Tuesday, 18 December 2018 16:10

AWS helps unis move to cloud and teach cloud skills

AWS APJ regional head of education and research Vincent Quah AWS APJ regional head of education and research Vincent Quah

Educational institutions follow a range of paths when it comes to using AWS, but they usually start with something simple such as their websites or dev/test environments, and then deploy enterprise applications (eg, SAP, PeopleSoft or student management systems) before developing cloud native apps, AWS APJ regional head of education and research Vincent Quah told iTWire.

Monash University is in the process of shutting down data centres, he said. (It has been reported elsewhere that Monash shut down one data centre following an aggressive four-month process, and that it uses Google as well as AWS.)

"They're still on that journey," said Quah.

In the US, the University of Notre Dame has spent three years migrating almost all of its workloads to AWS, he said. Any applications that couldn't be moved were replaced with new, cloud-native applications.

On the other side of the coin, local universities are working to help fill the shortage of cloud skills: the ACS estimates around 200,000 more IT professionals with such skills are required.

The AWS Educate program aims to help fill this gap, and to assist graduates and IT professionals who are finding it hard to get work with the acquisition of cloud skills that are in demand, said Quah.

The material — which is being used by La Trobe University as part of a cloud major — is all online and self service, he said, and incorporates content from some of the world's top ten computer science courses.

The La Trobe course provides three exit points, he observed. Students successfully completing year one receive a diploma, getting through the second year earns an associate degree, and passing third year is rewarded with a degree. In addition, completion of AWS Educate modules earns "microcredentials", he said.

Furthermore, RMIT is using Amazon Sumerian — AWS's VR/AR platform — to develop three short courses to help IT professionals acquire cloud skills.

The full AWS Educate program — which provides structured pathways aimed at various occupations such as data scientist or cloud architect, as well as a "job bot" to help match students with relevant job openings (including internships and contract positions) — is currently US-centric, but AWS is looking to implement it in Australia more broadly than the use of the materials by RMIT and La Trobe, said Quah.

"We're trying to build a content framework that can be easily adopted."

The materials are not always used as a formal part of the curriculum. In some cases they form part of electives that can be offered without requiring formal approval, and so can be more easily kept current. They are also used in short courses and workshops offered by participating institutions.

In addition, AWS is looking to work with the TAFE sector but is not discussing any specific projects at this time, he said

Outside the formal education system, Quah pointed to Bega, where the shire council and other bodies are encouraging people to improve their cloud skills with a view to creating 1000 new jobs. AWS has been involved in the project, for example by running workshops on how to implement Alexa skills. Earlier this year, a competition that set secondary students the task of writing an agricultural-themed skill was won by a team that created a skill to specify the exact doses of medication required by individual calves.

The writer attended AWS re:Invent as a guest of the company.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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