How deep learning and drones can save the world from asteroids?

Sravanthi Sinha Holberton Recode
Sravanthi Sinha, from Holberton first batch, recently spoke at Recode Deep Learning summit in Singapore. She worked on improving the planetary defense using new ways to track meteorites, bad news: in only 3% of cases have meteorites been recovered. Good new: deep learning and drones can help. 

Tell us about your work at SETI in the NASA internship.

I am working as a data scientist on a “breakthrough” project idea — developing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to aid in finding meteorites in the field. Currently, meteorites discovered on earth are identified visually through a labor-intensive manual search in the field. And these meteorites tend to be big. Smaller meteorite falls, which are more frequent, are hard to recover. As a result, the number of recovered meteorites on known approach orbits is small. My project is aimed at developing a small UAV — such as a commercially available quadcopter — equipped with cameras and onboard processors that can identify potential meteorite targets in the search areas calculated from triangulated meteor observations. This will make it possible to discover meteorites even from smaller falls. We’ll apply machine learning techniques to sample images in the lab and then the resulting search algorithms will be transferred to small processors on board the UAV. The machine learning will be developed using NVIDIA computing hardware – which will remain in the lab under NASA and SETI Institute control. We expect that the UAV, cameras, and onboard computing processing hardware will all be commercially available items.

 

What does it feel like to be selected for such a competitive internship?

It means everything and I am on cloud nine. I made many sacrifices to come this far and at the end of the day, it gives meaning to my life. It has always been my dream to work at NASA. This internship helped me fulfill that dream it and it’s just the beginning.

 

What is your background?

I grew up in India and I earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad. Next, I was a student intern at the National Resource for Network Biology (NRNB) in 2012. I completed the Google Summer of Code in 2013 and 2014, first as a student and then as a mentor. I published WikiPathways: capturing the full diversity of pathway knowledge (2015) in Oxford Journals.

 

Why did you choose Holberton School for more studies?

I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics but I didn’t have a chance to take a lot of hardcore computer science and programming courses. The curriculum mostly revolved around electronics and embedded engineering with limited software engineering coursework. Holberton School has an amazing vision of fixing the education system. Their coursework, with plenty of hands-on projects, was just what I wanted to transform myself into a full stack software developer. The curriculum is not limited to one language or one web stack. Every week we cover algorithm, low-level programming, front-end, back-end, sysadmin and devops. On top of those tech tracks, we also train on soft skills like networking, public speaking and writing which gives us more confidence and also a huge advantage vs tech-only developers. I am hooked on the program!

 

How is Holberton different in how it teaches compared to your previous education in schools?

At university in India, I attended classes all day, took notes and prepared for exams. But in the real world, a pragmatic experience is what always counts. At university, scoring a higher GPA was the only goal. There were some hands-on labs but mostly it was theoretical. Holberton School’s curriculum gives you challenging projects that teach you how to fix problems and build software.There are no teachers at Holberton School and the program teaches you how to learn instead of focusing on one specific technology. That makes a huge difference in how we address the projects and how we learn from it. The projects are not the conclusion of a class, but it is the source of knowledge. And at the end of the program, not only have you covered a lot of different technologies, but most importantly, because of the way we learn there, we are ready to take on any new challenges. That turns you from a rookie into a pro.

(Slides of the talk available here)

Visit Holberton in San Francisco

Holberton is both exciting and challenging. Students spend the first 9 months of the 2-year program in our office in San Francisco, the heart of the Silicon Valley.

Becoming a great Full-Stack Software Engineer is a lot of work, and students spend hours at the school working on their projects and collaborating with peers. We work hard to make the school comfortable and imitate the collaborative setup that tech companies have in the Valley. Our local community including students, mentors, and guests who attended our meetups. They all loved the school design and we thought we would share also share it with you, our online community!

Are you living close to the Holberton and you are curious to see what is Holberton like IRL? We are organizing tours, get in touch with us to schedule a time: http://bit.ly/holberton-tour

Holberton is NOT a coding bootcamp

by Kristine Bredemeier
by Kristine Bredemeier

Last week Bloomberg’s, Sarah McBride, posted a great article on the perils of coding bootcamps. We have, and will continue to say, that many coding bootcamps serve their purpose for different reasons. Maybe you:

Then a coding bootcamp might just be right for you. However, just like colleges, not all bootcamps are the same, so if you are looking into a bootcamp, be sure to do your research.

And while this article is very helpful for anyone considering attending a 12-14 week program, it may have confused some about the nature of The Holberton School in its reference towards us. Holberton IS NOT a coding bootcamp, but rather a software engineering university. We are training highly-skilled software engineers from scratch over a course of two years, the type of engineers who are working at prestigious companies like Dropbox, Docker, Apple or NASA.

The Holberton School prides itself on being an alternative to college and the traditional university style setting. We offer a two-year course that is very different from colleges and coding bootcamps:

  • Everything is learned by working on projects that are becoming increasingly complicated to reach industry level – the curriculum is full-stack, meaning that students master the basics that any software engineer must know, not just a few hyped tools.
  • We cover the fundamentals of Computer Science including data structures and algorithm which are a mandatory piece of knowledge that any great software engineer has. Students are becoming software engineers, but most important, they are learning how to learn, giving them growth potential that will follow them throughout their career. Even after graduation, Holberton School students will continue to acquire new skills without needing to go back to school to learn something.

Speaking of alternative style, we also offer an alternative style tuition method. Unlike colleges and coding bootcamps, Holberton School students are not expected to pay tuition until they have graduated and found a stable job. Then, over the next three years after they land their job, we only ask for a percentage of their salary. It’s win-win for our graduates. They get to learn more than they would in a traditional style setting and they graduate debt free!

So again, while bootcamps are great for teaching the basics of a programming language or framework, Holberton School is training the next generation of software engineers.

Hiring Spree at Holberton School

We don’t want to brag or anything…scratch that…we really DO want to brag. In just the first nine months of study in our two-year program, most of our students in our inaugural class have already been offered jobs (or in one case, got funding to start his own company)! And, yes, they still have 16 months to go to graduate.
Holberton School Winter 2016 batch
Holberton School Winter 2016 batch
We could not be more proud of the success of our students and knowing that we have clearly done something right by them in offering the project-based curriculum that we have created. But we have to be clear, it is the students who really have done all the work, from the start, we have just set up the right environment and challenges for them.

 

To get started at Holberton, each student had to prove they not only could be part of the team, but that they wanted to. To become students at Holberton, candidates go through a four-step selection process, based solely on talent and motivation, and not on the basis of educational degree, or programming experience. The selection process actually begins the curriculum so that applicants start learning — and collaborating — through it. The process, which does not require technical knowledge or programming experience, consists of three levels:
  • Level 1 – Small online projects and tests that applicants can complete at their own pace
  • Level 2 – A step-by-step challenge during which applicants create a website. At this level, the candidates are encouraged to begin collaborating, an important component of learning at the school.
  • Level 3 – On-site or Skype interview
Once at the school we give the students progressively more difficult challenges– like waking them up at 2am to fix their servers! Teaching them to learn, not just to spew back facts they memorized. One student even had a summer internship at NASA SETI. This success further goes to show that students from any background, from high school to a cashier at Trader Joe’s or from teacher to customer support representative, all have the same opportunity to create the success that they crave by applying themselves in this self-learning method.

 

So, where have our students been hired?
Our students have been hired by promising startups but also some of the biggest names in technology, while some others have started their own companies and have even raised the starting capital! Many of our students will be moving on as high paid, Software Engineers at companies including Docker, Apple and Dropbox. And if that wasn’t amazing enough, one of our students has been hired at HealthTech, a startup company that had interviewed 100 other candidates before deciding on our student!

 

Get in on the action!
For those out there who are aspiring to be like these students, the registration for our January class is now open for enrollment. Also, check out the video below to learn more about our student backgrounds, we accept students from all walks of life.

Gandi’s San Francisco Office Is Now Home to Holberton School

Holberton School and Gandi will have the opportunity to work side-by-side on training the next generation of Highly skilled Software Engineers.
Holberton School and Gandi will have the opportunity to work side-by-side on training the next generation of Highly skilled Software Engineers.

We are proud to announce a partnership with the leading domain registrar and hosting company Gandi, joining us in the mission to train the next generation of full-stack software engineers.

Holberton School has expanded into Gandi US offices, where it will use the 12 spots to welcome more wannabe full stack software engineers. Gandi has already been supporting us by donating server access, domain names and coaching with multiple DNS keynotes given by Gandi CTO Pascal Bouchareine.

The office is conveniently located 5 minutes away from Holberton School HQ, on the same block as the new San Francisco Transbay Transit Center in the middle of SoMa, surrounded by startup and Tech companies like LinkedIn, Algolia, Twitter and Uber.

Holberton School’s mission is to train anyone to become a Software Engineer using a project based approach: no formal lectures, everything learned by practicing. We heavily collaborate with companies via our network of mentors that Gandi CEO Stephan Ramoin is also part of. Students will now have the chance to be trained along to the talented Gandi team.

Scality S3 Server hackathon at Holberton School

Do you like Javascript? Are you interested in S3-compatible AWS apps? Join us for this hackathon that will take place on October 21–23 at Holberton School!

Attendees will write applications using S3 Server and the Seagate Kinetic rack (disk over IP).

Attendees will have have access to:

  • One or more Kinetic enclosures from Seagate
  • Open source components, including S3Server and kineticlib and eclib in node.js from Scality

Kinetic Seagate rack

Teams of up to 3 people will be judged at the end of the competition on 4 criteria:

  • Execution
  • Performance of the backend (latency, throughput)
  • Design quality
  • Creativity (placement algorithms, rebuild algorithms, etc.)

Competitors will be supervised by Scality engineers specialized in S3Server and other node.js components and Seagate engineers specialized in Kinetic SW and setup.

The judges will be:

The hackathon is free of charge, food and drinks will be provided by Scality and Seagate. Join us!

Understanding the value of Uptime

laptop command line dark siren

Companies creating web applications spend most of their time and energy on building the product: identifying the needs, building storyboards, designing, developing, testing, marketing and pushing to production. Then the Operations team becomes responsible for the work the whole company puts together.

That’s obviously a very important and critical responsibility, Operations teams have to juggle between stability, by making sure that the product is always available, and agility, to support product evolution (described in the concept of Bimodal IT designed by Gartner). Yet no schools are training students for these responsibilities and it is very challenging for the industry to find skilled professionals.

That’s why Holberton School has a system administration and DevOps track, training students to deploy, monitor, scale and be responsible for the uptime of the product that they built. Incident management becomes a mandatory tool. And that’s why we decided to partner with PagerDuty —  to give students access to the best tool to support their uptime.

Students who are using PagerDuty have fast incident escalation, which helps them to have faster incident resolution. For every minute that their website is down, they lose points, which translate very well to the real world points, which are dollars. Holberton School is a full-stack school, students work on all aspects of a web product: designing, coding, testing, shipping, maintaining. Whether they end up working as a full-stack software engineer or in a more specialized role, they will understand the implication at every level of the stack and will make sure that:

  • it fits well with the others parts
  • It will be easy to handle for co-workers

A great incident management tool allows engineers to engage not only the Operations team but other teams, in maintaining the product uptime and performance. This by allowing flexible schedules and escalations policies. On-call developers should have better insight on application-related issues, act faster, which reduces the time to resolution and helps to build a culture of trust and transparency. For junior staff it allows them to quickly gain knowledge by exposing them to every level of the escalation path, at first by shadowing more experienced staff and by then putting them in first line where they can quickly escalate if they are uncomfortable with the issue.

“Uptime is the number one goal of any SRE/DevOps/System administrator team,” said Casey Brown, manager, Site Reliability Engineering at LinkedIn. “Nowadays, well established companies like LinkedIn, Facebook and Google are also expecting developers to be fully responsible for their code in production. Having production in mind and being ready for it is something that every good developer must have, yet no school prepares students to that.”

By following the sysadmin/DevOps track at Holberton School and using PagerDuty, students will be able to deliver on agility, performance, and uptime during their time at the school and career.

 

First international botathon organized by VentureBeat

VentureBeat Botathon San Francisco

The first international Botathon organized by VentureBeat, San Francisco edition, took place at Holberton School. The school is training full-stack software engineers with an innovative approach: no formal teachers, no lectures, students learn by working on projects and happened to be learning about deep learning and neural networks which recently rapidly evolved  — offering great opportunities to build the bots of tomorrow.

The goal of the Botathon was to build bot prototypes taking advantage of these recent improvements and to explore market possibilities. It is interesting to notice that most bots used Slack or Facebook as communication channels, reducing user friction and acquisition but also leading to harder monetization strategy. Bots makes users life easier: tracking food intake (Amino), finding the dream home (Real Estate Assistant), booking your next restaurant or doctor appointment (Host Buddy)… The oddest (in my opinion) (Stop,dating bot) was offering to let a bot handle a breakup with a lover over text message.

Two bots were dedicated to the Tech industry: (Oxy) which allows developers to interact with their servers via a bot and (Ibo) a recruiting platform that would take care of chatting with the candidate, scan the resume and adapt the set of questions depending on candidate’s skills and how the candidate performs on give exercices.

The event was judged by

The winning team, composed of Omar Sharif and Mike Chang built a waiter replacement: Botender. Contrary to other hacks, the bots was using SMS to taking customer’s food orders, menu questions, payment and even bill split(Stripe integration). Customers can quickly get their food and leave as soon as they want via a few text messages. For restaurants, they can reduce staffing and improve customer satisfaction with quicker and better service (the staff can focus on service and hospitality). And because Botender is over text message, it reduces the friction – no need to install any app.

 

The hacks quality was very high and all bots actually worked. While we are at the beginning of the era and some bots might actually not be as efficient as our good old web forms, we are definitely creating interesting cases. The web industry is entering a new era where a big chunk of websites will be replaced by AI, it’s time for developers to start getting skilled!

Video of the event here:

TechCrunch Senior Software Engineer taking over our Snapchat account

Nicolas Vincent Senior Software Engineer at TechCrunch is taking over Holberton School Snapchat account.

Nicolas has been a Senior Software Engineer at TechCrunch since October 2012. As part of the dev team, he was one of the core developers for TechCrunch’s redesign in 2013. He is also a mentor at Holberton School. Prior to this, Nicolas was working as a Web Operation Engineer for the famous hospitality exchange website CouchSurfing.

Nicolas Vincent

Born in San Francisco, but raised and educated in France, Nicolas graduated from EPITECH with a Master’s Degree in Computer Science. During his 4th year at Epitech in 2010, he attended California State University, Long Beach, and UC Berkeley for a yearlong exchange program.

He will share what it is like to work for the most notorious Tech blog in the Silicon Valley, snap him if you have any question!

Before Holberton School, I was…

Holberton School is open to anyone, regardless of your professional or academic past. No programming experience is required. Our selection process is based only on talent and motivation, with no consideration given to gender, nationality, ethnicity or social status. Listen to our students’ stories and what they were doing before Holberton School…

Zee Adams

I was studying a Master’s of engineering in Technology Innovation Management at Carleton University. I decided to pursue this degree because I wanted to create my own Tech startup. I had a great product idea, entered an incubator and I had plenty of meetings with interested investors. The biggest question that kept coming up was: “who will build the product? Who is your technical co-founder?”. So I decided to start learning on my own but it was too difficult, there are  many resources online, but there is no structure and I did not know where to begin. The guidance that Holberton School provided through its project based curriculum and the exchange with mentors are teaching me the skills that I need to build a strong product for my startup.

Follow Zee on twitter  – Connect with Zee on linkedin

 

Siphan Bou

I used to work in a marketing consultancy firm, working closely with customers and the development team to iterate on the marketing analytics solution we were selling. The more time I was spending with the development team, the more I understood that their job was more interesting than mine. So I started to learn front-end development, for fun. I had not considered a career in the field at all. I had a strong preconceived idea that one should know everything about computers to be a Software Engineer. One day, I found out about Holberton School and started the application process, again for fun. When level2 started and we had to build a website, I became addicted. I felt that the experience was so self-developing for me… That’s how I discovered that this would be my next thing, something that I wanted to spend most of my time doing.

Follow Siphan on twitter – Connect with Siphan on linkedin

 

Ian Wagener

I was in High School and also working as a delivery driver on the side, I realized my passion for computers in senior year of High School (even though we had no computer class). I knew for a while that I was attracted to software but I was not aiming to enter the industry. My dad and step-dad are both in the field and that helped me to get interested more about it. My dad realized how valuable Holberton School would be and told me that if I wanted to give a shot to computer science, this would probably be the best option. So I started the application process and I instantly realized that I loved it and wanted to start a career in the Tech industry.

Follow Ian on twitter – Connect with Ian on linkedin

 

Steven Garcia

I had a strong interest in technology for a while, I started as a mechanical engineer major but soon realized that I was very interested in what was behind the scene, the “brain of the machine”, which is actually software. That’s why I decided to switch to computer science major, but it had more requirements, mathematics and physics classes, most of my time was dedicated to things that were not about what I wanted to do: writing code. I actually took 2 programming classes, the first one was about C++ and we never used a computer; we were writing code on a piece of paper. It was really boring as I never executed the code, I never understood what we were actually doing. The second class was a Java class, we were using a computer, but building useless and meaningless software, I did not see the point. Then I heard about Holberton School and then I got in!

Follow Steven on twitter – Connect with Steven on linkedin

 

Kristine Bredemeier

I graduated from a small liberal arts school where I studied community art and got a certificate in urban studies. I wanted to use art to change the city. I started to work for Apple in Chicago as a Sales Representative and quickly transitioned to Visual Merchandising. I also worked as a nanny one day a week for a family with five girls, which only left me with one day off per week. Then I saw my dad starting to teach programming at the high school level and enjoying it a lot. We were often discussing his experiences and I also had a lot of friends in web development who happened to also be artists, and they were encouraging me to try coding, so I went for it. Then I discovered Holberton School and the application process was so fun, interesting and nicely formated that I decided to take a chance and apply.

Follow Kris on twitter – Connect with Kris on linkedin

Want to be part of the community and become a Full-Stack Software Engineer? Apply now!

PS: Thank you Laurane Graulier for making this video!