Udacity - Self Driving Car

Earlier this week we announced the launch of our Intro to Self-Driving Cars Nanodegree program. This program will significantly broaden opportunities for intermediate learners to begin their journeys into the self-driving car industry.

With so many new students coming into this introductory program—students still new to the world of self-driving cars—we want to make sure we’re providing as much support and guidance as we can. Who better to offer advice to incoming students than … students in our advanced program!

Miguel - Udacity Miguel Morales is a software engineer who immigrated from Venezuela to the U.S. to pursue his love of robotics and computer science. He’s worked for numerous companies including Cisco, AT&T, and HP. When the Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program was announced, Miguel decided to immediately enroll in the program and leave his job at HP so that he could focus all of his time on his studies. He rented his own office space and has spent the last year working through the course material. His hard work has paid off—not only is he going to be one of our first graduates, but he started a job with Lockheed Martin in Autonomous Engineering! He recently shared thoughts on his experience with us, and provided some wonderful insights for our introductory students:

“I highly recommend students focus on learning and fine-tuning their C/C++ programming skills, if they don’t have previous knowledge. Additionally, I relied heavily on Bayesian statistics, which I recommend as an important background to have.”

He also offered some perspective on the autonomous industry as a whole:

“This industry is historical to some degree; it actually dates back to the 1980’s. But in the past few years, the industry has really begun to build public awareness and momentum. But don’t worry—we still have a lot of work to do! There will always be autonomous systems to build, engineer, and invent.”

Nadia - UdacityWe also heard from Nadia Yudina, an accomplished iOS Developer and a soon-to-be grad of the Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program. She has worked in iOS research, engineering, and even developed Android apps. She is also deeply passionate about autonomous vehicles and the future of Artificial Intelligence. She echoed some of Miguel’s advice, encouraging students to brush up on their C++ software capabilities. She also addressed the value of the program, beyond it just being a pathway to self-driving car job opportunities:

“If a student isn’t sure whether or not they actually want to work in the Self-Driving Car industry, the AI and computer vision skills you obtain through the program are essential to every software engineer and will provide a competitive skillset that can be applied to multiple industries.”

She specifically mentioned her favorite support features from the program:

“Mentorship! Also, one of the best resources I utilize are project walkthrough videos, especially the ones which answer direct student questions.”

Jeff - UdacityFinally, we spoke with Jeff Fletcher, who is an Autonomous Vehicle Technology Scout at one of the leading global auto manufacturers, and a Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program student. He is currently working through the second term of the program, alongside working full time. His background is in mechanical engineering, but his passion is machine automation. Jeff shared a couple of practical tips for introductory students regarding how to approach the program, and described what helps him continue through the coursework:

“Focus on the task directly in front of you; it’s easy to get lost when looking at the long term. Plan out your week to get to key milestones, and break it down into daily goals.”

In regards to how he approaches course material and projects:

“Try hard to set aside time to go deeper into topics. The course is most rewarding when you can incorporate things you learn from external references into the projects to make them that much better. The more you use the skills you’re learning and apply them to real-world problems, the more they resonate.”

One Self-Driving Car Engineer student we spoke to, Patrick Kern (who we recently profiled on  our blog), perhaps said it best when he noted the following:

“Support features are really the most important and integral part of the whole course. Especially connecting and working together with your peers through the Slack channels; this will help you successfully complete course projects and learn as much as possible.”

The community created through these programs is the foundation for success. We are immensely proud of our students and congratulate them on being pioneers of this industry!

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Are you ready to be a pioneer? Enroll in our new Intro to Self-Driving Cars Nanodegree program today, and start on the road to a self-driving dar career!