New Cloud Computing Certification Program Opens Up a Virtual World of Opportunity

The global cloud computing market is expected to grow by around $500 billion in the next five years, and the need for skilled cloud computing administrators and technicians will grow along with it.

The new School of Professional and Continuing Studies at the University of Virginia Cloud Computing Certificate Program, which begins this summer, will position students to meet that rapidly growing demand. The 18-credit program prepares students to begin careers as systems operations managers or solutions architects for organizations that use cloud computing, which essentially takes common computing services and brings them online, making them more accessible and cost-effective for a wide variety of companies.

The program is specially designed to fit in with the Amazon Web Services certification process. Amazon Web Services, or AWS, is a subsidiary of Amazon that provides cloud computing services. As of 2017, AWS represented 33% of cloud computing providers worldwide. The Cloud Computing Certificate program will prepare students to earn AWS certifications, specifically the entry-level AWS Cloud Practitioner certification and associate-level AWS certification exams in the Architect (Solutions Architect) or Operations (SysOps Manager). It is not necessary to appear for certification to pass the course, but according to program coordinator Kiran Chittargi, students will be well prepared to do so if they choose to do so.

“It was important for students to gain quality education and hands-on experience from an accredited university like UVA, but also to position them to pursue a variety of industry certifications, as the course curriculum is closely aligned with industry best practices. industry,” said Chittargi, who also serves as a senior manager at Microsoft. She has more than 20 years of experience in software engineering, with an emphasis on cloud computing.

“Students are exposed to fundamental concepts on how to design, implement, manage, and operate cloud computing applications, gaining the conceptual understanding, technical knowledge, and human skills necessary to be successful in the workplace,” Chittargi said. “Graduates will be able to demonstrate knowledge of computers, networks, storage, and database services necessary for robust cloud deployments.”

Cloud computing demand was already growing before the COVID-19 pandemic. That demand has accelerated as companies around the world transitioned to remote or hybrid work schedules.

“The need was growing beforehand, then the pandemic hit and we saw even more companies and organizations turn to cloud computing to complete their work virtually,” said Hollie Lee, director of certification programs for SCPS. “We wanted to give our students the opportunity to meet industry demand and provide access to people who might not have other ways to enter the field at the entry level.”

The certificate program requires a high school degree; classes are offered online, both synchronously and asynchronously, giving adult learners flexibility to meet work and family responsibilities. All courses are designed to be interactive and hands-on, allowing students the opportunity to complete projects that closely mirror the work they would do in the field.

“Our students are not just learning theory. They are doing practical applications, learning by doing, to be well prepared for the workforce,” Lee said. “They can show an employer that they have done projects and proven their skills. That makes them more competitive candidates.”

Like Chittargi, all of the program’s instructors currently work in cloud computing.

“They have the relevant industry knowledge and they’re at it every day,” Lee said. “They know the latest technology, they have a clear understanding of the trends in their industry, and they know what a student needs to know to enter the workforce.”

Lee and her colleagues are particularly focused on working with employers in Northern Virginia, where many large tech companies have offices and where UVA has a large alumni and student base. Last year, Amazon unveiled designs for its second headquarters in Arlington, which is expected to be completed in 2023.

“Northern Virginia is a target geographic location for us, with so many cloud computing jobs and opportunities available there,” Lee said. “We are actively working with businesses that are in need and building connections with potential employers.”

UVA students can expect to leave the program with the necessary experience to help them fill some of those roles and advance their careers.

“Many of our students are changing careers or already working in information technology and want to expand their knowledge and skills,” Chittargi said. “They have the opportunity to interact with UVA faculty and peers and industry leaders through discussion forums, group projects, presentations, office hours, and networking.”

Learn more about the program and the application process.. Start dates are in May, August or January.

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