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Case Study

High stakes, high reward: How the U.S. Air Force is building job-ready digital talent to support their mission.



How Udacity Helped




of graduates applying their talent to take on bigger roles

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With a total force of 689,000 personnel, airmen and women work to support all aspects of airpower, which includes five core missions: air and space superiority; global strike; rapid global mobility; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; and command and control. Airpower also requires people and resources dedicated to unit readiness, base infrastructure, and talent management.

"With Udacity, we stood up Digital U. The whole point within the USAF is that we don't care what we hired you for. If you want to learn how to code, do data science, AI, cloud engineering, come and learn. We care only that you’re passionate and want to work."

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Lauren Knausenberger

CIO for the Department of the Air Force


Digital Talent Slow To Make Meaningful Impact

To continue delivering on these five core missions, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) knows it needs to radically transform and create job-ready digital talent across its entire organization. Airmen and women at all levels and divisions of the organization play an important role in delivering USAF’s mission of “air power anytime, anywhere.”

Its time-tested, world-class approach to creating and maintaining a combat-ready organization was no longer delivering the needed results. Boot camps and other in-person training methods could not update fast enough to keep pace with emerging technologies, nor could they accommodate for the constant redeployment of its personnel. Digital talent was not growing fast enough to make a meaningful impact on the organization. USAF needed a partner that could create job-ready talent from within and provide a flexible platform that could scale to support all 689,000 personnel located around the world.


Optimizing A Tailored Learning Experience For A Global Workforce

USAF and Udacity have partnered to create the digital talent needed to achieve “airpower anytime, anywhere.” With over 10 years’ experience optimizing digital talent for our customers, Udacity crafted a program that fits into the Air Force context:

  • Developing talent with content built for and taught by practitioners, supported by expert mentors available 24/7. Focused on data science, cloud, programming, and UX.
  • Recruiting and retaining talent with our digital talent consultants who help the airmen and women connect their career goals with USAF’s needs.
  • Scaling talent org-wide with an approach that simultaneously accommodates airmen and women’s busy lives across geographies, assignments, and various talent goals.


118% Measurable ROI from Udacity Filling Critical Skill Gaps

Thanks to the Udacity partnership, USAF is now much better positioned to deliver “airpower anytime, anywhere,” with:

  • Improved job-ready digital talent and team performance: 45% applying their talent to take on bigger roles than their current ones and 10% moving to new roles filling critical digital gaps to support the mission (within the first 6 months of completing the program).
  • Increased productivity and decreased costs: 118% measurable ROI for every dollar invested in creating digital talent.
  • Enabling digital talent on a global scale: Digital U and Udacity are creating digital talent simultaneously across 3 continents and 6 time zones.

The success of this partnership has led other DoD organizations to take notice. Udacity is now working with the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) as well as partnering with the U.S. Space Force to help them fulfill their mission of becoming becoming a digitally-fluent branch of the U.S. military.

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