Taking the Grow with Google Challenge Course

by SysOps

I realize that I haven’t posted in months! My time away was because of a GREAT OPPORTUNITY afforded me by GOOGLE and Udacity. I was a one of 10,000 lucky world-wide recipients of the Grow with Google Challenge Scholarship. The classes where presented by Udacity and Google employees through Udacity’s online MOOC. The program is a two part process. First, if you are selected, you work 3 months on the Challenge course. Then if you complete the challenge course on time and participate in the class specific Slack channel and the Udacity forums, you may be selected as one of the 1,000 lucky folks who get to move into the Google Sponsored Nano Degree Program. With over 100-thousand applicants world wide, I was honestly surprised I got into the Grow With Google Challenge course. I am hoping I’ll be one of the lucky one percent, of the lucky one percent to move on into the Nano Degree Program.

I was impressed by how up to date the course material was. I was also surprised by how quickly they moved through the material. Currently I am able to devote a large amount of time to this pursuit. So I completed the course in about 7 or 8 weeks. However, I stayed active in the forums, and in the student lead online meetups. Living in Montana their were only two other students I was aware of in my State, and after the first few weeks I no longer saw them in the channels. While many people on either coast where lucky enough to have “in person” meetings at local facilities, those of us in more remote areas where left to Zoom meetings and video chats.

I want to give a shout out to Barry Burd (Author of Java Programming for Dummies), he was one of my class mates and did a wonderful job putting together Zoom meetups with professional Android developers as guest speakers. Also student Spider-man Scott (also a Flutter cohort) was online most days for video chats with anyone he could help. The guest speakers were all great! Madonah a follow student and Over-Achiever with a take charge attitude, (I’m sure will be voted most likely to become a Team Leader in her next professional pursuit) put together a group project with many people taking part. Her mock-ups are beautiful and very professional! After her initiative others too started group projects. While I didn’t take part in her group project. I did watch it’s progress closely. She did a very good job managing her group. I myself had taken on a project for a local non-profit group. I completed that project and posted a few images on the Slack channel.

One of the things that was difficult for me was staying up on all the chatter in the channels. It took a lot of time and effort to view the posts multiple times per day. However, it was very rewarding to help those I could and build a few distant relationships. While I had to work at it, it was well worth the effort. I know many people made posts just to run up their numbers in the channels. Things like “What I’m having for lunch”. That seemed to die off after a few weeks and the announcement that quality of posts would also be considered. That’s good for me as I’m not one to just jump up and post what I’m doing ever ten minutes or interject when I have nothing to add.

One of the things I was most impressed by during the course was the staff! The dedication shown by Udacity and Google staff who gave of themselves and their time, all times of the day and night, was simply amazing to me! I’m sure they at times felt overwhelmed. As students we see all the content and their interaction with us. But I know that is only about ten percent of the effort given to produce the course work and keep things one course. My hat goes off to all the staff and we are all very thankful for their efforts! Thank You All!

I am very proud of my fellow students as well. Some had great challenges balancing their personal lives, work, and class work. They had to make concessions with family and friends to complete the course on-time. Some who either started late or simply made slower progress also should be acknowledge for the valiant efforts they put forth. I hope they continue over the next month and complete the course! Anytime you have a chance to gain knowledge you should!

Since I completed the course early. I found the Google Android Certification web page. It was pointed out to me by someone in one of the Slack channels. I’ve been working through the books and completed the video lectures in preparation for moving on and eventually becoming certified. While it took me a few videos to get used to the lecturer’s Indian accent, by the end I understood them quite well. So I guess that material grew me in other ways as well. I also took other Udacity courses while completing the course work. I worked through a Java class, a JavaScript class, and two Git classes. I also began a couple other classes I have yet to complete. I also used resources at Udemy and completed a class on UX design to help me better design and layout Android screens. I’m an old hand at C/C++ but had managed to avoid Java all these years. I was surprised to see so much use of inner classes and felt like I needed to finally embrace Java. It took me a while to understand why one would use an inner class. But I did a couple of toy projects where I did it both ways and soon I could see how much easier it becomes with inner classes applied in the right places.

In closing, I fell I have been truly privileged to have participated in the Grow with Google Challenge course. I am proud that I was included in the course. I gained invaluable knowledge of Android development and will continue to learn as I gain even more experience. I hope I get included in the next phase of the program! It would be life altering!