Earns Amazon

Louisiana will the become the first state to adopt an Amazon-branded cloud-computing degree for its state college systems, expanding from its two-years community and technical colleges to four-year computer science degree offerings across the University of Louisiana System, as well as at the Southern University and LSU systems.

Louisiana is set to become the first state to adopt an Amazon-branded cloud-computing degree for its state college systems.

Starting with a two-year program at the 12 schools in the Louisiana Community and Technical Colleges System, state authorities said they expect to expand it beyond this summer to four-year computer science degree offerings across the University of Louisiana System, as well as at the Southern University and LSU systems.

The degrees will offer a curriculum developed by Amazon Web Services called "AWS Educate," with subjects covering areas like artificial intelligence, voice and face recognition, and gaming.

Amazon will not contribute any money to the college systems or creating a scholarship program, but it will provide "human capital" in the form of staff who will teach the system's information technology instructors Amazon's cloud-computing tools and techniques, according to Quentin Taylor, a spokesman for LCTCS.

The head of Greater New Orleans Inc., the city's economic development agency, which brokered the deal, said the closer links between industry and academia mark a trend.

“We are seeing an unprecedented collaboration between our higher ed and industry partners, and the integration of the AWS Educate curriculum is yet another milestone for this collaboration," said Michael Hecht, GNO's CEO. "In Greater New Orleans and all across Louisiana, we have become a model for workforce training programs."

Louisiana has been ardently pursuing technology companies to locate in the state to diversify the economy, offering tax incentives and other inducements, as well as links to the higher education systems for biotechnology and IT.

At a news conference announcing the deal in Baton Rouge, Gov. John Bel Edwards said, "This means our students will be at the forefront of a degree program that is in direct response to the growing needs of tech employers throughout Louisiana."

The program is designed to be vocational and funnel graduates into jobs at Amazon and other tech companies requiring specific cloud-computing skills.

The program will "focus on real-world, applied learning experiences," and give students access to "AWS Educate Job Board," which advertises thousands of cloud-computing jobs and internships worldwide.

René Cintrón, chief academic affairs officer at LCTCS, says the academic program will contain more than just the AWS Educate syllabus, with advice from an outside panel of experts.

"We do need collaboration between industry and academia, and not just from the computing industry but from automobile, petrochemicals, aerospace, even agriculture. All of those industries now are using the cloud to store data," Cintrón said.


Follow Anthony McAuley on Twitter, @AnthonyMcAuley2.