Coming to Silicon Valley

Saturday, August 5, 2017
Nigel Malaba

This has been by far the best summer of my life, which is a phrase you’ll probably see in most of my blog posts, but here’s why this one is different:

First of all, I had never really travelled much around the United States apart from DC and Virginia – clearly that can only be a Baker Beach first timer’s jump, and so my perception of the USA was primarily based on my East Coast experience. Experiencing California has made me say, “I love America”, and actually mean it. It’s just amazing how beautiful the Silicon Valley area is. Although Teslas are common here, I still marvel when I see one, and I can never get over the beautiful view of the mountains surrounding our house in Mountain View. Oh, not to forget driving past Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and all the great companies in the Bay Area as if it’s a normal thing…

Each day in Silicon Valley is a chance to learn something new, to network and build lifelong connections with some of the most amazing people in the technology industry! I have lost count of the number of CEOs I’ve met, and it still blows my mind how I have managed to fit in and own the life that I am living now as a Software Engineer which is something I would have never dreamt of if it wasn’t for DTech and the great mentors we get.

This experience has also been transformative and enriching; all the skills that I’ve gained as a Project Management and Software Engineering intern at Aeris Communications do not just apply to one industry but to many. I always think to myself that companies really need engineers who can lead teams, because understanding customer requirements, organizing the workload, and managing/tracking the progress of a project is just as essential as coming up with an initial idea. I love my internship because I get to experience both sides.

At Aeris, I am helping to plan, implement and deploy two of their biggest projects as a project manager. This is a very interesting experience because while I’ve been a leader all my life, I’ve never really led a team of actual engineers with 30+ years of experience. At Aeris, I have learned how to both communicate and listen effectively in order to build a common understanding of and commitment to project deliverables and timelines. I cannot talk in detail about the specifics of the projects I work on because they are top secret, however our goal is to create technologies that will promote car sharing and enhance cars with better features and functionality using IoT solutions.  On the software side of things, I am currently working on integrating the Aeris IoT Automotive Platform API with Google Home and Alexa.  This will enable Aeris Telematics users to perform remote operations on their cars, such as turning the engine on and off through voice commands, from the comfort of their homes. I have also been working on side projects in UI/UX design and I am in the process of designing my first mobile app!

When I look back two months ago, I was terrified just thinking about all this, I remember I kept saying “I have never built an app in my life, so how will I survive in Silicon Valley!!” But I am thankful to the team at Aeris for showing me that it is possible to pick up a new language in one week and be implementing it in the next. That it is possible for a new intern to play a key role in bringing a complicated project to reality.  That my passion and drive for coding can enable me to do much more than I’ve ever realized

Nigel Malaba
Class of 2018
Major: Electrical & Computer Engineering
Internship: Aeris