ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business and University Technology Office deliver a course on cloud computing to high school students.

ASU course encourages high schoolers to get their heads in the cloud


In partnership with National Education Equity Lab and Amazon Web Services, ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business and University Technology Office deliver a course on cloud computing to high school students

The teaching fellows are critical to the success of the course. Not only do they provide opportunities for live instruction and discussion, but also take on the bulk of the daily tasks – including grading and communications with students – which takes pressure off the high school teachers.

W.P. Carey Professors Raghu Santanam and Jason Nichols co-teach the course, along with UTO’s Deputy CIO John Rome.Santanam notes, “The next generation of jobs will require a working knowledge of cloud computing infrastructures. It is therefore very essential for any student today to be familiar with cloud technologies and their potential applications. Getting this foundational knowledge while still in high school gives a great opportunity for these students to develop interest in technology careers.”

Welcome to the cloud: Soar into CIS 194 Cloud Foundations 

At a high level, cloud computing is simply an approach to share central computing resources and infrastructure across multiple clients. The ability to use the same underlying infrastructure for multiple firms enables greater flexibility, security, reliability and efficiency for the clients. 

The course uses weekly modules to deliver content, with topics ranging from an introduction to the internet, networks, and the basics of cloud computing – from cloud architecture to storage.

The course builds off AWS content to teach more specifics about the cloud. This makes sense as AWS is the largest cloud provider, owning almost half the world’s public cloud infrastructure market

In fact, Rome adds, “AWS provides a nice starter kit of cloud content that we could build off of to provide a great learning experience for these students. In addition to getting college credit and the opportunity to get an industry recognized certification, another benefit is getting the idea that going to college is more attainable in the student’s minds. How great that a course like this can change the trajectory of these students.”  

The course stretches students to explore the role of cloud technology in a modern business, identify appropriate cloud services to support business needs, configure basic cloud infrastructure through ASW and recommend improvements for basic cloud infrastructure changes. 

Smith notes that the course not only equips students with a foundation of cloud computing, but also teaches best practices for online etiquette. She gave examples of students learning how to properly format an email, participate in Zoom lessons and submit assignments on time

“In addition to the technical foundation they are learning for cloud computing, these skills will make students more employable and hopefully ease the transition into college,” Smith reflected. 

At the end of the course, students can receive high school and college credit, and are also invited to complete the AWS cloud practitioner certification exam, free of charge. 

Aligning with careers of the future

Cloud computing is expected to continue to grow over the next few years, impacting career journeys for those working in this technical space and for organizations transitioning to a cloud-based infrastructure as part of their digital transformations. 

In fact, ASU embarked on its shift to become a fully cloud-based infrastructure as early as 2015. Major milestones include migrating ASU’s data warehouse to the cloud, resulting in faster speeds, lower costs and nearly infinite scalability. 

While it was an early wakeup call for Smith, she shared her excitement about working with leaders of the future: “these students are so passionate about learning, they really give the course its heartbeat.”

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