Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

June 02, 2020 | Tom Ballard

Two-track cloud computing training series launches tonight

More than 130 people had registered as of Monday afternoon for the inaugural sessions in a new “Summer Program in Cloud Computing Skills” that begins in a virtual world later today. It’s part of a larger effort called “Tennessee Digital Jobs Factory” that is based in the Department of Business Analytics and Statistics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

“We’ve been thinking about this for a while,” says Ken Gilbert, Professor Emeritus in the academic program in the Haslam College of Business. “We decided to speed it up a bit,” explaining that COVID-19 was significantly impacting summer internships and actual job offers for students.

“We can help our students by providing an educational purpose to their summer, and in 10 weeks’ time, they’ll be able to sit for a cloud computing certification,” he explained. “These certifications are highly valued by industry, including local companies who are members of the Knoxville Technology Council.”

The courses are expected to help prepare the students for the Amazon Web Service (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud exams.

As described by Gilbert, the dual-track program has a 10-week technical track component that requires about 10 hours of commitment a week and a shorter, managerial track that runs for five weeks and requires between two and five hours of commitment per week.

Both tracks launch today – the managerial track at 5 p.m. today and the technical one at 6 p.m.

“The instruction will primarily be asynchronous with a weekly synchronous meeting and a chat room managed by a graduate student,” Gilbert said. The instructor is Noah Gift, Founder of Pragmatic AI Labs that provides training and consulting in AI, Cloud and Python. He was also on the design team for Amazon’s Web Services Certification and is now a Lecturer or Adjunct at a number of colleges including two University of California campuses – Berkeley and Davis, Duke, Northwestern, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Gilbert amplified on the selection of cloud computing as the focus, citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics about computer and information technology jobs. According to the federal agency, nearly 550,000 new jobs in that field are expected to be added to the workforce between 2018 and 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

“By coupling a cloud computing certification with college coursework, our students’ employment prospects will be greatly enhanced,” Gilbert says.

The five-session managerial track ends July 1, while the 10-session technical track ends August 5. If there is sufficient interest at the end of the technical track, an optional one-week experience will be offered in which students from each track will team-up to create a product and a plan for a new business.

The team is also asking for input from employers regarding their workforce needs. Those interested in participating can complete the survey that can be found here.