Please read Diversity on our AI and Data Advisory Board, our COO’s follow-up to the story below.


Introducing the Udacity Artificial Intelligence and Data Industry Advisory Board

Future of AI - Data

As we look forward into a future we know will be shaped by the transformational impact of artificial intelligence and data technologies, we can clearly see the birth of a new knowledge ecosystem within which education, industry, and technology form a powerful partnership. That these three arenas will be interrelated goes without saying, but how they inform one another, and how these relationships take shape and evolve, remain open questions.

At Udacity, we recognize the singular role we occupy, existing as we do at the crossroads where  education, industry, and technology meet. We are a learning provider that teaches AI and data skills, in partnership with industry, and as such, we see a unique opportunity—and feel a special obligation—to both facilitate and contribute to the global conversation around critical issues we face as we move into our AI and data-powered future.

We are very excited to share that we have formed an Artificial Intelligence and Data Industry Advisory Board with the expressed goal of bringing together leading experts in the field to consider the opportunities that lay ahead, to address the challenges we face, and to answer the questions we must answer.

We believe that through combining experiences and skills, sharing insights and ideas, and producing solutions and strategies, we can lay out a plan for the future that is beneficial to all—a plan that nurtures and supports emerging generations of learners to master artificial intelligence and data skills, encourages and incentivizes industry to adopt beneficial AI and data practices, and guarantees a pipeline of highly skilled individuals who are committed to social good ideals, and the ethical adoption and implementation of transformational technologies.

Among the experts who have joined our board is Armen Pischdotchian, the Academic Tech Mentor at IBM. In his role, he mentors university faculty and students, and conducts enablement sessions—both in and outside of the company—pertaining to the IBM Watson Solution offerings. Here is Armen on why he wanted to be a part of the board:

“I strongly believe that the Advisory board, at its core, is addressing a gap that needs to be erased, and that is the space between industry and education. Udacity has the unique pedigree of listening to the needs of tech giants and startups and asking the question, what does your candidate need to be proficient so the firm will succeed?”

Armen is joined by an incredible roster of individuals who come to us from leading organizations such as Amazon, Google, NVIDIA, and more. It is with both gratitude and excitement that we introduce the inaugural members of the Udacity Artificial Intelligence and Data Industry Advisory Board:

  • Armen Pischdotchian, Academic Tech Mentor, IBM
  • Brad Klingenberg, VP of Data Science, Stitch Fix
  • Bryan Catanzaro, VP of Applied Deep Learning Research, NVIDIA
  • Cyrus Vahid, Principal Deep Learning Solutions Architect, Amazon
  • Dan Becker, Head of Kaggle Learn
  • Derek Steer, CEO, Mode
  • Jeff Feng, Product Lead, Data, Airbnb
  • Joe Spisak, Product Manager – Artificial Intelligence at Facebook
  • Jon Francis, VP of Customer Marketing Analytics & Optimization, Starbucks
  • Josh Gordon, Developer Advocate for TensorFlow, Google
  • Mike Tamir, Head of Data Science Uber ATG & Data Science Faculty member at University of California at Berkeley
  • Warren Barkley, GM, AI and Research, Microsoft

While each of these individuals brings to the board a wholly unique set of experiences and insights, they are united by a shared passion for learning, and for building a better future through the beneficial use of transformational technologies.

“The advisory board offers us a truly unique window into how AI and data are impacting industry. What are the experts seeing, not just within their companies, but in the market? With the insights we glean, we’re able to directly respond to critical industry feedback—optimizing existing curriculum offerings, and identifying new opportunities to bridge future talent gaps. Through the work of the board, we can help ensure an AI and data-powered future that is inclusive, progressive, and beneficial for all.” —Hillary Mickell, VP, Partnerships and Business Development, Udacity

Given our mission to provide students with meaningful opportunities to master valuable and in-demand skills, we are especially appreciative of how focused our board members are on job and career issues. Jeff Feng is the Product Lead for Data at Airbnb, where he leads a team building machine learning infrastructure, data infrastructure, data visualization tools, and their experimentation platform. Here is Jeff on the passion that drives his participation:

“Shaping how people and machines make decisions with data is one of the most critical skills needed in the workforce over the next decade. Thus, providing learners with the practical knowledge needed to work with data is an area I am hugely passionate about.”

We look very forward to sharing more updates about the work of the board, and to furthering our engagement with the important issues and incredible opportunities before us. As we advance our efforts, we are thankful above all else to our board members for their spirit of generosity and goodwill, and for their commitment to the true ideals of education. Josh Gordon, Developer Advocate at Google, put it both perfectly and simply when he stated the following:

“Good teachers are hard to find. I’m grateful for those who helped me out over the years, and it’s always been important to me to give back.”

We are grateful to the members of the advisory board, and we are excited to transfer insights gleaned from their leadership to you, our students, for it is who are the emerging leaders that will define the future we are eagerly building towards.


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