STEAM-empowered: AWS launches new skills and education programs to inspire cloud-curious students and empower girls, women across Virginia and beyond
From generative artificial intelligence (AI) to the metaverse, tech innovation continues to capture the popular imagination. Although tech’s “next big thing” seems to change moment to moment, two things remain constant: the increasing demand for cloud computing, and the need to inspire and educate the next generation of tech-savvy students to evolve and support it.
Today, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is announcing the launch of a new program, and the expansion of a second, to increase access to science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) educational programs and resources across Virginia and beyond. These are the most recent AWS community impact efforts that aim to increase access to tech tools and training while reducing barriers to students who are underrepresented and underserved.
New program introducing students to the power of the cloud
AWS is launching AWS CloudRoom, a new global program created to help students ages 9-14 gain a deeper understanding of the cloud and the things it makes possible. This coming school year, AWS will roll out the program in Virginia at schools across the state, as well as across the US and globally. Participants have access to a full curriculum of activities and workshops that can be tailored. Sessions begin with a video to learn about cloud-related technologies on topics such as sustainability, AI, machine learning, and biodiversity. Participants then engage in a practical activity that ties together cloud concepts with hands-on learning. In addition, students hear from AWS professionals who share their career journeys, including their sometimes unexpected paths that led them to careers in the cloud.
Local schools interested in learning more and participating in the program can sign up on the AWS CloudRoom website.
Expanded opportunities inspire young girls and women to pursue dreams in STEAM
This year the AWS Girls’ Tech Day program will mark its five-year anniversary by expanding into a full-fledged Girls’ Tech Series, transforming a one-off event designed to spark an interest in tech into a recurring series of engagements to help kindle that initial STEAM interest into a lifelong passion. The new engagements will include new offerings, such as:
- STEAM Clubs, which will provide students dedicated time before, during, and after school to dive deep into key topics about cloud technology;
- A speaker series through which students can hear first-hand from women in tech who are breaking gender barriers; and
- STEAM competitions, where students will work on projects that apply the knowledge they gained over the course of the year.
The newly expanded program will also use the cloud to build a network of like-minded girls and young women across the globe through an online portal built for Girls Tech Series participants so they can continuously connect and learn from each other.
AWS will begin rolling these new program elements out in time for the 2023-2024 school year following the annual Girls’ Tech Day kick-off event taking place on September 30, 2023 at the Hylton Center in Virginia. The event will once again convene nearly 700 middle school girls for a half day learning event – equal parts education, inspiration, and fun.
“At AWS, we’ve made it a priority to support several initiatives to help create the next generation of creative thinkers and future builders in the communities where we have a physical presence,” said Cornelia Robinson, head of inclusion and outreach at AWS. “We believe in the transformative power of education and through these programs we have the opportunity to help inspire K12 students, higher education students, and adults to unlock their potential.”
These initiatives build upon the longstanding support for education and skills training programs in Virginia.
In 2019, AWS launched the world’s first AWS Think Big Space, an educational STEAM lab, at River Oaks Elementary in Prince William County, Virginia and has since launched spaces at Wakefield High School in Arlington County and J.L. Simpson Middle School in Loudoun County. These spaces, which serve as a place beyond the typical classroom where the technology, curriculum, and the furniture promote hands-on STEAM learning, are available to over 13,000 students across the Commonwealth.
In 2022, AWS opened an AWS Skills Center in Arlington, a space designed to bring cloud computing to life for the community by offering no-cost cloud computing classes. This is in addition to the more than 30 active education and training programs in Virginia to help workers enter data center-related careers. Examples of these programs include AWS re/Start, a no-cost, multi-week, cohort-based workforce development training program that helps unemployed or underemployed individuals with little or no tech experience transition into cloud careers. Another example is the AWS Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing Certificate Courses offered in collaboration with local community colleges, including Northern Virginia Community College and Mountain Empire Community College. These no-cost, two-day training courses provide participants with the skills to enter fiber optic installation and repair.
Read related stories on the AWS Public Sector Blog:
- Empowerment through mentorship: Girls In Tech
- AWS skills training programs open doors to tech careers for Virginia workers
- We Build it Better empowers middle school students with engaging STEAM education
- Empowering girls with STEM education, safely and at scale
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