Washington, D.C. (June 17, 2019) - The annual Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) Public Sector Summit was held in Washington, DC from June 11th to June 12th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center bringing together users from government, education, and non-profit organizations. Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA’s) innovative Cloud Computing degree program, which was announced during last year’s AWS public sector summit, was the first two-year Cloud-focused degree in the nation. After its launch this past fall the program has quickly grown from 30 to 112 students and through a continuing collaboration with AWS Educate has served as a model for the development of cloud computing programs across the nation. To highlight the value and the skills obtained from this program, NOVA’s excellence was on display as two NOVA students were invited to speak at the AWS Public Sector Summit.
Sebastian Ignacio Valenzuela and Colin Arnett served as panelists on ‘The Future of Education: Skills, Curriculum and Student Inspiration’ panel. The students provided remarks before 100 attendees about their insights on furthering cloud education and advancements in career development. Other members of the panel included students from Georgetown University, Bowie State University and George Mason University.
Sebastian, who has two bachelor’s and a master’s degree sought to further his cybersecurity skills by studying cloud optimization at NOVA. While on the panel, he offered his thoughts on where he saw his career going. He said, "Overall, security is focused on detection and prevention. I find that services like the one at AWS are improving the ability to analyze big data at a fast rate, moving in real time – and respond using real time through autonomous systems like a server-less computer."
Having a prior background in music composition, he said, “Not all those want to enter the cloud need to start in tech”. He saw this as a way to position himself for the future of changing employment trends.
Colin, who participates in a variety of community Hackathons, and a NOVA student, spoke about the future of artificial intelligence and how data can be shared through open-source software on the cloud. He said, "Now more than ever, young people have incredible access to tons of information all over the world -- even some places where you don’t expect information to be – like ‘Reddit’ or ‘Discord.’ I know a lot of people my age that use those services for gaming and social media, as there are a lot niche communities that utilize these tools."
Going further, he talked about how his interest in data science and technology were inspired by his reading of science fiction, especially works by the author Isaac Asimov. He stated that this was due to his interest in the natural language process. He further stated that, "If you can get a robot to learn tech, you’re getting closer to that robot learning the language. Just a nudge for the world closer to general AI. That’s where I want to help."
A NOVA staff member was also recognized as a panelist at the summit. Trung Ngo, the Apprenticeship Manager in Workforce Development talked about the challenges and opportunities in getting educators at NOVA through the instructor accreditation in order to deliver the AWS Academy Cloud Foundations and Cloud Architecting curriculum offered through AWS Academy Program.
The AWS Academy works to bridge the gap between industry and academia with cloud technologies by equipping education institutions with tools to deliver a curated curriculum aimed at preparing students for employment in cloud roles. The program is offered in 36 countries and has many benefits for both students and educators. Through the program, educators can earn their accreditation in teaching cloud based-services and architecture at no cost. This is a complimentary professional learning and support system to achieve AWS certification before teaching AWS Academy courses.
Trung Ngo presented findings on how “NOVA’s student engagement and employer engagement seem to be ahead of the game.” She further expressed feedback to Amazon on how instructors at NOVA were navigating the process, and whether Amazon portals for instructors could allow for back-up administers to assist with the workload.
NOVA’s Workforce team and Information and Engineering Technologies (IET) academic division work closely together to make sure they are responsive to the needs of technology employers in the community. Through the collaborative work completed by NOVA Workforce and IET in building highly relevant, cutting edge programs in cloud computing, NOVA has developed strong partnerships with both AWS Academy and AWS Educate. AWS Educate provides cloud resources and flexible and convenience access to develop skills on the AWS console while AWS Academy provides clear training opportunities to earn AWS industry certifications. The interoperability between these two AWS units is a perfect complement of resources that NOVA has integrated into its apprenticeship and cloud programs.
Through real-time job market analytics and business partnerships, NOVA creates a sharp image of the regional economy and the status of talent pipelines, to better align curriculum and develop pathways into in-demand careers. With 112,000 IT jobs projected for the region over the course of the next decade, the partnership with AWS and NOVA will fit the needs of the market in the Virginia area as students and faculty continuously enroll in the program.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.