17-Apr-2019

Ships, oceans and a Nanodegree program

Ritika Pradhan

Sometimes he doesn't sleep for 24 hours, sometimes he isn't in touch with his family for weeks, sometimes it takes him months to actually walk on the ground, sometimes he battles the chilling winds and sometimes the scorching sun but as he says "that's fine". All of this doesn't stop him from getting #HookedToUdacity and pursue his love for coding. 20190426 145529 resized

Here's to Angad Cheema, Chief Mate on an oil tanker ship employed by a Norwegian company and a proud Udacity student. We spoke to him after he shared this amazing tweet with us as a part of the Udacity Premier League:

Here are some excerpts:

1. Tell us something about your job. Please elaborate on what you do as the Chief Mate on Oil Tanker Ships.
I am sure that working on ships is an unusual field for the readers of this blog which primarily caters to programmers and data analysts. So, let's start the explanation with a familiar and easy understanding. Everyone, I am sure, has watched Titanic (the movie) once in their life. When that amazing ship departs Southampton (English Port), the camera focuses on an old guy with four golden stripes over his shoulder standing on the bridge wing looking proudly at the sea! Yes, that man! Unfortunately, I am not that guy, I am the one with three golden stripes, Deputy to the ship Captain and Second-in-command of the vessel, standing next to him. I am the one responsible for stowing huge tons of oil on the metal lady know as Ship and transport it around the globe. My job involves navigating the ship, handling cargo, maintenance of deck, supervising crew and officers, implementing safety onboard, carry out security-related duties.... and the list goes on. I work half year round on the ship. There are no Saturdays or Sundays, though, but the other half, I am free, back to the shore without any deadlines or work pressure and can do what I want. Trust me the working half is not an easy one, sailing across oceans with vessel rolling and pitching for days, and do not forget sitting on tons of oil is a challenging task. We are often told that we are not paid for the work we do, but it's the payment for living away from your home and family.

2. What stage of your life were you in when you enrolled for your first Nanodegree program?
I have always enjoyed writing HTML/CSS. It was back in 2012 when I wrote my first HTML webpage promoting my college batch. It was really exciting and I wanted to learn more. Eventually, I got busy with my job and due to the lack of good internet onboard, I never got much time to do what I really loved. When at home, I approached some web designing shops locally to keep me as an intern during my vacation, but it never worked out. There was no systematic plan to go about it. Finally, upon browsing the web, I stumbled across Udacity. First things first, I was impressed by the appeal of the website as the front end UI/UX was beautiful. Then on browsing deeper, I decided that it is time to learn android. I still have no clue why I opted for android but I just did. I did my first free course, back in 2016, with Udacity. It was at that stage in my life that I had got promoted from the rank of Second Mate to Chief Mate, which meant greater responsibility, greater stress, and longer working hours. But inner me still wanted me to focus and be back on track where I had left. Back in 2018, I thought it is definitely the time to resume what was unfinished and I finally ended up enrolling for the Android Basics Nanodegree.

3. Why did you decide to enroll in Udacity Nanodegree Program and did it meet your expectations?
I have a maritime background. The new technology has improved and changed the shipping field a lot. With each coming year, to cope up with the latest trends in shipping, we have to attend courses, pass examinations which require sincere dedication and time. I enrolled in Android Nanodegree just to ease the cause and to learn and create handy apps useful for the maritime community. There is a lot to explore in this field in terms of mobile development and I intend to start my journey with Android.

4. How difficult it is to complete a Nanodegree while always being on the sail, like currently, you are around Mexico?
A straight forward answer to this : Very Difficult. Right now, my vessel is operating between the Gulf of Mexico (USA ports) and Mexican ports. At my position, there are no fixed working hours and handling 50,000 tonnes of oil at any given time requires patience and dedication. Yes, I do get free hours, to resume Udacity but then comes the second devil - limited internet onboard. I must say my company is very generous in providing the crew with free internet, but the speed of the Satellite internet is not so great as the ship is always rolling, pitching, and storms and high winds deteriorate connection speeds. Luckily, I am connected with mobile internet off Mexico, helping me buffer the videos and access Udacity. However, this is always not the case if you are in the middle of the ocean. As of for my last Nanodegree, I had requested Udacity Support to grant me an extension and I was really glad they understood my position and gave me the time to complete my pending tasks. 20190307 133251 resized

5. Why did you enroll for the second course? What value do you think it will add to your career?
I opted for Nanodegree due to my passion toward learning code. Unfortunately, it is not at all related to my job. The lessons from Nanodegree are amazing, and I definitely think at some point of time in future, these skills will help me get into some field of programming. I haven't finished my second Nanodegree yet but I have already decided what is next in line to learn. Android Developer Nanodegree is a full-fledged course and I am sure that it will help me create complex applications for mobile devices.

6. What is your ultimate dream and do you think Udacity can help you achieve the same?
Having travelled enough around the world, touching each continent from Magellan straits to Vladivostok, I finally want to sit down, open up my laptop with a cup of coffee and code. There are endless learning opportunities, and every time I open up Udacity, I feel that this could help me achieve my, as Mr Shifu says, " Inner Peace'. The larger dream would be to get an opportunity and work with some amazing tech companies in India. The fact that I am already working and trying to break the barrier and change my field still gives me goosebumps, "What if I am not the one?". But yes, with knowledge comes confidence and I believe I am on the right track.

About the author
Ritika Pradhan