UDACITY VR DEVELOPER NANODEGREE REVIEW

After I completed my VR Developer nanodegree program, following several long moments of self-appreciation, my next step was to write about the experience. But for some reason unknown to me, this posed some difficulty. I just couldn’t decide what exactly to write about and how to go about actually writing it. In light of this, I decided to employ technical writing techniques I was taught for writing laboratory experiment reports. If you’re not willing to read a slightly long but interesting (I guarantee) article that has details about the nanodegree, there’s a brief overview that can be found here.

                TITLE

  • Udacity VR Developer Nanodegree

                AIM

  • To gain necessary skills and know how to be relevant in the VR industry.
  • To learn the best practices when developing for VR.
  • To be part of a VR development community.
  • To discover career opportunities in VR development.

               APPARATUS USED

              THEORY

First, Udacity. Udacity is an online university that teaches the skills industry employers need today; delivers credentials endorsed by employers; and educates at a fraction of the cost of traditional schools. They are backed by industry giants like Google, Facebook, AT&T etc and they offer Nanodegree programs and credentials for courses like Web development, Data analysis, Mobile development, Artificial intelligence and so on. Yes, this description of Udacity was copied almost word for word from their about page here. Best to leave description of a company to the company itself.

For this particular article, I will limit my study to Udacity’s Virtual Reality Developing course. But before we begin, a brief description of virtual reality might be appreciated. Virtual Reality, as the name may imply to those of keen senses, is basically the technology that allows developers, artists and other creators to place users in any environment they deem fit. It provides a full 360 immersive experience for the user and is pretty much awesome. You can get a few more details about VR here. Now that the surface of VR as been scratched a bit, let’s go into what Udacity offers in its VR developers nanodegree programme.

The VR nanodegree is divided into two segments:

  • Core curriculum
  • Extracurricular

The core curriculum simply put, contains the key parts in virtual reality development with topics like VR Design, VR Scenes and Objects, VR Platforms and Applications and your Capstone project. The extracurricular section on the other hand, contains High Immersion VR Development using Unity or Unreal, 360 media and career development.

Udacity also sports various projects under each topic and provides personally tailored reviews on each project submission.

          METHODOLOGY

Below is my 30 step procedure for completion of the nanodegree.

  1. Convinced father to pay nanodegree tuition of $200 a month.
  2. Bought Gear VR and Cardboard.
  3. Signed up using student ID for a free month trial.
  4. Begun nanodegree; first topic “Introduction to Virtual Reality”.
  5. Watched videos on x2 speed (skipped most, because I had foundational knowledge).
  6. Finished project “Your first VR app” in less than an hour.
  7. Submitted and got an awesome review.
  8. Started next topic “VR Scenes and Objects”
  9. Watched videos on x2 speed.
  10. Finished project “Build an apartment” that same day.
  11. Submitted and got another awesome review.
  12. Repeated process for entirety of core curriculum. Completed in about two months.
  13. Waited for high immersion Unity development content to be available.
  14. Waited some more.
  15. Sent angry emails.
  16. Waited even more.
  17. During wait, participated in VR Jam organised by Udacity.
  18. Created awesome VR game called SpyVR.
  19. Did not win VR Jam because my teammates bailed on me but had loads of fun nonetheless.
  20. Upon release of high immersion content, after about 2-3 months begun learning again.
  21. Started IT placement at Imisi3D and used the lab’s HTC Vive which is required for high immersion.
  22. With overconfidence, watched videos at x2 speed.
  23. Attempted project “Rube Goldberg Challenge”
  24. Took over a month to complete project, rewatching videos numerous times and asking questions on Slack.
  25. Submitted project. Got rejected.
  26. Opened mouth in surprise.
  27. Corrected problems stated clearly in the project review. Resubmitted.
  28. Succeeded.
  29. Completed two other high immersion projects in less than a week. Including Capstone project.
  30. Graduated.

           RESULTS ACHIEVED

Normally, in laboratory reports, this usually contains experimental readings, graphs, calculations and whatnot. For this article however, I shall restrict it to the improvements I have obtained from taking this course. Since this is usually represented in some kind of table or chart, I shall emulate that by creating a table of each course and what I gained from it.

           TABLE OF TOPICS AND THEIR IMPACT

CORE CURRICULUM 

TopicImpact
Intro to VRNone; Already had this information
Scenes and ObjectsImproved knowledge of Camera positioning and lights
Software developmentBest UI practices for VR
VR DesignBetter knowledge of VR design workflow, ergonomics and presentation
Platforms & ApplicationsInformation on various major industries in VR
CapstoneFine tuning and deployment of finished VR product

EXTRA-CURRICULAR

TopicImpact
Rube GoldbergNone; Already had this information

Performance bottleneck

Advanced lighting, optimisation techniques, desktop VR deployment.
Career I haven’t taken all the career courses yet.

           PRECAUTIONS

  • I ensured I put in sufficient effort so as not to waste my father’s money.
  • I avoided cheating of any form.
  • I ensured I paid heed to what was said in each review of my projects.
  • I used Github for version control and to keep track of each project.

           CONCLUSION

During school laboratory experiments, I am always stuck at the conclusion. I can’t necessarily say I’m good at ending things or drawing an overall conclusion from an experience. But I shall try.

From the experiment performed above, it can be seen that partaking in the Udacity VR developer nanodegree can be quite beneficial for any who intend to delve into VR development. Apart from the certificate issued upon graduation that certifies your knowledge of VR stuff, the learning experience is nice and effective albeit slightly expensive.

by Tade Ajiboye

VR Developer at Imisi3D.