AWS Imagine edu conference

Seattle, June 8-11, 2019

AWS IMAGINE: A Better World, A Global Education Conference

I am attending the AWS Imagine education conference in Seattle. This is a conference hosted by AWS for educators who are interested in offering an AWS based Cloud Computing track at their institutions. I am happy that in the keynote by Andrew Ko, the CSU was mentioned as one of the partner university system: at CI we are offering Cloud Computing with AWS tools to our students, and we are also leveraging the resources of AWS for research. The San Luis Obispo (SLO) campus has been working with AWS tools as well (see Cal Poly Launches World’s First University-Based Cloud Innovation Center Powered by Amazon Web Services). I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Lupo, the chair of Comp Sci at SLO; other CSU campuses, such as Northridge, have also worked with AWS.

Education is built on AWS slide

Partnering with AWS: Community Colleges (CC) have already partnered with AWS in some states. At the conference we heard from Sharron Morrissey from the Virginia Community College System, where AWS was introduced comprehensively in the entire system. The Virginia CCs are able to capitalize on the fact that Amazon chose Arlington (Virginia) as the site for its 2nd headquarters, and the preponderance of data-centers in Virginia. We also heard from Monty Sullivan, the president of the Louisiana Community Colleges system, who spoke about “educational institutions are not any more in the business of furnishing diplomas, but rather they are the gateway into the job market”. Finally, we heard from Sheneui Weber who spoke about the CCs in California, and their thriving partnership with AWS: she cited a study showing that there are about unfilled 30,000 jobs in Cloud Computing in LA County and Orange County, and 5,000 of those jobs specifically mention AWS.

Amazon Fiona building

On Monday, at the Amazon Fiona building, I attended an excellent workshop conducted by the AWS Educate team on how to integrate the AWS curriculum in different degrees – my interest was to explore the possibility of introducing AWS into the Computer Science program (or the IT program) at CI. Some of the resources that AWS offers could also be deployed in our Mechatronics Engineering program (such as AWS Robomaker). At the workshop I was interested in the experience of George Mason University that partnered with Nova and AWS. Just last month this partnership announced a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) pathway in cloud computing.

For us at CI, the benefits of such a pathway would be as follows:

  • As we have a hands on practical degree, we are more or less ready; we would have to introduce examples of AWS tools in 3 or 4 courses, such as Networking (COMP 429), Databases (COMP 420) and Cybersecurity (COMP 424), and possibly some DevOps in our Software Engineering class (COMP 350).
  • Once approved by Amazon Educate, students would have then the ability to have educational AWS accounts with some credits, as well as access to the AWS job forum, and vouchers for AWS certification. They would also be more ready for the rapidly expanding Cloud Computing job market.

As a university we have to be technology agnostic to some extent, but since AWS is a platform, on which one can deploy practically any technology, we would not be teaching one tool. Also, we should compare and contrast the AWS offering to other solutions such as Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. In any case, Cloud Computing is becoming the new computing paradigm, and in order to give our students the best degree possible, we need to teach it.

Rich Mendola from Emory on Building a Secure and Manageable Cloud Environment

I was keen to hear a talk on Machine Learning by Balaji Iyer, as we are currently using AWS SageMaker on a Navy Cybersecurity project. I also really enjoyed an excellent talk by Rich Mendola from Emory, on Building a Secure and Manageable Cloud Environment. It was interesting to hear about the AWS Shared Responsibility Model, a very interesting concept from the Cybersecurity point of view: AWS has built and maintains an extremely secure infrastructure, but it is up the the user to wield the tools correctly in order to maintain security.

Finally, I was excited to be for the first time in a city (Seattle) with the 5G cellular network 🙂

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