Taylor Yang

AGE: 28
INTERESTS: Reading, drawing, 3D modeling, coding, cats.

Where are you from?

I primarily grew up in Taiwan. We moved to Iowa in the 3rd grade because my dad was pursuing his Ph.D. When I was in the 6th grade we moved back to Taiwan.

What did you do before 42?

While in college I studied industrial design. I was doing furniture design in Taiwan for a company that primarily sells in Taiwan. I was an R/D Designer and I used CAD to design system furniture (like kitchen cabinets). After that, I moved to the Bay Area and worked part-time in Quality Assurance for a medical product company.

Did you have any programming experience before 42?

No, but I wish I had. In my previous job I was doing a lot of sorting data in Excel, and a lot of times I had to do a lot of stuff manually because I didn’t know how to automate it. If I had more coding experience before I could have automated a lot of the stuff I did before, maybe half the stuff. In Taiwan, traditional factories are still transitioning to more modern data gathering.

Did you have any robotics experience before 42?

Not really, but I always liked to build stuff. Since I learned 3D modeling in college it is really easy to build what I want and print stuff out. I had my 3D printer before I got to 42 so I had to ship it here from Taiwan.

How did you hear about 42?

I had a friend that was talking about these boot camps in San Francisco that are really popular. So I searched online for boot camps in this area and 42 came up. In the documentation, it said it was free so I decided to try it out. I did the online exams and got in. At the time I was living in Cupertino so it was really nearby.

What did your family think about your decision to attend 42?

When I told them about it, they wanted to know if it was really free. I told them there are no strings attached and that it was really free. I also told them there are no teachers but all the students are great, and there are a lot of smart people you can learn from.

What was the piscine like?

It was fresh, it was exciting. I remember the first day I was just chilling with some other people and they were really serious about learning this stuff and working on the projects. It was really encouraging because there were so many people working on the same thing. It was the first time I went to a huge place with a ton of computers, so it was really cool. The most fun I had was on day 9 where we had this 24-hour coding nonstop and it’s not just a whole day marathon the problems we had were really fun. They had a theme to it so it made your code seem more useful in a way.

What was it like when you received your post-piscine decision email?

I was really surprised and excited. But I guess I was kind of confident I would get in because I passed my final exam. I was surprised how fast they told us we were in. It was Saturday when I got back to my house, and they let me know that I passed. I was also really lucky because I didn’t have a gap between the piscine and starting the program.

How does the 42 Cadet Program differ from the piscine?

I would say not that much different, just bigger projects in general. I still work the same way as I did while in the piscine because I still ask friends for help and engage in peer-learning. We still correct people, the projects are different, but the learning experience is the same. There are more things to do when you are a cadet, there are more events you can go to. The pace isn’t that fast so you can try to see what other things you can explore. I recently got into web development!

How did you get involved with the Robotics Lab?

I knew about it before because some of my friends were doing the tensorflow piscine. And when we were pisciners we saw some robotics students doing the autonomous car. I was like, “I want to do this when I am a cadet.” The first week I came to 42 I immediately asked Gaetan if I could bring my 3D printer to the lab, and he said I had to be level 8. Two months ago Dan posted he wanted some people working on web development projects. Excited about this great opportunity I told him I was interested and had an interview.

What is your favorite aspect of being part of the Robotics Lab Team?

There are a lot of people like me who are enthusiastic about 3D printing and hardware. We always have something to share about robots and technology. Dan is especially enthusiastic as well, he likes to share new tech articles on his LinkedIn. Dan also talked to me about a side project with Sigfox, so I thought it was a great opportunity to work with a company.

What is a challenging aspect of being part of the Robotics Lab Team?

Dan asks a lot from us but I think that is normal. He wants us to have passion and to put in the same hours upstairs as we do in the Robotics Lab. I try to split my time between robotics and cadet work. You can’t stop climbing, the gamification is too strong.

Tell us more about the Robotics Lab projects you are involved with:

I was involved with Mycotronics, I was designing the web user interface. Right now Dan wants us to work on the robotics website.
A bigger project involves EMG, where it is kind of sensing your thoughts through your nerves and muscles that move when you aren’t speaking. Right now we are just collecting the data, with Harrison speaking the 6 words and thinking the 6 words. So we are waiting to see the results of that.

How do you find help with your projects?

I find help everywhere, and I ask everyone, even people who aren’t part of the Robotics Lab team. I have a friend, Alex, who is really good at web development and javascript so I asked him for help. It was better than just looking at Google because the answers online were too broad. People were using different frameworks, even if it is just javascript there are a lot of different components. So it is really good to have a person look at your code and see what you can add to it and make it work without trying to take out half the code and replacing it. He was really helpful with my project. After I made it work, I used to spend hours with just one function. When you understand how it works you can redo the whole thing in less than 2 hours, so it’s a really good experience.

What do you like best about 42?

The environment, the way we learn. I would say the opportunities here. There are a lot of opportunities, people share a lot of stuff in slack and you can make a lot of connections when you are here. And it is not that easy when you are working. The office I worked in before coming to 42 had around 10 people, so my networking space was small. I really like corrections because you can meet a new person and ask what they are doing. It is a more natural way of meeting someone.

What is the most challenging aspect?

I guess because it is very self-paced, you need to practice time management. Otherwise, it is easy to drift off and not work. So that is what I like about the Robotics Lab. It forces us to be there and Dan is strict about time, but I think that is a good thing. In the real workplace, and I worked for 3 years so I know, time management is a good habit to develop.

What do you like to do in the Bay Area?

The beach, I like it because you can see the stars. One time I could see the milky way at Moss Landing. I really like hiking as well because the landscape here is so different from Taiwan. Around here in Coyote Hills and Mission Peak, you can see the entire landscape because there aren’t as many trees or forests obstructing your view.

What is your dream job?

A remote job. I like to go to other places, and the best way to travel and go wherever I want is to get a remote job. I would like to do some website development, UX UI. Machine learning is something I am really interested in as well.

What is your favorite quote?

From The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin. I really like a sentence that I relate to, “A small smile for both triumph and defeat.”It tells us both to be humble when we win, and have the strength to keep going after we have lost.

Connect with Taylor on LinkedIn

Photos by our in-house photographer, Priscilla Vongdara

Interview by: Stacey Faucett