Monday, June 1, 2015

The market for robotics talent

The labor market for computer scientists is thriving.

The collaboration between Uber and Carnegie Mellon University on driverless-car technology has some unusually competitive dimensions, when it comes to hiring. The WSJ has the story:
Carnegie Mellon Reels After Uber Lures Away Researchers--Uber staffs new tech center with researchers poached from its collaborator on self-driving technology

"Carnegie Mellon University is scrambling to recover after Uber Technologies Inc. poached 40 of its researchers and scientists earlier this year, a raid that left one of the world’s top robotics research institutions in a crisis.

In February, Carnegie Mellon and Uber trumpeted a strategic partnership in which the school would “work closely” with the ride-hailing service to develop driverless-car technology.

Behind the scenes, the tie-up was more combative than collaborative.

Uber envisions autonomous cars that could someday replace its tens of thousands of contract drivers. With virtually no in-house capability, the San Francisco company went to the one place with enough talent to build a team instantly: Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineering Center, or NREC.

Flush with cash after raising more than $5 billion from investors, Uber offered some scientists bonuses of hundreds of thousands of dollars and a doubling of salaries to staff the company’s new tech center in Pittsburgh, according to one researcher at NREC."

The WSJ story ends with a nice quote about CMU:

"Carnegie Mellon likes “to focus on the fringe of science, not the center of it,” Mr. Thrun said. “It is easier to do something crazy and get it done. You could do almost anything at Carnegie Mellon and get away with it.”

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