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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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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She’s Passionately Curious, and She Works On Self-Driving Robots.

This Nanodegree program grad describes herself as “passionately curious.” That curiosity has taken An Nguyen to an amazing new career as an Embedded Systems Engineer, working on self-driving robots!

An Nguyen - Udacity - Student Success - Self-Driving Robots

In her LinkedIn profile, An Nguyen includes a famous quote from Albert Einstein:  “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” She feels this quote really describes her, and while we respectfully disagree with the first half, “passionately curious” is absolutely right.

When she graduated college with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, An landed a great job as a design engineer for a transportation company in Ohio. She did well at the company, got promoted, and worked on high-profile projects. But her curiosity wouldn’t allow her to rest on her laurels. She’d been reading about exciting new technologies that were predicted to change the world, and she was feeling the lure of new career challenges.

She started looking at online programs, found Udacity, and decided to enroll in the Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program. It was as if a light bulb went on as soon as she started studying.

Today, An is an Embedded Systems Engineer for a Forensic Engineering company. She works on software and hardware related to self-driving robots, and she loves her company. We spoke to An to hear about how she made it happen.

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Yes, the robots are coming, but no, that’s not bad news

Jobs aren’t going away, but they are evolving. Future career success means learning the right skills, now.

Udacity - Robots - School of Autonomous Systems

Anywhere the future of work is being thought about, debated, forecast, and fought over, there are conversations going on about the role automation is going to play. The primary question that shows up in virtually every conversation takes on many forms, but the gist is always the same—will the robots free us up for better jobs, or will they simply take our existing ones away?

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What is an “Autonomous System?”

Explore the history of the term, decipher its modern meaning, and discover some surprising examples of autonomy in action!

Udacity - What is an autonomous system - Mike Salem

While words and phrases such as “robot,” “self-driving car,” and “artificial intelligence” are in fairly wide use these days, it’s much less common to come across the term “autonomous system.” And yet, robots and self-driving cars are both autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence is a big part of what makes them possible. So why is “autonomous system” not a more familiar term?

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Announcing the Winner of the KUKA Robotics Challenge!

Robotics Software Engineer student Matthew DeHaven’s code runs our 2-D maze in the best time of 59.1 seconds.

Udacity - Kuka Challenge - Winner - Robotics

The results are in! Matthew DeHaven, a current Robotics Software Engineering Nanodegree program student, has taken first place in the KUKA Robotics Challenge. This former graduate of Udacity’s Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program will head to Munich next month to visit the KIT Robotics Lab in Karlsruhe (where his winning submission was run), and also attend the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference.

Matthew was one of only a small handful of students to successfully pass the challenge simulator during the contest portion, and he had the both the fastest time on the simulator (36 seconds) and on the actual KUKA robotics arm in the lab (59.1 seconds).

You can see his winning submission below:

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Schools Make it Easier to Chart your Learning and Career Path

As a lifelong learner, your journey of discovery is ongoing. To ensure you’re able to make the best choices to achieve your unique life and career goals, our Nanodegree programs are organized into schools that offer clear roadmaps to success.

Udacity - Career Path

Is there such a thing as too much choice? When it comes to learning, we don’t think so. But, having a wide range of learning options at your disposal can make charting your own path to career success complicated. Each of us brings a unique set of skills and experience to the table, each of us has our own unique sense of work values, and each of us aims to represent a unique value to prospective employers. But even with a clear end goal in sight, it can be challenging to determine what exactly you need to do to reach your career goals. 

With 30 different Nanodegree programs available, Udacity offers a wide range of learning opportunities. But how do you know what to take, and when to take it?

That’s where Udacity’s “Schools” can help!

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