Learning something new is a difficult process, but teaching yourself something new is even more challenging. Abhinav Singh, Founding Engineer of Amazon Web Services Strategic Security Transformation team, took on that challenge and became an accomplished, mostly self-taught cybersecurity research and development expert.
In this post, we talk with Abhinav about why he became a Udacity Instructor and his experience creating the System Security course within the soon-to-be-released Security Engineer Nanodegree program.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself, your professional expertise and the Nanodegree program you teach.
A: I got into the security industry just out of college, but my love for computer security started early when I began my Bachelor’s in Computer Science.
It’s been well over a decade since then, and throughout that time I’ve spent my career working for Fortune 100 companies, publishing books and papers, inventing patents, teaching courses and creating open-source projects. It’s been a very fulfilling journey both personally and professionally, but the field of cybersecurity is so dynamic that it always feels like day one.
I had the privilege of contributing to the System Security course within the upcoming Security Engineer Nanodegree program. Working with the Udacity team, I was able to take an idea, give it shape and then formulate that idea into a course that students around the world can utilize and learn from. It was a great experience!
Q: What inspired you to become a Udacity Instructor?
A: My security knowledge is mostly self-taught. I learned a lot from the security community through reading research papers, blogs and write-ups that other researchers had shared on the internet.
My learning experience infused me with a sense of community and I have always felt that I have a moral responsibility to give back to the cybersecurity community.
Udacity is a huge platform with a wide-reaching presence. It’s an ideal place for connecting instructors and students from around the world. Together, experienced instructors and knowledge-seeking students make up a strong community that provides knowledge, skills, guidance and encouragement right from the start. That was my whole inspiration.
Q: What did you learn while creating your Udacity course?
A: I have created other courses in the past, but this was my first experience working in such a formal and professional setting. When creating the course with Udacity, I was part of a team as I worked alongside my dedicated project manager, graphic designer and project lead. I came to learn that the process for developing the course is really well designed. I now have first-hand experience as to why Udacity courses and programs are such high-quality.
On a personal level, I also learned a lot about how to translate my thought process and ideas into meaningful and actionable objectives.
Q: One of the key benefits of becoming a Udacity Instructor is the opportunity to cement your reputation as a domain expert and expand your professional network. Has this been your personal experience? Tell us about it.
A: Once the Security Engineer Nanodegree program is released, I’m confident it’ll help boost my professional image as a valuable contributor in the cybersecurity space.
Q: What advice would you give those who are considering becoming a Udacity Instructor but haven’t leaped just yet?
A: The advice I would like to share for aspiring instructors is to embrace Udacity’s course creation and design process and follow all of the steps.
Honestly, I initially had doubts about the process we followed while creating the course. For example, we developed the project before creating the course content. At times, it felt like we were working backward and everything wasn’t connecting.
In the first two months, I worked on creating the project, developing outlines, selecting images, deciding on slides, etc. While my efforts sometimes felt disjointed, my project manager assured me that things would take shape slowly.
When we started working on the course builder platform (Coco) in the last month, everything began to come together and I could finally see the real shape of the project.
During the last week, before filming the videos, I was surprised and impressed when I saw the final course content. It looked great and I couldn’t have felt more proud of the course and the work we had done. It surely felt like an achievement. In the end, all my doubts were cleared and I could see the value in the process and the steps we took during the three months of work.
That’s my advice for aspiring instructors — trust and follow the process and things will take shape.
Learn more about becoming a Udacity instructor today.