**Title: Cindy Heredia’s Journey in the Autonomous Driving Industry**
**Subtitle: A Passion for Driving Change and Bridging Transportation Disparities**
Cindy Heredia, an aspiring MBA student, sought to be at the forefront of the autonomous driving industry. Her meticulous research led her to MIT, where she discovered a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience—an autonomous driving team run entirely by students. With a deep desire to address transportation inequalities, Heredia applied to MIT and joined the team.
**Cindy’s Drive for Change**
Having grown up in a low-income neighborhood in Laredo, Texas, Heredia understood the value of mobility for accessing employment, education, and opportunities. Her family’s limited access to transportation prevented them from meeting essential needs, such as visiting the doctor. Witnessing her friends miss out on job opportunities due to long bus rides fueled Heredia’s determination to bridge transportation disparities.
**MIT Driverless: A Haven for Innovators**
Under the MIT Edgerton Center, MIT Driverless develops its own artificial intelligence software to participate in autonomous driving competitions. Collaborating with the University of Pittsburgh, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the University of Waterloo, MIT-PITT-RW was formed to compete in the Indy Autonomous Challenge.
**Overcoming Obstacles and Setting Records**
Despite facing numerous obstacles, such as criticism and a devastating crash, MIT-PITT-RW persevered and emerged stronger. During the time trials of the Indy Autonomous Challenge, they achieved a record-breaking speed of 152 mph, securing a commendable fourth place overall. They even hit another milestone of 154 mph while overtaking another car. The team’s journey continues as they prepare for their next competition at the historic Monza track in Italy.
**Cindy’s Leadership and Building Trust**
As Heredia approaches her MBA graduation, she reflects on leading the MIT-PITT-RW team and emphasizes the importance of trust-building among team members. Recognizing the critical role of people skills, she highlights the necessity of managing diverse personalities. Heredia’s leadership philosophy revolves around leading by example and proving her commitment to her team, ensuring their trust and camaraderie.
**Encouraging Women of Color in the Industry**
Heredia urges other women of color to take up leadership positions in the self-driving industry. Recognizing the need to be visible and confident, she emphasizes the availability of support, acknowledging the remarkable number of women of color in leadership roles as her mentors.
**Embracing Failure and Continuous Learning**
Heredia emphasizes the inevitability of failure in this field and encourages newcomers to embrace it as a learning opportunity. She urges individuals to reflect, adapt, and persist through difficult moments. Heredia believes that sharing lessons learned along the way can inspire others and instill belief in the possibilities of the self-driving industry.
**A Gradual Shift Towards Autonomy**
While some predict the end of personal vehicle ownership with the rise of autonomous vehicles, Heredia believes the transition will be gradual. She plans to pursue a career in the self-driving industry, driven by the realization of the significant challenges it presents. Her long-term vision includes leveraging these technologies for social good, particularly in underserved communities like the one she grew up in.
Cindy Heredia’s journey exemplifies her dedication to the autonomous driving industry and her pursuit of a more equitable transportation future. With her leadership prowess and determination, she aims to drive change and make self-driving technologies accessible to all. Her story serves as an inspiration for those seeking meaningful advancements in the field.