- George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) are teaming up with Amazon Web Service's (AWS) global education initiative on a bachelor's degree in cloud computing, the company announced Tuesday.
- The transfer pathway, available in the fall of 2020, builds on NOVA's associate degree in cloud computing launched with AWS Educate last fall. It will run through an existing transfer program between the two Virginia institutions.
- The institutions join a growing group of colleges and universities to offer cloud computing curriculum in partnership with Amazon.
George Mason will call the program a "bachelor's of applied science in cloud computing," Michelle Marks, the university's vice president for academic innovation and new ventures, told Education Dive.
Students will get access to the AWS platform and some related tools, which will be used to teach concepts applicable to other cloud platforms.
Starting at NOVA, learners will take "several" foundational information technology courses needed to study cloud computing, Chad Knights, NOVA's provost of information and engineering technologies, told Education Dive in an email. Among them is a course in cloud infrastructure that prepares students to earn the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner credential.
So far, NOVA has 112 students enrolled in the cloud specialization, which was developed with AWS for its Information Systems Technology associate degree.
AWS provided information on the knowledge and skills required for its most in-demand jobs as well as curriculum review, instructional design support, professional development and free access to AWS, an Amazon spokesperson told Education Dive in an interview. The spokesperson noted that community colleges have been "first movers" in uptake of its cloud curriculum.
Marks said George Mason started working with NOVA and AWS "immediately" after the company announced Northern Virginia as the site of its second headquarters. However, she added, knowledge of the cloud is in demand by employers in the region beyond the e-commerce titan.
"Employers are telling us they need more tech talent, they need more cloud talent," Marks said.
Northern Virginia is part of the Washington, D.C., metro area, which in addition to being the seat of the federal government is also proving to be a popular location for advanced technology companies and data centers.
Other employers are similarly looking to tap the region's colleges and universities for tech talent. Around a dozen businesses, including AWS, and as many institutions have teamed up to create tech credentials that give the students who earn them priority for internships and job interviews with member firms. Similar collaborations are happening across the U.S.
Amazon, meanwhile, is taking a similar path as other technology companies and working directly with colleges and universities to develop the kinds of skills needed to operate its platform. The curriculum for the bachelor's pathway builds on the program developed with NOVA last year. And NOVA's program was a continuation of a cloud certificate created with a set of community colleges in Los Angeles.
"All that curriculum is shareable," said the Amazon spokesperson, who noted that more than 50 institutions have partnered with AWS Educate to offer some form of degree, certificate or specialization in cloud computing. "We partner with them (colleges) to localize it, we partner with them to create extensions and modular curricula that may be important for that localized community."