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Computer Science Professor Leverages AWS Cloud Technologies for Research and Teaching

Dr. Carlos MonroyComputer Science Assistant Professor Carlos Monroy knows the impact of cloud technologies. He aimed high and set his sights on Amazon Web Services (AWS). It paid off — Monroy had previously secured an AWS grant for research and to teach UST students cloud-based technologies. Moreover, he was named an AWS Educate Cloud Ambassador, and UST became an AWS Academy member institution.

Monroy Named to 2020 Cohort AWS Educate Cloud Ambassadors

The Cloud Ambassador Program is for top-tier cloud educators who serve as ambassadors and evangelists for AWS Educate. After submitting a video to AWS explaining how he could contribute to getting the word out about AWS, Monroy was selected as one of 235 AWS Cloud Ambassadors worldwide. As part of this cohort, he will share experiences in teaching cloud technologies to the UST community and the larger Houston area.

In addition, Monroy plans to partner with other departments at UST, for instance, with the Cameron School of Business, presenting to those students, who may not have the technical background but may be decision makers on new technologies, so they become aware of the benefits of Amazon Cloud Services and Resources.

Monroy says being named an AWS Ambassador has benefits for his UST classes too. “The class benefits because students can learn about these services and how the technology works,” Monroy said. “I can tout the benefits of using this technology and let them know how their careers could be improved or expanded by knowing this information.”

Veronica Macario, a senior Computational Biology major says: "These technologies will allow me to be more prepared when looking for jobs, and I can also apply the concepts learned in the work field. I think it is very helpful for students that the UST Computer Science program has incorporated AWS Cloud technologies as part of the curriculum."

For his participation, which is partly outside of his regular role as faculty, Monroy receives a certificate for his contribution to the AWS Educate Cloud Ambassador Program.

UST Joins AWS Academy

AWS Academy provides higher education institutions with a ready-to-teach cloud computing curriculum that prepares students to pursue industry-recognized certifications and in-demand cloud jobs.

“AWS Academy’s curriculum enables our educators to teach students about cloud technologies,” Monroy said. “It offers a solid technical foundation that can be expanded to more sophisticated areas such as cloud architecture, machine learning and data analytics, all using AWS.”

The courses are developed and maintained by AWS and taught by AWS Academy accredited educators. To become accredited, educators go through rigorous professional training.

“I applied for this designation and serve as the person of contact. This requires me to teach at least one UST course per year utilizing the curriculum they developed.”

Monroy piloted the program last semester and is teaching it again this fall incorporating the curriculum into two his UST courses.

AWS Academy courses help students develop in-demand cloud computing skills by providing hands-on experience in the AWS Cloud and lessons based on actual industry scenarios. This fits into the UST Computer Science program adopting situated learning as its pedagogical framework, which emphasizes the contexts of practice in which learning takes place.

“Students benefit from hands-on-experience with AWS, using and understanding the benefits in the workplace,” Monroy said. “The students will pick a problem to solve – database or web server for example. They will organize and deploy applications in the cloud to carry out that problem-solving function. Last semester, we did small lab projects, but this semester, we will tackle a major one.”

Lan Nguyen, a senior Computer Science major, says about his experience with AWS in the classroom: "AWS provides a wide range of cloud computing topics, building up a valuable foundation for students to understand core concepts, services, and infrastructure."

AWS Academy courses and learning resources are aligned to industry-recognized AWS Certification.

“The students also have the option to take an AWS Certification exam, which isn’t mandatory but is of interest to more and more potential employers,” Monroy said. He adds that UST has its Blackboard learning platform on the AWS Cloud.

“My goal with AWS Academy is to offer the curriculum in some of my computer science courses, eventually create new offerings as part of UST continuing education programs, giving students the possibility of earning a certificate,” Monroy said.