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Online education startup Udacity today announced the start of two new nanodegree programs for robotics and digital marketing. The company will also bring aboard about 20 new hiring partners, including Lockheed Martin, Fiat Chrysler, and IBM Brazil.
“They [hiring partners] consider our students when they’re done and honor their credential as a serious credential. They look at our curriculum, they look at our students, they help us develop our curriculum with us,” founder Sebastian Thrun told VentureBeat in a phone interview.
Udacity now works with more than 50 companies. Other hiring partners added today include SAP, iRobot, and autonomous car sensor company Velodyne.
Companies like Bosch and Lockheed Martin helped create the robotics curriculum, while Facebook, HubSpot, and Google helped build the digital marketing program.
Nanodegrees in robotics and digital marketing join nanodegrees in fields like deep learning, front-end web development, and self-driving cars.
Udacity was made in 2011 after Thrun and computer scientist Peter Norvig open-sourced an introduction to artificial intelligence course that drew the attention of more than 100,000 people.
In 2014, Udacity transitioned from massive open online courses (MOOCs) to nanodegree certifications that train potential employees to meet the demands of employers in emerging fields.
Since the switch was made, Udacity has turned out 7,800 nanodegree graduates, 1,000 of whom have found jobs related to their area of study, according to a Udacity spokesperson.
Thrun said he wants the robotics program to help people find jobs with startups and laboratories working with robotics but that he also sees overlap in the growing drone and self-driving car industries.
“I think we’re filling a gap,” he said. “We can go in and very quickly create a curriculum to supply the things hiring partners want to see.”
To join the robotics nanodegree program, you must know Python, calculus, physics, and how to use algorithms. Digital marketing requires only the ability to use a computer.
Robotics is not a permanent new course. The first of two three-month terms will start this spring and will cost $2,400. Digital marketing is $999 for three months.
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