Perfecting A Robot Design - Summer 2019
Until recently, I had never had a legitimate job, never eaten at a Michelin-starred restaurant, never navigated an airport by myself, and never been outside of the United States without Mommy and Daddy holding my hand.
My name is Kayla Bayusik, I live in a small town north of Boston but just finished my first year of college in New York. When Revolution Robotics hired me as an intern, I was ecstatic. I was going to work for a startup! With an office in Budapest! Not just any startup, but a robotics company with a vision for exciting people about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
Fast forward a couple months. I was all packed, standing in the airport, hugging my parents goodbye, and listening to yet another lecture about being careful and staying safe. One restless red-eye flight and two days of navigating a city with a language we couldn’t even pretend to understand later, I made my way to the office building, only getting a little lost in the process. It was unlike anything I had imagined.
Now, between bring-your-kid-to-work days and cancelled school days that my parents couldn’t get off from work, I’ve seen my fair share of offices. They all really blend together: gray walls with some of that magical whiteboard paint, dull carpets, a sea of cubicles. Perhaps it was due to the nature of a startup or the European-ness of it all, but the Revolution Robotics office was anything but boring. No walls put up between coworkers, beanbags, and a drum set. But most importantly, the most adorable puppy wandered around and tried crewing any robot parts he could get his paws on, like a mascot for the office. That surprised me the most. It wasn’t stuffy with forced formality and separation. It was comfortable; I was comfortable.
The trip only got better from there. Revolution Robotics’ co-founder Jared drove the team past endless sunflower fields to his home in Csopak for an offsite. We spent the next couple days reviewing the company’s vision, mission statement, and future plans. My fellow intern and I even (mostly) finished the robot we’d been building and had it driving around the dining room by the end of the day. By far, though, the best part of the offsite was at night when work was put aside, and we got to bond as a team. We made dinner in a massive outdoor clay oven, talked about our passions on the patio, played card games, and drank palinka (no one tell my mother I tried some).
Once back from Csopak, work resumed for the rest of the week. Ria and I perfected our robot’s design, took pictures of all the team’s projects to put on social media, and tested the mobile app. More enjoyable and more telling, though, was the time we spent playing with a little boy, one of the worker’s sons, who roamed the office. He was energetic and bubbly and a bit of a goofball, but he absolutely loved the Revolution Robotics kit. Building cars and racetracks and walkers from Star Wars with us, we never once stopped enjoying ourselves and laughing, to the point where we began to bother everyone else in the office (oops). The language barrier wasn’t even an issue. Setting up a track for his newly improved race car or making noises every time the robot crashed into a beanbag simply did not need to be explained. Robotics, building, playtime all transcended language entirely, to the point where it didn’t bother us that the only English he understood were the words “Star Wars.”
A blink of an eye and the workweek was over. But that meant vacation was just beginning. My friend and fellow intern, Ria, and I had decided to extend our stay in Budapest to have a chance to explore a city we never would have visited otherwise. The entire trip was phenomenal, so I’ll just give you some of my favorite highlights.
We walked to the Fisherman’s Bastion at seven in the morning and held a photoshoot so massive Ria ran out of space in her camera. We took a ride on the Budapest Eye, and it began downpour raining when we made it to the top of the Ferris Wheel. We visited some of the most grand churches and buildings I’ve ever seen, and wherever Latin was carved into a wall I translated it for Ria. We had an entire beautiful restaurant to ourselves and, as a result, got a private serenade from the pianist and violinist. We stopped by Szabihid, where an entire bridge across the Danube was closed to traffic so people could walk and dance and set up hammocks; I even climbed up the side of the bridge, while Ria took pictures from safely on the ground. We went to a Michelin-starred restaurant to try their latest tasting menu for a bargain price, and never has food been so delicious. We visited the Gellert baths early one morning and had to force ourselves to leave the tranquil waters a few hours later. We went on a bike tour through the city from around dusk to midnight, and we fell in love. Along the Danube, breeze in my hair, Parliament sparkling from across the water, I could have been flying down the sidewalk. That moment right then was how life is probably supposed to feel. Exhilarating and free and all the most beautiful things, all at once.
After all that, I can say with confidence that now that we’ve been, we will be coming back in a few years’ time. How could we not?
We both can’t thank Revolution Robotics enough for taking a chance on two teenagers and bringing us to their gorgeous city; the whole trip was beyond perfect. And thank you, too, for reading.