C++ Skills and Career Advice from a Self-Driving Car Engineer

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This week we launched the new C++ Nanodegree program, designed to teach students the industry-relevant programming skills to code robotics, self-driving cars, media platforms, servers, and fast-performance applications! We’re excited about this new program and thought our students might be, too. David Silver, head of Udacity’s School of Autonomous Systems, reached out to one of our Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program (SDC) graduates, Jeremy Cohen, to get an idea of how he uses C++ in his work as an Artificial Intelligence and Self-Driving Car Engineer.

Job as a Self-Driving Car Engineer with C++ programming

David: Hello Jeremy, you completed our Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program last year and it’s contributed to some career changes in your life, could you tell us a bit about that?

Jeremy: That’s correct. I think it’s important to give a bit of context around my education experience. I live in France, and here, when you decide that you’re interested in engineering, you are given a couple of education and career paths to choose from. In my case, after high school, I enrolled in engineering school, with a focus on computer science. I enjoyed my studies, and during the last six months, I took part in an internship to gain industry experience. Unlike in America, many of these internships begin with managerial roles. I spent a year or so working as a project manager for an artificial intelligence banking initiative.

It was going well and I felt proficient in my role, but I had this growing feeling that I wasn’t actually proficient in the technology that I was managing. I could manage the project deadlines and lead our team to the next step, but I wasn’t able to speak the technical language, understand the concepts, or review the code we were implementing.

I started to research avenues to gain more technical skills to supplement my university and project management background. I considered going back for another degree, but even that didn’t seem like the way to gain current industry-relevant skills. In talking with my brother about the situation, he said: “Go check out Udacity, they offer the type of skills you’re looking for.”

I landed on udacity.com, watched a video about the new Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program and immediately knew – this was what I had been looking for. It didn’t force me to spend another year at school, was self-paced, and would allow me to grow in skills I needed. I applied for the program within 30 minutes.

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Your Guide to a Robotics Career in 2019 and Beyond

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If you want to work in an industry that will change the world, a robotics career is a top choice. It’s a hyper-growth field, set to revolutionize nearly every industry. From medicine to logistics, agriculture to home gadgets, robotics is going to become one of the twenty-first century’s most important fields.

Guide for robotics jobs in 2019

That makes it a great time to think about a robotics career. The most innovative companies on the planet are currently having to search hard to find the qualified robotic engineering talent they need. If you can offer the experience and skills they are looking for, you can choose from a huge range of roles with interesting projects and impressive salaries.

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Lyft-Udacity Scholarships Drive Women’s Futures Forward

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In September 2017, Lyft and Udacity announced the Lyft-Udacity Scholarship Program, a joint program dedicated to increasing diversity in the field of self-driving cars, and helping people take that first step to becoming a self-driving car engineer. Over 8,000 people from around the world applied for the 400 available scholarships to Udacity’s Intro to Self-Driving Car Nanodegree program.  

Lyft sponsors scholarship for Udacity's Intro to Self-Driving Cars program

According to a recent Boston Consulting Group study, partially autonomous cars will be available in large numbers by next year with the biggest growth in the next two decades. By 2025, the market for partially and fully autonomous vehicles is estimated at $42 billion (and $77 billion by 2035). According to Catalyst, however, women held only 26.7% of jobs in the motor vehicle and motor vehicle equipment manufacturing industry in 2017.

Diversity is crucial for creating solutions that serve everyone. That’s why Udacity and Lyft partnered to create these scholarships specifically targeted to communities that are underrepresented in technology industry roles. The 400 scholarship winners came from more than 30 countries, including Bolivia, Cameroon and Bangladesh, 29% identified as Black or African American, another 29% identified as Hispanic or Latinx, 19% considered themselves a member of the LGBTQ community, and over 40% were women.

In honor of International Women’s Day–a day to raise awareness on women’s rights and equality–we would like to highlight a few of the exceptional women, their personal journeys to success and how they are inspiring change in autonomous systems tech.

These are their stories.

Meya: Recent College-Grad Lands Job as Software Application Engineer at Workday

International Women's Day Udacity and Lyft Student Meye

Meya completed the the Lyft-Udacity Scholarship as she was finishing up her degree in Computer Science at California State University, Monterey Bay. As a student, she interned at the Space Systems Lab of the Naval Postgraduate School, where she programmed a High Altitude Balloon payload using a Raspberry Pi and Python. While she felt comfortable working in an academic setting, learning with Udacity taught Meya what it takes to succeed in a technical business environment: She learned how to review code, collaborate on Slack, and most importantly, solve problems independently. She graduated from college in May 2018 and started a new job as a software developer in July. “The interviewers were really impressed with my Intro to Self-Driving Car Nanodegree, especially my GitHub profile and portfolio of projects,” she said. “It was a real differentiator.” As a next career step, Meya plans to enroll in Udacity’s Self-Driving Car Nanodegree program in order to transition into a role with more machine learning and computer vision skills.

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What Are Flying Cars?

Find the right nanodegree program for you.

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I work in the field of flying cars. Yes, flying cars, really! It’s admittedly not a common field, but flying cars are very much a reality, and every day we get another step closer to full-scale adoption and application of this technology. That may come as a surprise to some, and I understand that, because there’s a lot of misinformation out there. That’s why, in this post, I’m going to provide a working definition of what flying cars actually are and an explanation of how they cleverly make use of features from helicopters and airplanes. 

What is a flying car illustration

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How Bruno Found His Passion for Robotics–and His Dream Job!

Bruno Santos recently landed a graduate role as an Autonomous Engineer after enrolling in the Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree program. He was able to move from Portugal to the UK to take up the role, and loves the work he does everyday. It is the happy conclusion to a career journey in which Bruno pursued physics, then data science, before deciding neither field was what he truly wanted to do. It was only when he found robotics that he knew he’d found a subject he felt really passionate about—one where he could go beyond theory to build real projects.

Udacity Robotics Nanodegree program personal story

We spoke with Bruno to hear how he took what he learned in his Nanodegree program and turned it into his new career.

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Industry Disruptor Q&A: Meet Michael Costa, Medical Roboticist

Become a robotics software engineer.
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We recently opened enrollments for the new class of Udacity’s Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree program. In it, you’ll focus on building a portfolio of five hands-on projects using ROS and C++ (the most important programming language in robotics) and you’ll learn core robotics algorithms.

As we prepare to get started in a few weeks time, we thought it would be useful to speak with someone who already works in robotics to get an insider view on the robotics sector. We recently caught up with Michael Costa, a robotics engineer who has a passion for working with medical devices.

Quote from Medical Robotics Engineer Michael Costa

He gave us a great insight into his career journey and some great advice on how someone new to robotics can land their first position.

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The Udacity Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree Program Gets An Intensified Career Focus

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At Udacity, we work closely with leading industry employers to develop the right curriculum to support your career advancement. We believe there is no better way to understand exactly what skills top employers are looking for than to speak directly to those companies and professionals. Today, as a result of insights gleaned from our collaborators in the field of robotics, we are announcing the next generation of our Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree program!

Updated Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree Program

The changes we are rolling out are expressly focused on today’s intense demand for robotics talent. We know that top employers are seeking engineers with these core robotics skills: ROS, Gazebo, C++, and robotics algorithms. So, we’re introducing a newly streamlined and laser-precise version of our program that will focus specifically on these core skills in a single, four-month intensive term.

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