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Every day we come across many inspiring stories of our students succeeding in various fields. Some make us happy, some make us proud, and then there are some that are so remarkable they make us realize the profound impact our students can have on society. 

We came across one such story recently of Mateusz Zatylny, a recipient of the Udacity Pytorch Scholarship and the Udacity Facebook Secure and Private AI Scholarship, who is now building an autonomous technology driven wheelchair along with a group of Udacians he met during the Pytorch Scholarship program. Mateusz is a patient of generalized Dystonia, a movement disorder that is not limited to a single part of the body. But that clearly didn’t deter him from achieving great things. He can’t control his wheelchair by himself, so he decided to build an autonomous technology driven wheelchair that could help him and many more to safely maneuver through daily life.

Here’s what Mateusz has to say about his journey with Udacity so far:

About yourself

My name is Mateusz Zatylny and I am 31 years old. I am a computer science student at the University of Zurich and have a disability. Previously, Istudied biology – I had to quit because of the lab work. I was born and raised in Poland but I could not study there because of my health conditions. In 2015 I applied to the University of Zurich and in 2016 I moved there.

Journey with Udacity

I was looking for something more challenging than my academic studies. At the University I gained more theoretical knowledge, but at Udacity the knowledge I gained was much more practical due to the kind of projects that are part of Udacity’s Nanodegree programs.

My experience with Udacity was extremely beneficial as I gained new skills and also met incredible new people who have become my friends – David Silvera, Nadir Debbagh, and Pablo Ruiz are just some of the friends I have made during the program. They are also working with me on the EEG self-driving wheelchair. 

The big idea

The idea was born about 9 months ago. I can’t control my wheelchair by myself so I have an assistant who helps me with it.  I used to always think about how I would be able to control it without my assistant one day. I told Ove, my best friend, about my idea of building an autonomous wheelchair. Now, we are working with a team of 10 people from different countries and from the best universities around the world like ETH Zurich, University of Zurich, Harvard University etc. The code is in MATLAB which is almost done. We are currently waiting for our patent so we can’t really say anything else about it! 

What’s next?

I don’t want to stop learning. My next steps are to gain new skills in computer vision and deep reinforcement learning. Udacity truly prepares students today for the jobs and projects of tomorrow! I am so grateful to Mr. Thrun for creating Udacity.

We’re extremely proud of our students like Mateusz who keep pushing their boundaries and following their dreams. It’s the whole reason we’re here! From all of us at Udacity, good luck on  your endeavour!

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