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Northern Virginia Community College and The United States Marine Corps Partner, in Collaboration with Amazon Web Services, to Develop a New Course of Study

The New Program Will Focus on Data Analytics, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

Andrew Ko, Global Managing Director, AWS Education
Andrew Ko, Global Managing Director, AWS Education

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) have partnered, in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), to develop a new course of study in Data Intelligence focused on cloud computing, data analytics, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). This innovative set of courses, which is planning to be offered starting this fall, was developed with the help of AWS Educate, the global initiative of AWS to support cloud computing learning and career development for educators and students.

Historically, Marine Corps’ training was completed aboard USMC or other services’ installations where the military developed, managed, and taught the curriculum. This is a transformational approach of the current project that provides a non-traditional training solution; Marines will enroll in NOVA’s courses to complete a significant portion of the knowledge, skills, and abilities as defined in their military occupational specialty (MOS; Intelligence Data Engineer). The remaining military-specific components of the MOS will be covered in a ‘finishing course’ offered by the USMC.

The 31 course credits completed by Marines at NOVA will include the first ML and AI-focused courses developed within the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). These new courses, combined with existing information technology coursework, will not only satisfy the USMC’s MOS training requirements but place Marines well on their way to earning NOVA’s Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Information Systems Technology (IST). As an added opportunity, Marines completing this course of study will also be well positioned to earn NOVA’s Cloud Computing specialization of the IST, AAS degree which was also developed in consultation with the AWS Educate team.

Dr. Chad Knights, NOVA’s Provost for Information and Engineering Technology stated "The U.S. Marine Corps have been fantastic partners with whom we originally founded the ‘MOS to Degree’ program that took technical Marine training mapped to NOVA’s curriculum to provide Marines college-credit. We are very excited to be taking the next step in our partnership with this groundbreaking initiative where Marines will directly enroll into NOVA to satisfy their MOS training requirements. We have worked side-by-side with the USMC, while utilizing the AWS console and having access to AWS Educate resources, to design AI and ML coursework to meet the needs of both the USMC and our industry community. Even more exciting is that we see this as a first step to what could be many additional cutting-edge programs of study to support our U.S. Armed Forces.”

The Marine Corps finds a tremendous appeal to this modernized approach that aligns military training with the education, training, and skills sought by industry counterparts.

"The Marine Corps Intelligence Schools' partnership with Northern Virginia Community College represents an exciting new approach to training Marines in highly technical skills. The design of the Data Engineer syllabus, the content of the instruction and qualifications of the professors, the integration of AWS Educate into the curriculum, the support services, and the facilities at the NOVA campus are all absolutely first-rate and the Intel Data Engineer course is going to provide the Marines who participate the technical breadth and depth they need to contribute to the defense of our nation in an increasingly data-centric world. Additionally, this expertise is going to be built using a foundation of NOVA's accredited academic courses which means the Marines will be able to continue their education at NOVA or any other college or university, sustaining what they've learned as the field evolves and enhancing their skills as they progress to positions of increasing responsibility. I think the Intel Data Engineer course's blend of academic instruction, commercial courses and internships, and traditional military training represents the future of Marine Corps intelligence training," said Colonel Randy Pugh.

In partnership with NOVA, the USMC is exploring opportunities to scale this methodology across other IT/Cyber occupational fields and to integrate this approach as an institutionalized component of USMC’s workforce development.

“By creating this cutting-edge curriculum, including pathways into artificial intelligence and machine learning, and leveraging AWS Educate's hands-on environment for real-world practice, these institutions are preparing their students for a future in cloud computing," said Ken Eisner, Director, Worldwide Education Programs, AWS. "We applaud Northern Virginia Community College and the United States Marine Corps for not only bringing the power of the cloud to Marines, but also for extending data intelligence education to the rest of NOVA's student body."

This set of innovative courses leading to a certificate of completion is anticipated to launch in Fall 2019; Marines will attend classes in a cohort structure. However, these classes will also be open to all NOVA students interested in these cutting-edge technology topics as an educational opportunity to learn alongside their military peers. As part of NOVA’s course of study, Marines will enroll in AWS Educate and complete NOVA’s first cloud computing course that will prepare them for the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Certification. Additionally, NOVA’s advanced coursework in ML and AI will utilize AWS Educate’s Machine Learning Pathway that includes access to Amazon SageMaker where Marines and traditional students alike will apply their knowledge to build, train and deploy ML models.

For additional information on NOVA's Data Intelligence course of study or the new IST Cloud Computing specialization degree program, contact Paula Ford, Interim Dean for Information and Engineering Technologies, at paula.ford@nvcc.edu.

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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.

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