A Career in Motion: Darien Martinez Torres, and the road to Autonomous Systems

A passion for learning sent Darien Martinez Torres back to the classroom after twenty years as a developer. Today, this two-time Nanodegree grad works on drones and flying cars!

Darien Martinez Torres - Udacity - Student Success - Autonomous Systems

Darien Martinez Torres has nearly twenty years of experience as a software developer. For much of that time, he has worked as a contractor—jumping from role to to role as opportunities have appeared. He enjoyed the new challenges each job brought, but he also had a nagging sense there was something more out there for him.

When he heard about the Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program, he recognized an opportunity to reconnect with subjects he’d learned about years before—such as image and sensor processing. It sounded amazing, but also a challenge—he’d need to balance studying with the demands of work; not to mention family life with three children! Nevertheless, he enrolled and committed to studying hard, collaborating closely with a group of fellow students. He quickly realized that much in the field had changed, and there were many new skills he’d need to learn anew.

Darien has now graduated from two Nanodegree programs, and he’s doing something incredible—he’s collaborating with a group of fellow graduates to put his new skills into immediate practice, and he’s building out his own idea for a platform to share advanced experiments.

We chatted to Darien recently to hear about what drives his passion for learning, and to learn more about his exciting new collaboration.

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Building A Blockchain Career

How two-time Nanodegree program graduate Marie Leaf transformed her mindset, and launched a new career in a transformational field.

Building a Blockchain Career - Marie Leaf - Udacity - Student Success

Marie Leaf describes herself as a lifelong Udacity learner, and we’ve been so impressed and inspired not just by her incredible thirst for knowledge and self-motivation, but by all the ways she’s connected her learning experiences to her career advancement. Marie has built a unique career path that has led her to an exciting role in the blockchain field, and in our interview below, she discusses how learning with Udacity helped transform her mindset, and how she felt empowered to pursue the technology-centric career she really wanted for herself.

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Xi Palazzolo’s Journey to Career Success

From veterinary studies in China, to machine learning algorithms in Detroit, this two-time Nanodegree program graduate has been on a remarkable career journey.

Xi Palazzolo - Career Success - Detail

Xi Palazzolo was going to be a veterinarian. She completed her training in China, then moved to the US to study for a Master’s in Epidemiology. She planned to practice when she graduated. But her hopes were dashed when she discovered few clinics were willing to sponsor her work visa. What was she going to do? She had to find something else, in a different field entirely.

Fate intervened when Xi met her future husband. They moved to Detroit for his job, and she found a role at a university, evaluating the impact of the institution’s programs. She enjoyed the work, but she wanted more for her career.

She sat down with her husband and took a hard look at her situation. What transferable skills did she have? What investments of time and money would different career paths require? What fields genuinely excited her? Data was the answer for Xi, so she started working to build her skills. She enrolled in the Data Analyst Nanodegree program, and started learning the programming languages—like R and Python—she’d need to succeed in the field.

We’re happy to share that Xi recently landed a new role in data, and what’s more, she’s graduated from a second Nanodegree program in Machine Learning! We spoke with her to hear about how she landed an amazing new job in an industry she loves.

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Apply for the Udacity KPIT Autonomous Tech Scholarship Today

Udacity and KPIT have created a new scholarship for aspiring autonomous vehicle engineers in India. Successful applicants will enter Udacity’s Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program, and top performers will earn a job interview with KPIT!

Udacity - KPIT - Autonomous Tech Scholarship (3)

Today we’re pleased to announce the Autonomous Tech Scholarship, a new venture with global technology company KPIT. We have partnered with KPIT to offer scholarship opportunities to residents of India who are eager to enter the world of autonomous technology, and advance their careers in this transformational space.

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What is Democracy in the Internet Age?

An interview with Santiago Siri, founder of Democracy Earth, about blockchain-based voting technology, and becoming a “gatekeeper” of the voting process.

Santiago Siri - Built on Blockchain - Udacity - 2As we continue to explore blockchain’s potential impact on the world, we are paying particular attention during this election season to those individuals and organizations who are using this technology to address issues such as security, transparency, sovereignty, and identity.

One such organization is the Democracy Earth Foundation, founded by Santiago Siri.

When the MIT Technology Review included Santiago on their 2017 “Innovators Under 35” list, they described him as “using blockchain to devolve political decision-making power to citizens.” Wired Magazine, in a recent profile, offered an even more dramatic summary:

A new movement says that crypto-voting can purify democracy—and eventually eliminate the need for governments altogether.

We recently spoke with Santiago for our Built on Blockchain documentary series, and the more we learned about, and from, Santiago, the more clear it became why he has so quickly emerged as such a compelling voice in the blockchain space.

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The new Digital Freelancer Nanodegree program launches in MENA!

In collaboration with ‘Maharat min Google’, Google’s digital skills-building program in MENA, Udacity is launching a Nanodegree program specifically designed for students to learn the skills and tools needed to launch successful freelance careers.

Udacity Digital Freelancer Nanodegree program - MENA

Today marks the launch of an exciting new opportunity for the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region—our new Digital Freelancer Nanodegree program! We are thrilled to be launching this program in collaboration with ‘Maharat Min Google’, Google’s digital skills-building program for Arabic speakers. Together, our goal is to help empower aspiring learners to acquire the skills necessary to succeed in the global digital economy, with a special emphasis on women, and young workers just now preparing to enter the workforce.

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Sean Medlin: A ‘Grow with Google Developer Scholarship’ Success Story

This deserving scholarship recipient overcame incredible odds to earn this opportunity, and he’s now on the path to achieving a career dream he’s harbored since childhood!

Sean Medlin - Grow With Google - Scholarship - Udacity - Student Success

Sean Medlin is a young man, but he’s already experienced a great deal of hardship in his life. He’s had to overcome the kinds of obstacles that too often stop people’s dreams in their tracks, but he’s never given up. Sustained by a lifelong love for computers, an unshakeable vision for his future, and a fierce commitment to learning, Sean has steadfastly pursued his life and career goals. He’s done so against the odds, often without knowing whether anything would pan out.

Today, Sean Medlin is a Grow with Google Developer Scholarship recipient, on active duty in the US Air Force, with a Bachelor of Computer Science degree. He’s married to a woman he says is “the best in the world” and he’s just become a father for the second time. It’s been a long journey for a boy who lost his sister to cancer before he’d reached adulthood, and whose official education record listed him as having never made it past the eighth grade.  

But Sean keeps finding a way forward.  

The experience of getting to know people like Sean is almost too powerful to describe, but experiences like these are at the heart of why the Grow with Google Developer Scholarship is such an impactful initiative for us. It’s one thing to read the numbers at a high level, and feel joy and amazement that literally thousands of deserving learners have been able to advance their lives and careers through the scholarship opportunities they’ve earned. However, it’s an entirely different experience to witness the transformative power of opportunity at the individual, human level. One person. Their life. Their dreams. Their challenges, and their successes.

It’s our pleasure and our honor to introduce you to Sean Medlin, and to share his story.

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