Ras Labs, Inc.

Systems Engineer Intern

May - August 2020 • Boston, MA

What I liked

Sensor is cool, but there's a lot of head butting on how best to use or make it. Less collaborative, more competitive. Mass robotics is a neat place too.

What I wish was different

CEO has a tendency to get very aggressive and lack of an HR to help mitigate instances where this occurs can really stress you out. I remember calling the CTO to ask for advice on this at 10pm because the CEO threatened to fire me if I did not come in to work in the machine shop during late hours (pretty sure that violates some stuff with EHS but a mans gotta eat). Due to the very small working quarters you really cannot avoid these bouts of anger, so if he seems in a mood try to excuse yourself and don't respond to any of his emails after 6 pm if possible. I spoke to a few previous employees about problems they encountered and this was one that was brought up a couple times. They don't quite have a good COVID protocol and that can lead to delays that have been blamed on the intern (myself) on multiple occasions.


You need your own laptop and access to software from your school, which may or not be illegal for them to use, but they don't really care or will not provide you with software. Just fyi. Biggest culprits are the MATlab and Solidworks licenses which are definitely no supposed to be used for commercial purposes. They may ask you to take work home or be pushy about it, assure them you have an animal that breaks everything or your place is being fumigated and that you can ask the hotel you are staying at if you can run these experiments (read "they said no"). They have oodles of documents written by previous interns that no one uses. There is no orientation process where they tell you about this, you will come to find out when you attempt a project that someone else has tried before which is a bummer. Ask about prior documentation, give yourself a couple weeks to go over the relevant parts. There is also a lot of theorizing and posturing on the molecular mechanics of the sensor (not by the inventor/chemist/CTO, by the robotics full timers with a phd in making stuff up), its best to avoid those discussions. At the end of the day, none of the full timers ever propose a way to test their theories or use it for the product, it can be very time consuming to indulge them. There is a lack of equipment you can train on and list in your CV, if you are attending this to get more hands on experience I recommend asking to run experiments at one of the universities partnered with Raslabs as they have more access to the cool stuff. Speaking of cool stuff, they don't really follow the safety standards from EHS for chem labs or electrical labs. Their power sources are a bit busted too (read dangerous), the ones I used did not control for current so if a short circuit occurs expect a light show (and an electrical fire). I brought this up as a safety issue as to why I did not want to run a fatigue tester all night with no supervision at my house or at the building they work out of, I was fired for what I assume was not complying.
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