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College, AWS developing cloud computing degree

Campus News | Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Columbus State Community College will be developing a new two-year degree in cloud computing in collaboration with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and AWS Educate, a global initiative from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to support cloud learning for educators and students. Columbus State has been awarded a $588,678 National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education grant to create this innovative curricular offering.

Through the collaboration, Columbus State is among the first community colleges in the U.S. to develop an associate degree program with AWS Educate. The curriculum, which will be sharable globally, will serve as a model for other institutions in the U.S. and around the world.

The “Reach for the Cloud: Building an Industry-Aligned Pathway to Careers in Cloud Computing” project is designed to create an Associate of Applied Science in Software Development that prepares graduates for high-paying jobs in the tech sector or transfer to one of Columbus State’s four-year university partners. The program is mapped to the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner and AWS Certified Associate Developer exams, as well as other stackable industry-recognized credentials. Cloud computing has been highlighted by LinkedIn as the #1 in-demand skill for the past four years in a row, with AWS Certified-individuals the highest average salary from among certified individuals[1], and this effort is designed to prepare students and individuals in the workplace for these high-demand skillsets.

The first cohort of associate degree students will launch at Columbus State in Autumn 2020. In the meantime, faculty – with the support of AWS Educate – will work to embed cloud computing concepts and skills into existing coursework. This will include an updated Software Development Certificate, which will be available to students beginning Autumn 2019.

“Industry-recognized certificates are a leading pathway to IT career success, and their incorporation into a formal cloud degree program is very exciting,” said Columbus State President David Harrison. “We help make these credentials more obtainable by integrating the knowledge needed into a robust academic program that provides educational context for students, including those as young as high schoolers who are earning college credit.”

“We are excited to collaborate with Columbus State, as they build pathways to careers in cloud computing for students in Central Ohio and around the globe,” said Ken Eisner, Global Lead for AWS Educate, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “Cloud computing has created a massive job opportunity, and Columbus State is playing an important role in driving workforce opportunities and powering innovation in the Ohio community. We deeply value this collaboration with Columbus State and the potential for this degree offering to help diversify the tech talent pipeline and power the cloud workforce of tomorrow.”

This new, grant-driven offering is specifically designed to attract high school students interested in the cloud computing field; veterans, many of whom may already have military experience with technology; and under-employed workers who want or need to obtain higher-level skills. The program will include development, led by NOVA, of a cloud literacy curriculum for high school students pursuing dual high school-college credit coursework to build awareness of the breadth of technology career opportunities and provide access to cloud coursework early on in students’ academic experience, as well as a veteran outreach plan to attract active and former members of the military collaboratively led by both colleges.

In addition to degree collaboration with AWS Educate, Columbus State is the region’s provider of AWS Academy, a non-credit professional development program aligned with the AWS Cloud Practitioner and AWS Solutions Architect Certifications. Columbus State also partners with Amazon as a Career Choice education service provider to local fulfillment center employees, both onsite and through voucher-supported enrollment.

More information about Columbus State’s current AWS offerings can be found at

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