AWS Public Sector Blog

Year one insights from the Louisiana workforce development collaboration with AWS Educate

One year ago, the state of Louisiana announced a collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to launch statewide an AWS Educate cloud associate degree program. Built in collaboration with the Office of the Governor John Bel Edwards, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.), and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS), the program provides cloud computing opportunities across the 12 LCTCS colleges.

After the first year of the program, LCTCS provided an update on how the program continues to grow and scale. Of the 12 colleges in the LCTCS system, eight now offer the associate’s degree of applied science in cloud computing, and the remaining four colleges are expected to offer the degree by fall 2020. Approximately 380 students have taken at least one cloud course. More students are now able to graduate with the skills needed to obtain jobs in cloud computing careers.

The cloud degree program takes the learn-apply-advance approach, which means the classes are tailored towards success in the field. “Every step I have taken, every career decision that I have made has been based on a strong foundation of computer science and technology knowledge,” said MacDonald Milanzi, Delgado Community College associate’s degree graduate, Drexel University Master of Science student and intern at DXC Technology. “Working with many talented individuals around the globe and being mentored by the best professionals in the industry is what I like most. This mixture of cultures, talents, and work ethic has brought experience, maturity, and advancement in my career.”

MacDonald Milanzi, Deglado Community College associate's degree graduate, Drexel University Master of Science student and DXC Technology Intern.

MacDonald Milanzi, Delgado Community College associate’s degree graduate, Drexel University Master of Science student and intern at DXC Technology.

Colleges had open communication to gain agreement on curriculum and quickly adopt the program. “The biggest challenge we faced was developing a curriculum that addressed the growing need for cloud computing professionals, agreeing on a rigorous, timely, and consistent curriculum across our 12 colleges to provide a seamless pathway for students transferring within the system and beyond,” said Ryan Pierce, co-lead of the Cloud Computing Team (peer group) from Louisiana Delta Community College. “With so many great minds in the room, it was natural that there would be some differences of opinion. And while the journey to consensus had its fair share of turbulence, we found a rhythm and settled on what we have in place today after many thoughtful conversations.”

“When we initially set out to establish this statewide cloud computing effort with AWS, we did so because our mission of workforce development aligned perfectly with meeting the needs of the state’s growing demand for skilled IT professionals,” said Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

But with the realities of COVID-19-related unemployment, continuing to provide opportunities for students and residents to pursue in-demand careers became even more important.

“A year later, no one could have predicted the world’s current circumstances and how technology would fundamentally change our daily lives,” said Monty Sullivan. “The way we live, learn, and conduct business has been changed for the better, and it is exciting to know that our graduates with the Associate Degree in Cloud Computing will help enhance the lives of Louisianans, the nation, and the world.”

Soon after the announcement in Louisiana, the AWS Educate cloud computing programs launched statewide in Virginia and Texas as well as regionally in California (Los Angeles and the Bay Area), and internationally with institutions in Bahrain, United Kingdom, and Spain.

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Marla Bradbury

Marla Bradbury

Marla Bradbury is the marketing leader of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) global education programs and workforce team.

Nicholas Lee-Romagnolo

Nicholas Lee-Romagnolo

Nicholas Lee-Romagnolo is a program manager for the AWS Educate Cloud Degree Initiative at Amazon Web Services (AWS).