Udacity Self-Driving Car Nanodegree Graduation

THE photo

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, that one in particular is worth around twenty thousand views on LinkedIn. Ha!

In case you didn’t already know, that’s David Silver, Head of the Udacity Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree Program, on my right and Sebastian Thrun, the man, the myth, the legend, the “godfather of the self-driving car”, winner of the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, and founder of Google’s self-driving car program, on my left. That photo is a big deal. It is to me, anyway.

Jeremy and Carla

Last week I spent a few days in San Francisco with my wife, driving down to San Carlos on Thursday to attend the first ever graduation ceremony for the Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree Program. It was kind of magical. I thought I would recognize more of my fellow students (130 of us total in attendance) than I did, but I made some great memories with the ones I already knew online and even a few that I didn’t.

New friends

A couple of other high points from the evening:

  • Sebastian recounting being repeatedly approached by Larry Page who demanded to know why, exactly, self-driving cars would never work in the real world, and eventually offering Sebastian an additional salary to start up Google’s self-driving car program.
  • David Silver’s sage advice: “When you’re trying to break into a new field, the answer always has to be ‘yes’.”

I’m eternally grateful to Udacity for such a wonderful experience. I’m so glad I was able to attend it.