Udacity and Intel Launch Nanodegree Program for Edge AI Developers

Udacity, one of the leading for-profit online educational services providers, has launched a new online certification program to train developers in deep learning (DL) and computer vision, with the aim of accelerating the development and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) models at the edge.

The newly announced Intel Edge AI for IoT Developers Nanodegree Program was developed with Intel and uses the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit to provide this training. Based on convolutional neural networks, the OpenVINO toolkit is designed to allow developers to deploy pre-trained DL models through a high-level C++ or Python inference engine API integrated with application logic The program should take about three months to complete, the company says. Any student working for a company can also leverage Intel DevCloud for the Edge to develop, test and run their workloads on a cluster of the latest Intel hardware and software, Intel says.

"Historically, students have learned how to build and deploy deep learning models for the cloud," said Jonathan Ballon, VP and GM of Intel's Internet of Things Group, in a statement. "With Udacity, we are training AI developers to go where the data is generated in the physical world: the edge. Optimizing direct deployment of models on edge devices requires knowledge of unique constraints like power, network bandwidth and latency, varying compute architectures and more. The skills this course delivers will allow developers -- and companies that hire them -- to implement learnings on real-world applications across a variety of fields."

The new Nanodegree is part of a growing lineup of industry-led, career-oriented, online certification programs Udacity has been offering since 2005. Udacity has trademarked the term "nanodegree," but the concept of an institution-agnostic micro-credential isn't new, and the company isn't the only provider. Coursera, for example, partners with companies such as Google to provide a series of "microdegrees."

"This program is part of Udacity's commitment to provide training for 1 million developers worldwide," said Udacity's CEO Gabe Dalporto, in a statement. "Our collaboration with Intel will open the doors for students to learn deployment of cutting-edge AI technologies at the edge and aid those with limited access to educational resources to grow in their fields."

Udacity is also offering a free subset of the course for those unable to commit to the full Nanodegree program. The Intel Edge AI Fundamentals with OpenVINO does not include projects or technical mentor support, the company says, but it offers in-depth knowledge on how to develop AI solutions for the edge.

Udacity's Nanodegree curriculum is the result of a strategic pivot by CEO and co-founder Sebastian Thrun, whose company had been one of the leading providers of MOOCs for higher education. In 2013 Thrun abandoned the MOOC, declaring that his company had "a lousy product," and announced plans to shift focus from higher ed to corporate training.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at