Blog Learners Student Stories Meet the youngest Self-Driving Car Engineer – Aaron Ma | Student Story

Meet the youngest Self-Driving Car Engineer – Aaron Ma | Student Story

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Sometime back we highlighted the student story of Kush Singh, a 9 year old programmer who wants to found companies that can create technology. This week we have another young genius to blow your minds. The 11-year-old Self-Driving Car Engineer, Aaron Ma!

To say that he is anything less than the future of technology is an understatement. Aaron is already a graduate from Udacity’s Self Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program, Deep Reinforcement Learning Nanodegree program, and AI for Trading Nanodegree program as the youngest Udacity Nanodegree graduate. Apart from these, he has successfully graduated from more than 50 certificates from various online learning platforms.

Here’s what Aaron has to say:

Tell us something about yourself.

My name is Aaron Ma and I’m 10 years old. I have a lot of passion for Computer Science. When I was eight years old, I started to learn JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. I felt that I discovered a whole new world in front of me. From then I learned Java, TypeScript, Angular, JSON, Node.js, MongoDB, Algorithms, AWS, Google Cloud, ROS, Data Structures In Python, Swift, iOS, Android, TensorFlow.js, TensorFlow, Keras, NumPy, Computer Vision, Radar, LiDAR, Extended Kalman Filters, Unscented Kalman Filters, machine learning, C++, C, Python, R, Go, and earned over 50 certificates from various online learning platforms.

I love to play basketball and piano in my free time. I want to be a tech CEO one day and to contribute my knowledge to the community. Recently, I graduated from the Udacity Self Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program, Deep Reinforcement Learning Nanodegree, and AI for Trading Nanodegree program as the youngest Udacity Nanodegree graduate. I also gave a talk about Machine Learning at Google’s headquarters.

What got you interested in self-driving cars at such a young age? 

I wanted to challenge myself and have always dreamed of owning a self-driving car that could take me wherever I want to go. The thought that I could just sit back and relax or read a book, while the car drives itself had always fascinated me. Moreover, I got engaged in self-driving cars because based on my research global statistics from the United Nations, self-driving cars will be standard by 2050. I think self-driving cars could be one of the products in my company, Firebolt. I also believe I have the talent to build a product that is safe and good for the environment.

11-year-old Aaron Ma with Carla, Udacity's Self Driving Car
Aaron with Carla, Udacity’s Self-Driving Car

What is the first thing you want to do, now that you are a qualified self-driving car engineer?

The first thing I would like to do is to get $15,000 or more funds to build a real self-driving car since I’m already done writing code. I would like to seek any possibility to manipulate what I have learned and put into practice. An internship opportunity probably would be best for me now.

How does it feel to be the youngest self-driving car engineer?

It’s an honor to be the youngest Udacity graduate and the youngest self-driving car engineer. Many thanks to the staff at Udacity like Gina, and the legal team they gave me tremendous support and communications. And special thanks to the CEO of Udacity, Sebastian Thrun. He became my role model and inspiration when he encouraged me to start and finish shine. 

Graduating from the self-driving car Nanodegree program at such a young age is a commendable achievement. What was the most exciting part of the program? 

11-year-old Aaron Ma with David Silver
Aaron with David Silver, Head of Self-Driving Cars at Udacity

Throughout the Nanodegree program, the content, the mentors, the teachers, everything about it is immeasurable. The most exciting part of the program is Term 2’s final project Run Your Code on a Real Self Driving Car. Also, the next best part of the program was my graduation! On my graduation day (which was on June 18, 2019) I met some of the Autonomous Systems content developer and The David Silver, this is a true honor to me. I also put on the LiDAR on the top of the autonomous car. And the third best thing from the program was that I learned how to publish to GitHub using the official Udacity Git Style Flavoring Guide.

Do you think mentors help you during the program?

The mentors in the Self Driving Car Engineer Nano degree program helped me a lot! On one of the projects, I kept getting a TensorFlow error until my mentor pointed out that I was using the wrong TensorFlow attribute. Thanks, Baris K. for that!

Anything else you would like to add?

If you’re a Nanodegree student, I advise that you start and finish the Nanodegree, because you never know what immeasurable thing will happen after graduation from a Nano degree such as a new job or a job promotion, or starting your own business. Also, you get to make some new friends and collaborate on Capstone Projects. That’s a big point. 

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