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At Udacity, our mission is to provide quality courses that empower people to advance their careers. Meet Antonio Suazo, an architect interested in interactive installations, who decided to take a crack at learning real time 3D rendering.

Antonio took Udacity’s Interactive 3D Graphics course, developed with industry expert Eric Haines of Autodesk, received the People’s Choice award in the course contest, and recently made an exciting career change. Read on for his story:

Why were you interested in Interactive 3D Graphics?

I studied architecture at the University of Chile and graduated in 2009. After graduating, I realized that my focus of interest was interactive installations, and decided to try learning real time 3D rendering.

Did you have any prior programming experience?

I had no formal programming experience prior to Udacity. At the time that I started teaching myself to program, online learning materials were neither widely accessible nor formal, mainly because of their ‘design-and-not-programming-oriented’ nature.

I managed to acquire some general programming skills ‘from the bottom up’ as I like to say; that is, not abstract programming topics per se, but fragmented and discontinuous tips and tricks directed specifically towards mesh generation, basic materials setup, general lighting and others 3D related issues. Interactive 3D Graphics course was a unique opportunity to learn interactive 3D graphics in a direct and structured way.

Developing look & feel
Developing look & feel

How did you create your contest entry?

Eric’s words were what every developer could want: “.. feel free to go wild with animation or anything else. Sky’s the limit!”. The first thing came to my head was to use what I’ve doing for several years — studying architecture is all about showing buildings with renderings — and use a building as the excuse to set a camera fly-through around it. With that in mind I started searching the web for simple and recognizable architectural works. It was only a matter of time before I chose the Modernism era and the Barcelona Pavilion.

The rest, as usual, was trial and error. But, you know, at the end it’s the process itself what lasts in your mind, the funny zig-zagging path of dribbling obstacles as you move along and, eventually, learning something. As for me, I just could dedicate evenings and weekends during a couple of weeks to the project.

Why did you start your own studio?

The week after the official deadline, and without even proposing it, my demo appeared posted on both three.js and Mr.Doob google+ profiles, with links pointing to my post on Udacity forum, and students like me passing by just to comment it or say hi.

I just felt overwhelmed by the reception, I never imagined such a great and warm response. With all that in hand, at this point I’m converting my half employment – half hobby to a serious professional grade job, turning the studio that I founded 4 years ago into a full time occupation based on a solid world-class experience. We are provide a broad range of spatial visualization services. Applications range from interactive solutions for web, to physical immersive installations using novel devices (Oculus Rift, Leap Motion, etc.), in the fields of real estate, museography, and advertising, among others.

To sum things out, in the last weeks many friends (architects) have asked me how I got to where I am; all I can say is I feel this is a great moment to start learning programming in general, especially in communities like you see in Udacity. Interpreted code, as opposed to compiled one (the default choice I had to struggle with in my first steps), is now in every demo, every page’s source code, waiting for us to grab it; when you start dissecting it, and ultimately understand its logic, you’ll feel you are a part of something bigger, and setting challenges in that direction is something totally worth trying.