George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Mason launches cloud computing certificate to give employees a competitive advantage

July 29, 2020   /   by Martha Bushong

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a torrent of stormy economic forecasts, but for employees with experience and certification in cloud computing, the coming days look sunny.

Beginning in October, faculty from the Department of Information Science and Technology (IST) will begin offering a suite of fully online courses to working professionals who want to gain a competitive advantage in this high demand field.

“This certificate elevates the great work our faculty are doing and allows Amazon Web Services and others to take advantage of Mason talent,” says Marc Austin, executive director of professional education and academic ventures.

Kammy Sanghera, associate chair and professor in IST is coordinating the CPE Cloud certificate program and curriculum. “We’ve assembled a cohesive and collaborative team to teach these courses. Their dedication and versatility will not only prepare students for various AWS certificates but also will make them stand out with technical skills that are most in-demand.”

Here are some tips from faculty for those considering the certificate:

Diana Wang

Expect a fast-pace. “Each course is demanding and challenging,” says Diana Wang, associate professor in IST who participated in the creation of the certificate. She also developed a core course in the program, called Application Development in Cloud. Students should be prepared for the courses to move at a much faster pace than those in the bachelor's degree, she says.

The courses are designed for working professionals who have prior knowledge in the field and can handle the demanding workload and balance multiple tasks at the same time, Wang says.

“Students should take all five courses in the order from lower to higher course number,” she says.

Pouyan Ahmadi

Plan for a focused, targeted approach. This sequence is carefully chosen, thoughtfully organized training for cloud that is not offered in the bachelor’s degree at the current time.

“This kind of training bridges the gap between academics and industry,” says Pouyan Ahmadi, assistant professor in IST. "Employers are eager to hire people with this sort of training and 58 percent ask for experience in cloud computing by name.”

Ahmadi, who is a self-described networking guy, will be teaching the foundational course and a course in service management.

Bobby Varghese

Be ready to hit the ground running.  Students should be sure that they understand cloud computing before enrolling and should have practical uses for what they learn, says Bobby Varghese, an adjunct professor in IST, who has been working in security for more than 15 years. “After the first course, all of the course work is hands-on. The program assumes that students already know the basics.”

Reap the benefits. The certificate consists of five courses designed to help students gain specific knowledge and skills at a much faster pace and at a lower price than a traditional degree. Once they complete the suite of courses they also earn an employer-recognized digital badge. The badge can be placed on resumes, LinkedIn profiles.

The certificate provides a solid foundation for cloud services management and for building, deploying, and maintaining various cloud models and applications. Students completing the certificate will be well-positioned for passing the AWS certification exams, including the Foundational Certification (AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner), the Associate Certifications (AWS Certified Solutions Architect, AWS Certified Developer), and the Specialty Certifications (AWS Certified Data Analytics, AWS Certified Security).

“The launch of the new cloud computing certificate follows Mason’s long history of partnership with industry to deliver high demand knowledge and skills in real-time,” says Liza Wilson Durant, associate dean for strategic initiatives and community engagement.” The new certificate enables us to bring our cloud computing expertise to a broader audience of learners beyond the traditional student and support the expansion of a highly-skilled workforce on a regional and national scale.”

See our program flyer.