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At Udacity, our students are at the heart of everything we do. It’s the reason we’re here, and their success is our number one priority. That’s why we’re constantly finding new ways to innovate and make our programs stronger. In order to help our students master in-demand skills more effectively, we recently launched new support features for our Nanodegree programs. In our latest series, we’ve been highlighting students from all over the globe who have had this new experience.
In this week’s feature, we spoke with another student enrolled in one of our redesigned Nanodegree programs. Felix Palomares is a software engineer in the casino gaming industry who enrolled in the Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree program to live out his childhood dream. He took some time out of his busy schedule to share his experience with us.
As a software engineer, what motivated you to enroll in the Robotics Software Engineer program?
Well, my story really starts when I was quite young. As a child, I was enamored with anime, specifically with the show Gundam Wing. I was so excited when it came to Singapore. Since then, I’ve had a huge interest in robotics and knew that one day I wanted to get into the field. After seven years as a software engineer, I felt it was time to bridge my current experience with my passion for anime. I subscribed to Udacity while researching robotics. One day the Udacity Robotics Nanodegree program appeared in my email. I did not look any further and decided that it was the right time to pursue it.
We are pairing students with personal mentors. Do you interact with your mentor?
I haven’t interacted with my mentor so far because I haven’t experienced any issues with my projects. If I do encounter any problems, it’s reassuring to know that my mentor will be able to help. If for some reason the mentor isn’t around, we also have the Slack groups with other students to help with questions or to discuss certain topics.
Is your Nanodegree program experience fulfilling your expectations?
Yes. Overall, the Udacity program has been great. It provides students with the latest information in robotics and support throughout the program. The program has helped my skills greatly because it focuses on the basics and really teaches you the fundamentals of robotics. I also enjoyed the projects. While coding, I was able to see what I was working on come to life and move on its own.
I imagine that your time is limited. How were you able to manage your life and school?
Udacity is great because it seamlessly fits into my schedule. When I come home from work, I use my free time to study, and on weekends, I reserve at least half a day to complete my projects. Honestly, what I love about Udacity is that it allows me to study anywhere, even at work or outside. The program itself is quite flexible too. They give you a generous deadline for each module, which allows you to study at your own pace.
What has been one of your most memorable projects thus far?
That’s easy. In my last project, we designed a ball-chasing robot with a camera. The primary objective was to program the robot to move near the white ball. In order to do that, I had to take the camera input, scan that input, try to find a ball, and tell the robot to go near the ball. Since I really wanted it to be perfect, I spent a lot of time coding it. I successfully completed the basic requirement and chose to take on the optional assignment as well — which involved designing a different type of robot that could chase any colored ball.
As you plan your next steps, how do you believe that career coaching and services will be useful for you?
I haven’t worked with career services yet, but my plan is to start next month. Since, I haven’t looked for a job in seven years, I have no idea what the job market is like right now. Working with career services will definitely help me. Also, since my current career is quite different, they will be able to help me navigate the challenge of changing careers.
How do you see this program impacting your career?
I have a software programming background and worked mainly with servers at the beginning of my career, but quickly realized that I didn’t really like it. Then, I found a job as a software engineer with a small casino gaming company in Singapore, which is where I’ve been for the last seven years. While I’m still interested in gaming, this program is allowing me to pursue robotics as an alternative career path.
Congratulations on this new journey. It’s been great speaking with you, Felix. We’re excited to check back in when you complete the course and transition into living your childhood dream!
If you would like to learn more about gaining in-demand skills with Udacity Nanodegree programs, check out our list of programs here.