A Boomerang Intern Reflects on His Time at Autodesk

Research conversation with two-time intern Vaibhav Saxena​​​​​​​

Erin Arnold


Returning for his second summer internship at Autodesk Research, Vaibhav Saxena, a PhD student in Machine Learning at the Georgia Institute of Technology, continues to make the most of his intern experience and leverage the opportunities offered by Autodesk. Since his time here last summer, Vaibhav presented a paper he co-authored during his 2022 summer internship at a conference in London and was sponsored by Autodesk as part of the Intern Stipend Program. We caught up with Vaibhav to see why he returned for a second summer at Autodesk, how internships here are valuable, and what’s next.

How did you first learn about the internship opportunity at Autodesk Research?
​​​​​​​I learned about Autodesk Research while studying for my Master of Science in Computer Science at the University of Toronto. I visited the Toronto office to expand my network of people working in computer vision and robotics. During my PhD program I began looking for internships and came across a job posting from the Robotics team at Autodesk Research. The problems they talked about solving seemed really exciting to me and I got to know more about Autodesk Research during the interview process with my hiring manager, Yotto Koga. I returned this summer to build on my robotics experience.

What did you work on during your internship at Autodesk Research?   
During the summer of 2022, I worked with the Robotics team at Autodesk Research to improve the generalization of pose estimation in robotics. Pose estimation refers to estimating the location and orientation of an object in 3D space and is a crucial task in any robotic manipulation pipeline. It is the first step that a robot needs to take after perceiving an object in hand and before affecting any changes to it.

I wrote a paper with several members of the Research team that was accepted at the 2023 International Conference on Robotics and Automation in London, and Autodesk sponsored my travel to present the paper. It was great to catch up with previous team members and network with others at the event. Yotto drafted a blog post about our work.

Vaibhav presenting at the 2023 International Conference on Robotics and Automation in London.

What are you working on this summer?  
My research is different from last year as I’m focused on solving assembly tasks using visual input. Last year I focused mostly on the perception side of things and this year I’m more interested in creating an end-to-end AI model that enables robots to perform assembly tasks based on camera input. It’s a big challenge to solve assembly tasks using visual input and last semester during my PhD we built a model that works well for certain robotic pick-and-place tasks. The aim for this summer is to expand on that research and see if we can solve some harder tasks using the same method.

Share some of the key benefits from your internships at Autodesk. 
One of the key benefits I gained from my internship is a better understanding of what research looks like on a longer scale. I’m working with people who have been doing industrial research longer than I’ve been in school and it’s interesting to understand how their projects and research evolve over time. I’ve also had the opportunity to tackle real problems and offer solutions and ideas that will continue to be worked on after my internship ends. The Research team is receptive to the fresh perspectives and ideas interns like me bring to the organization, which really allows us to propose new ideas to solve complex challenges.

What do you hope to do with what you learned at Autodesk?   
I learned many different skills during my internship at Autodesk, which I aim to take forward in my future research work. Last summer was my first time working in 3D computer vision, and it really helped me strengthen my fundamentals while also learning about the state-of-the-art methods. I will take with me the work ethics and tireless motivation that I shared with my team, and hope it helps me make a lasting impact through my research career.

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