AWS Public Sector Blog

University of Pennsylvania: 100 Machines for Each Student

The dramatic shift in resources available to students in today’s modern classrooms brings more possibilities in teaching styles. What kind of computer classes did you take while in school? From old-school typing classes to cloud-based learning, students now have access to tools to keep up with the changing technology landscape. To be job ready after graduation, the entrepreneurs, workforce, and researchers of tomorrow are now empowered with access to cloud-related learning endeavors while at school.

One example of bringing the cloud to the classroom is in the teaching style of Zach Ives, professor in the Department of Computer & Information Science at UPenn, in collaboration with Professor Andreas Haeberlen.

UPenn students access cloud resources with help from AWS Educate

The Computer and Information Science department at UPenn offers a wide range of IT courses to undergraduate and graduate students. The school took advantage of resources provided through AWS Educate to give its students access to high-performance computing resources for classes, such as web systems, mobile-game creation, and cloud computing. By accessing AWS services, the students can experience building and deploying large, sophisticated cloud systems, giving them the experience for real-world jobs.

Watch the video here.

For UPenn, AWS Educate has been transformative because it changed the ability to offer assignments and projects that have a large component. Instead of being limited to only one machine per student, Professor Ives was able to take advantage of 100 machines at every student’s disposal to build large-scale courses with substantial projects, such as going from theories like web crawling and distributed systems to implementation. The web service capabilities that AWS offers are powerful, scalable, and cost-efficient. It also allows different students to be isolated from one another, so one student cannot crash all of the services that the other student is using.

Professor Ives built a course around the concept of having students build their own Facebook (for the school) from scratch. Through giving students real-life cloud tools it empowers them to think beyond the textbook and become builders and inventors, using technology that only the world’s biggest companies once had access to. It’s all about re-thinking how schools teach, so that assignments are inspiring and boost student confidence, while getting students job ready.

“Giving my students access to technology is critical to deepening their understanding of cloud computing. To get them to really understand how to do tasks like spin up and down a virtual machine is imperative to giving them the ability and confidence to succeed in their future careers. I’m happy to share my coursework with the AWS Educate educator community, and look forward to learning from fellow computer science professors,” said Zach Ives.

AWS Educate exposes cloud services to academia and also provides a portal for academics to share materials and benefit from others to build more challenging, inspiring, and different course curriculum. With these offerings, students are better prepared for tasks and intellectual challenges that they may face in their life outside of the classroom. The AWS Cloud allows students to take theoretical concepts like complexity, scale, unreliability, and failures and actually study the concepts and deal with these complexities for real. This leads to a sense of pride and understanding on how things really work.

Access cloud content, training, collaboration tools, and AWS technology at no cost by joining AWS Educate today. Find out about other offerings and how students, educators, and institutions are taking advantage of AWS Educate by following #AWSEducate and @AWS_Edu.

AWS Public Sector Blog Team

AWS Public Sector Blog Team

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Public Sector Blog team writes for the government, education, and nonprofit sector around the globe. Learn more about AWS for the public sector by visiting our website (, or following us on Twitter (@AWS_gov, @AWS_edu, and @AWS_Nonprofits).