Field Engineering at Scale | A Day in the Life

byon January 24, 2022

Field Engineering at Scale

Scale’s Field Engineering is a global team of creative engineers who collaborate with clients to understand their challenges and architect solutions. Our solutions are rooted in our technical skill, product expertise, and a thorough understanding of our customers’ complex needs. Whether the answer is a bespoke solution to solve a unique problem, or a new developer tool that can scale across Scale, everything we do aims to ensure our customers benefit from the full potential of Scale products and expertise.

Our work is at the intersection of customer success, product, and engineering, helping Scale’s customers succeed and reach their business goals with Scale by unblocking them technically. Field Engineers are subject matter experts who know all of the products and technologies Scale has inside and out, and work closely with product managers to influence new product features.

Field Engineering Map

A Day in the Life

Field Engineers start each day with a team standup. During the standup, we align on daily priorities and check in on our longer-term projects. There’s almost always an urgent customer issue to work on, but when we have downtime, we tackle longer term projects that will help the company move faster in the future. We’ll go over some of these longer term projects further down. One of the more fun parts of our daily standup is ending with the “Word of the Day”. As half of our team is located in Buenos Aires, Argentina, each day someone will share a word that they would like to know how to say in English or Spanish and we’ll share our own take, the different definitions, and any fun stories that go along with it.

After the standup, each day can look pretty different. Our days will often include at least a few customer meetings, where we will consult with our existing customers (think: the world’s leading ML companies) on technical aspects of their projects, any challenges they may be facing, and new initiatives coming up. Field Engineering is the customer’s technical contact to ensure all goes well with their work.

Covid-permitting, we use lunchtime to socialize with colleagues in the office while we eat all the amazing food that is provided for us. It’s a nice time to decompress and connect.

After customer meetings and any urgent issues have been addressed, we focus on our longer-term projects. We’re focused on making the lives of our customers, our internal partners, and ourselves as streamlined and scalable as we can. So, we spend significant time on internal tools, customer SDks, documentation and anything else we can think of to improve Scale’s developer experience.

Field Engineering Initiatives

Introducing a new and improved Scale Python SDK

2021 saw the introduction of a new version of our Python SDK. Rebuilt from the ground up to deliver new features faster, this new version includes a set of new ways to interact with the Scale API and improve infrastructure for a smoother developer experience. The tool was built on a new foundation that includes novel abstractions, so you can get more out of the Scale API with less effort. This new foundation allows us to add new functionality faster and better than ever before, so expect more new features from Scale to show up in the SDK with improved documentation and release notes.

Shipping a Lidar Toolkit to make sense of multi-sensor datasets.

The act of fusing multiple cameras, lidar sensors, and radars from a vehicle or robot into one cohesive scene that can be annotated is no easy feat.

Historically, helping customers work through the nuances of their data and how to format it for Scale’s API-based workflows was one of the most time-consuming parts of our team’s day. In 2021 we overhauled our Lidar Toolkit and introduced a set of resources, code samples, and debugging tools to enable maximum efficiency for developers working with Lidar data.

The toolkit, built on Open3d and Scale’s Python SDK, is full of helper functions that make working with the geometry, camera projections, and coordinate systems much easier to understand and implement than doing it from scratch.

The Lidar Toolkit our team has published is now the de facto way all customers share and upload their data to Scale today.

Embracing the Operational Nuances at Scale

Scale is in the business of human-in-the-loop data annotation, and humans + loads of data means a lot of operational overhead comes with the territory.

We don’t want to rely on running our business based on custom scripts day in and day out. So, we continually develop, iterate and ship internal tools to make the lives of our customer delivery team as seamless as possible. Some of the tools make facilitating customer requests easier, like moving tasks (tasks are what we call the unit of work we are annotating, like an image) between customer projects, re-sending callbacks to our customer’s endpoints, or canceling tasks en masse.

Other sets of tools ensure high-quality data is coming out the other side of our task pipelines. A few years ago, had we wanted to programmatically identify potential annotation errors, a custom script would need to be written, tailored to that client’s specific projects. Over the past 18 months, Field Engineering has developed a framework that can be configured by our non-technical ops counterparts to flag any erroneous tasks in their pipelines. And, better yet, this framework can proactively prevent these tasks by flagging warnings directly in the labeling interface—before the annotations are even submitted. This has become one of our most powerful tools to ensure reasonable data is consistently delivered to our clients.

Could Field Engineering be a fit for you?

If you enjoy leveraging both sides of your brain, the people skills side, and the deeply technical one, Field Engineering may be a promising place to build and Scale your career. We are consistently hiring and growing the team (the team has doubled in size each year) and are interested in candidates with a variety of technical backgrounds and skills. Bonus points are given to candidates who possess a background in Computer Vision or API building and troubleshooting. If you're interested, explore our open positions today!

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