AWS Public Sector Blog

AWS celebrates 2023 cohort of Education Champions

Cloud computing technology is transforming education, driving new expectations in personalized learning, academic medicine, and research. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been at the forefront with innovative educators, researchers, and medical professionals to modernize classrooms, labs, libraries, and medical centers. To celebrate the leaders and organizations that are propelling the academic landscape forward, AWS announced the 2023 cohort of Education Champions at IMAGINE: Education, State and Local Leaders 2023 Conference.

The AWS Education Champions program was launched in 2022 as a program to celebrate those individuals and organizations making a transformative impact in US Education. This year, the program was expanded internationally. The 2023 AWS Education Champions are pioneers that demonstrate meaningful digital transformation at their education institution to improve student outcomes, build institutional resiliency, accelerate research that can lead to life-changing discoveries, and more – all using the AWS Cloud.

To further their efforts, the AWS Education Champions will receive professional development and thought leadership opportunities, increased visibility in a vast network of peers and other education leaders, and access to travel grants to attend industry events to present their experiences and lessons learned. The following are a few examples of the transformative efforts by AWS Education Champions.

Building institutional resiliency to maintain continuity of learning

Home to nearly 75,000 students across 113 district-owned facilities, Austin Independent School District (AISD) uses a cloud roadmap to help sustain and improve operations in the school district. After migrating to the AWS Cloud, the district’s goal was to reduce costs and move away from maintaining both of its on-site data centers, which weren’t designed for resiliency. The cloud transition provided essential resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the district relied on Amazon AppStream 2.0 remote access to support teachers and students during remote learning. The importance of resiliency was demonstrated again in early 2021, when a crippling winter storm led to power outages throughout the region. In response, the district turned to virtual machines hosted in the AWS Cloud to support business continuity until local services were restored.

Creating seamless access to cloud services across campus

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign leverages the AWS Cloud through its Tech Services hub where IT leaders, researchers, and other facility staff take advantage of the cloud to deploy IT assets quickly, scale their use as needed, optimize costs, and deploy advanced tools more simply than they could have if they were using on-premises technology.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library leveraged this centralized approach to migrate its digital preservation repository to the AWS Cloud. Led by AWS Education Champion Tracy Tolliver, the Library’s director of information technology, the project included moving the repository and associated applications off a cluster of virtual servers on campus, where they consumed about 156 TB of storage. Tolliver noted this project achieved its main goal to get rid of hardware and reduce the time the team spent on maintenance, freeing them to work more with their stakeholders on enhancing applications.

Using data to drive personalized learning experiences

The University of California Irvine (UCI) is combining millions of data points collected from thousands of streams across campus and uses that data combined with their organizational capabilities and interdisciplinary collaboration to chart personalized paths for students through the Compass initiative. Using AWS machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, Compass (Comprehensive Analytics for Student Success) empowers faculty, staff, and students. AWS Education Champion Patty Morales, vice provost for enrollment management, was instrumental in making sure that the data students provide as part of their application process was incorporated into the analyses to provide a more holistic view of UCI’s student body. This data helps the university make decisions about university support services and policies to make sure that UCI continues to be a minority-thriving institution.

Introducing the 2023 cohort of AWS Education Champions

The 2023 AWS Education Champions are using cloud technology to drive innovation in new and exciting ways. Congratulations to this year’s honorees:

Higher education

Bjorn Toft Madsen, EF Education First

Janet Reid, MD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Circe Tsui, Emory University

Mike Gosz, Illinois Institute of Technology

Jon Dunn, Indiana University

Matthew Rich, Northwestern University

Patricia Morales, University of California Irvine

Tracy Tolliver, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Jim Kenyon, University of Michigan

Dr. Mable Moore, Xavier University of Louisiana


Austin Independent School District

Los Angeles Unified School District

Florence School District 1 (South Carolina)

Texas Computer Cooperative (TCC)

Learn more about how AWS Education Champions are transforming education institutions. For more about how AWS supports customers in education, visit the AWS Cloud Computing for Education hub.