Aurora Voices with Henry Partida
Meet our team | October 15, 2020 | 5 min. read
Our Aurora Voices series celebrates the people and teams whose unique experiences, backgrounds, and voices bring Aurora’s mission to life.
Meet Henry, a STEM enthusiast and Army veteran from our Hardware Engineering team.
In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, we are thrilled to introduce Henry Partida, a Hardware Integration Engineer. Henry works closely with a multidisciplinary team to define, design, and integrate self-driving hardware into Aurora’s vehicle platforms. When he’s not helping build the hardware systems that power the Aurora Driver, Henry is engaging with students from underserved communities, empowering them to pursue a career in STEM. It’s a cause that’s deeply personal because of his own upbringing.
Read on to learn about Henry’s experience serving in the US Army, and his passions for hands-on technical work as well as inspiring the next generation of STEM Latinx learners.
What did you do before you joined Aurora?
I would describe my professional journey in three phases:
The first phase is defined by my time serving in the US Army, working as a technician where I specialized in helicopter avionics systems. This work gave me a strong understanding of how to fix electronics and helped me build a solid technical foundation. After leaving the military, I returned to school and worked part-time as a technician at an avionics maintenance facility where I repaired flight control computers for F-16s.
After earning my Electrical Engineering degree, I worked as an Integration Engineer at a large aerospace and defense company. This second phase is what I characterize as the beginning of my professional engineering career. I learned the fundamentals of engineering, including how to develop sound test plans, procedures, and system requirements.
The final phase is my current work on autonomous vehicles. I left the defense space because I wanted to work in a fast-paced environment. I joined a self-driving car startup where I worked on integrating platforms, and then I made the jump to Aurora.
Describe your role as a Hardware Integration Engineer at Aurora.
As an Integrator, I’m responsible for connecting together all the various hardware and software components, like circuit boards, sensors, harnesses, CAN networks, that make up the Aurora Driver, and ensuring that these components operate reliably.
I partner with the Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering teams to stay on top of new and upcoming changes that will impact vehicle hardware integration and design implementation. And I help design custom software configurations, called Hardware-in-the-Loop, for our Software Engineering team so they can remotely develop, test, and benchmark performance before that software is integrated into our vehicles.
Even with my experience with integrations, Aurora is the first place where I’m starting to evolve into a system architect. Previously, I had integrated systems per the architecture defined by other system architects. Now, I’m growing into a system architect myself, a major milestone for integrators. When Aurora has a new vehicle platform, I’m responsible for defining the system interfaces and specifications that allow the Aurora Driver to operate on the new platform.
I served in the US Army for six years, where I worked as an avionics technician. I served two tours in Iraq, for a total of 27 months. Life in the military came naturally to me because I grew up in a home that emphasized discipline, and the military reinforced that value. Through my military career, I gained technical experience and learned to lead diverse teams. A unit is built with individuals from all walks of life and every geographical corner of the country. My squad became my family and I developed lifelong friendships.
Who has inspired you in your life and why?
My parents are my biggest inspiration. They came to the US as immigrants and worked extremely hard to support our family. My work ethic comes from their work ethic. My parents taught me to work hard for what I want.
Henry and his family traveled to Mexico in 1988. Here they are at the Mexico City Cathedral. During this trip, Henry’s father was reunited with Henry’s grandmother for the first time in nearly 20 years after leaving the country.
What is the best thing about working at Aurora?
This is the most experienced team I’ve worked with. We often see eye-to-eye on the implementation of vehicle interfaces (e.g., connectors and harnesses). There is little in-fighting around key decisions because everyone understands what level and performance are needed to deliver on our mission.
Aurora is committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and skills. If you’re interested in joining us, visit our Careers page to learn more about our current opportunities.
Delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly.