back to article Fancy coughing up for a £2,000 'nanodegree' in flying car design?

Udacity has cooked up a £2,000 "nanodegree" that "teaches students how to design their own flying cars". "Are you ready for a future in this transformational field? Apply by February 7, and take your place in the historic inaugural class. You can even earn a special 'Early Adopter' first-term tuition offer!" burbles the online …

  1. nil0
    Headmaster

    Nano

    Presumably a nanodegree is 0.000000001 of a full degree?

    Going to cost a bit to finish, then...

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      And by my calculations

      the study time should be measured in milliseconds.

      Not even time to plug the electrodes in.

      1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: And by my calculations

        £2,000 for a nanodegree means £2,000,000,000,000 for the one degree. That's almost x2600 Britain's £772 billion budget.

        1. ~mico
          Pint

          Re: And by my calculations

          For that budget, one can indeed hope to build a good flying car...

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Nano

      More the point, who is going to teach Udacity how to build a flying car? No one has demonstrated a working one.

      1. Paul 129
        Headmaster

        Re: Nano

        Actually quite a number have. The Russians even had a flying tank https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonov_A-40.

        Practicality of competing requirements (airworthiness, weight, power, safety, suspension, armor, not chopping up people with a great big propeller) seem to be why these never, really get off the ground.

      2. John Bailey

        Re: Nano

        Yes they have. Years ago. It was even built, and a few still fly.

        Problem was.. you needed both a driving license and a flying license.

        And an airfield to land and take off from. And the wings and tail were bolted on, instead of being mechanically deployed.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Nano

          A few are in various stages of development nowadays that don't require bolting (TerraFugia, PAL-V, AeroMobil) but all of them still have the driving+flying license+aircraft certification+needing a runway problem that has plagued flying cars ever since someone thought of the idea.

    3. DeVino
      Facepalm

      Re: Nano

      Perusing the syllabus I suspect Femto would be a more suitable (and alliterative) prefix.

      I presume the course in cars is "fly by night" only.

  2. wolfetone Silver badge
    Coat

    I call App Britain.

  3. monty75

    Yeah but do they teach you how to make a slick promo video for your Kickstarter vapourware?

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      slick promo video (and snake oil selling) classes

      is probably 90% of the course

      1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge
        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: slick promo video (and snake oil selling) classes

          ...none of which are worth the paper they are written (probably).

          1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

            Re: slick promo video (and snake oil selling) classes

            "...none of which are worth the paper they are written (probably)."

            If you read "Weapons of Math Destruction", the author has a right old go at what's happened with "for-profit" educational establishments in the US.

            They have HUGE marketing budgets.

  4. Len Goddard

    A little over the top

    It was a long time ago, but I don't remember my Private Pilot's License requiring a master's degree in aircraft design. Principles of flight, yes, but not structural airframe design or anything like that. I suppose it depends on the target audience - if you are trying to produce people capable of writing software for an advanced autopilot system you need a different skillset from anyone trying to build an autonomous flying machine from scratch.

    TBH, it is not clear to me who constitutes the target audience for this "product". There seems little reason to produce self-drive software for flying cars until we actually have flying cars and modern commercial aircraft already have so much fight-control automation there is concern that it is actually deskilling the pilots.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: A little over the top

      I suspect your PPL is significantly more useful though! As you say the target audience is poorly defined, it's not as if we aren't already producing people with the skills needed to programme the software for an advanced autopilot system and I suspect it takes longer than two terms.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A little over the top

        > it's not as if we aren't already producing people with the skills needed to programme the software for an advanced autopilot system and I suspect it takes longer than two terms.

        For that bit, two terms is correct, as I recall (it was a long time ago *and* I didn't pass). But we are talking about the mere implementation of control systems, not advancing the state of the art.

  5. wiggers

    They should have a pico-module all about Blockchain, that should get them flocking in!

  6. Milton Silver badge

    And the job opportunities?

    And the job opportunities?

    If the "nano-degree" and its blurb were not sufficiently hilarious tosh, which aeronautical engineering company is going to hire the "nano grads"? No one who already has a decent engineering/science degree is going to go near this—why would they?—so who, precisely will take people dumb enough to widdle £2k like this? How will their insurance look? As hordes of flying cars take to the air (which isn't going to happen anyway) and periodically drop out of it and kill people (which is why it won't happen), who will be first to say "Oh yeah, our flight control software was written in Python by a blerk with an 11-plus and a nano-degree"?

    And before anyone suggests that thousands or even millions of flying cars will be as safe as modern airliners, reflect upon this—

    * They will be operated more like taxis, with exceptionally high landing/takeoff cycles, which are always the most dangerous part of flying.

    * Airliners are not the safest form of transport anyway, unless and only if measured by passenger mile. Per journey, buses are actually safer. Flying cars will be much more like buses for journey frequency and length.

    * The idea that a flying taxi operator will employ people to the standards of airliner engineers, working to the same regulatory standards and achieving remotely similar safety levels is pie in the sky. Short of some miraculous new propulsion technology and extraordinary ATC advances, flying cars will remain niche, minority and will never be used in large numbers over cities—the only place they'd have been useful. (Cities are by nature full of people, aka victims of aerial debris. Imagine our attitude to plane crashes if, on the very rare occasions they occur, the plane always came down in a city.)

    Some of the same points apply to drones, which is why I suspect that idea of hundreds operating over a city is equally daft.

    1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: And the job opportunities?

      And the job opportunities?

      They should be very good indeed.

      In fact, if any nanodegree graduate is, for some bizarre reason, unable to immediately find a job writing software for flying cars then their enthusiasm for this course shows them to be ideally suited for a lucrative career in scrap metal.

      As it happens, I am in a position to sell them the rights to a large wrought iron lattice tower that the French Government is keen to dispose of.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: And the job opportunities?

        And the job opportunities?

        Their ads for the $3000 self-driving car course are plastered with the average salary for experts in the field.

        Of course they make no promises that after completing a 120 hour python course you will immediately get the same salary as a Stanford PhD working at Google for 5years - that would be illegal <cough> Trump university </cough>

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: And the job opportunities?

          There are plenty of opportunities, but they're all for nanojobs, paying up to $50,000 * 10-9 per annum.

    2. Len Goddard

      Re: And the job opportunities?

      11-plus?? Showing your age there, mate.

      1. Random Handle

        Re: And the job opportunities?

        >11-plus?? Showing your age there, mate.

        We still have the 11 plus in this neck of the woods - though there's there's the shopping centre from hell built over Avro and Ford - so little chance of flying cars I think.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Degree"

    I was under the impression that "degree" was a protected title in English (and presumably European) law. How are they getting away with marketing something that is plainly not a degree, as a degree?

    Can I start calling myself a Nanochartered Civil Engineer? How about a Microbarrister?

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: "Degree"

      How are they getting away with marketing something that is plainly not a degree, as a degree?

      By using the meaningless term "nanodegree". Or in old money, four fifths of fuck all of a degree.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: "Degree"

        It is only an offence if they appear to be from a UK university.

        You can't offer a degree from "Oxfordshire University" but you can sell a degree from the South Houston Institute of Technology in the UK

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: "Degree"

          "You can't offer a degree from "Oxfordshire University" but you can sell a degree from the South Houston Institute of Technology in the UK"

          That's treading on thin ice, given that Houston is in Renfrewshire. There's another Houston somewhere else that has been around for a few decades, but Houston, the real one, has been around since at least 1265.

    2. Steve 114
      Coat

      Re: "Degree"

      At least a MicroBarrister would have more integrity than a PFIaccountant..

  8. Alan Sharkey

    Uber wants you

    I reckon Uber will employ all the flying 'nano' experts they can find - so job security is sorted

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flying cars

    Can't we just upsize drones?

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Flying cars

      Your choices are small enough to fit in one lane of traffic and too loud to go near anywhere residential or quiet enough to land near home but eats both lanes, half the pavement on each side and struggles to lift one average man. Once you in the air, you have to land at once to comply with minimum reserve fuel requirements.

      Ask again next year because there might be lighter batteries available.

  10. DNTP

    Look inside your wallet. Is there money?

    Now imagine your wallet with no money in it. Congratulations, you've just virtually simulated the industry standard development and investment process of flying cars. Respond to this comment to prove you've completed this training course, and I will personally award you a picodegree.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Look inside your wallet. Is there money?

      Well, last week ma and da Missus went on line and complee the coarse.

      As i wuas saying to her, "you know last weak we could not spill progamer , now dis weak we are one!!!"

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Look inside your wallet. Is there money?

        Sadly that happens all the time here on the left pond

        A young women of shall we say 'limited formal education' was interviewed on the local news having borrowed $x,000 for a 2 week programmer boot camp. So if she didn't get one of those silicon Valley jobs it could only be due to sexism - because she now had the skills (or possibly skillz?)

  11. MonkeyCee Silver badge

    2k

    Two grand is tuition for a year at most EU universities. For courses towards a real degree.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2k

      In comparison two grand is all of 3 days of corporate training from the likes of QA, so from that perspective it's really not all that bad a deal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2k

      I wish - it's costing my son £9000 per year for his degree at a UK university.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: 2k

        But you are in the eu so it would be free to study in eg Germany

        (for the next 14months anyway)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 2k

          > But you are in the eu so it would be free to study in eg Germany

          Assuming of course that you can pass the competitive admission requirements.

      2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: 2k

        "I wish - it's costing my son £9000 per year for his degree at a UK university."

        Well, with all the friends he'll be making it'll pay back in no time. Presuming he's at a Russel group uni, the jobs for the boys should see him through.

        If he's not, then I'd seriously suggest getting him onto a German or Dutch university course that's taught in english.

        Netherlands is about 2k a year. Germany is free, but you need to prove you can support yourself (~9k euro for a year). Academic entry requirements are about the same as UK universities.

        If he's living at home while studying it might be cheaper. But if he's living out, it would appears to be pure insanity to study in the UK. Well, in England. I hear it's still free for Scots to study in Scotland.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 2k

          > I hear it's still free for Scots to study in Scotland.

          For undergraduate study, it is free for students ordinarily resident in Scotland or the rest of the EU, with the exception of England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Note that this is based on residence, not on nationality (a Scottish person ordinarily resident in England would have to pay, whereas an Englishman in Scotland does not).

          * http://www.studyinscotland.org/how-to-apply/funding-and-fees/

  12. whatsyourShtoile

    universal basic qualifications

    Instead of giving everybody money to live on, we could give everybody a degree for free. We could even let them call it whatever they want.

    1. DNTP

      Re: universal basic qualifications

      Hello fellow Thunderwood College graduate. Go Woodies!

  13. xperroni
    Facepalm

    Oh, Udacity

    I've done a couple Udacity nanodegrees and I'm generally satisfied with the experience, but I have to agree they went a bit overboard with this one. From the curriculum they could just have called it "self-piloting drone nanodegree", but no – not eye-catching enough for the marketing people, I reckon.

    1. Steve 114

      Re: Oh, Udacity

      Tell us more about 'nanodegrees'. Relatives have done UK honours 'degrees' that were a certifiable waste of time, whereas 6-week intensive courses in web-design (?) led to instant, forever, employability. Back in the day I did just 2 weeks wonderful COBOL, and never looked back. Somewhere there's some middle ground, but it isn't airborne.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Oh, Udacity

        "Back in the day I did just 2 weeks wonderful COBOL"

        2 weeks? That was a long course. 1 Week FORTRAN but missed day 1 due to a diary clash with field work.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Oh, Udacity

        "Back in the day I did just 2 weeks wonderful COBOL, "

        That's barely time to write out the divisions on coding sheets for the COBOL version of "Hello World"

  14. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    If, by the end of your degree, you'd built your own flying car it would be worthwhile.

  15. 's water music Silver badge

    What the buggy whip maker did next

    Technology will destroy jobs, they said. Cereal Cafés for millennials will put the 'get your degree certificate free in a pack of cornflakes' marketers out of work, they said.

    Well who's laughing now. (hint - it's the innovating disruptors, that's who)

  16. druck
    Facepalm

    Moller Waller

    The IET illustrated the story with a picture of the Moller flying car, and we know how well that worked out.

  17. Jonathan 27

    If it's not an accredited college or university, it's not an accreditation. Might as well give that money to Trump University.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Not necessarily. Many of the Coursera / Udacity courses are very good, they are taught by world experts, have included projects/tests to make sure you understood it and if you pay the money proof you completed it.

      I would be more interested in a candidate that had completed a bunch of these courses on specific relevent advanced topics than somebody who had done a 3year degree in ICT at Podunk State

  18. Goldmember

    This sounds to me...

    Like they're trying to make a game, or are gathering data of some sort. But instead of hiring a dev and test team the traditional way, they're roping in developers and getting them to do various amounts of work and to generate test data, in exchange for an "accreditation" which will be recognise precisely nowhere afterwards.

    Oh, and they're getting said devs to pay for the privilege.

    Smart.

  19. sad_loser

    Top NB reference

    Top roundabouting

  20. JLV Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Just me?

    I find the idea of someone ponying up $$$ for this course being in any way involved in the operation of fast heavy flying objects very disturbing.

    icon cuz danger and flying

  21. SVV Silver badge

    Good for something....

    Imagine just how hard and how long you would laugh if you ever got a c.v. submitted to you with this qualification on it......... I think I'd ring them up to ask what it consisted of, just to hear the reply "two terms of basic physics and Python" and see if I could hold myself together again before I asked them how much it cost.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good for something....

      > Imagine just how hard and how long you would laugh if you ever got a c.v. submitted to you with this qualification on it

      I don't know if you have to read CVs as part of your job, but you would be amazed.

      One that sticks in my memory was someone with thousands of hours experience flying all kinds of aircraft in Microsoft flight simulator, or whatever it was called.

      The vacancy was for a first officer position on the 737.

      PS: we did not laugh though. We thought it was seriously sad in many ways.

  22. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Benoullis principle

    Not a law - and not even correct when applied to wings!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Benoullis principle

      > Not a law - and not even correct when applied to wings!

      And not spelled "Benoullis" either.

      (that would be "Bernoulli", or "Bernoulli's" if you intended to use the genitive)

  23. ecofeco Silver badge

    Seems like something is missing

    Oh yeah, there are no flying cars.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just call it an online training course. $2000 seems quite cheap compared to some tech training you might go for.

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