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AWS Jam Puts Cloud Computing Skills to the Test

Alex Kasten
By Alex Kasten

Students in the first AWS Jam at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) embraced the competition with energy, tackling challenges across common AWS services use-cases to earn points as they improved their cloud computing skills.

The May 6 event hosted by UMGC offered participants a fun and competitive format designed to prepare them to compete in this expanding field.

“The cloud landscape continues to experience substantial growth,” said Dr. Helen Barker, department chair in the School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology at UMGC. “The upsurge in cloud adoption is expected to persist beyond 2023, especially as organizations continue to recognize cloud’s potential to transform how their people, processes and technologies can operate in harmony to drive outcomes across the business.”

An AWS (Amazon Web Services) Jam is an immersive event that encourages participants to hone their cloud skills through hands-on real-world scenarios. The scenarios vary in difficulty, and students earn points for successful responses.    

“This event was excellent opportunity for participants to experiment and use a wide range of AWS services,” said Dr. Patrick Appiah-Kubi, director of the Cloud Computing Program at UMGC and event organizer. “The participants definitely benefited from UMGC and AWS experts who supported them while they tackled the different scenarios.”

Jams allow participants to identify their cloud strengths and areas of improvement, all within a collaborative environment. For UMGC student and AWS Jam participant Steve Ventura, who anticipates earning his bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity technology in 2024, the event provided invaluable exposure. “It was my first time working with simulated cloud environments, but I felt like I learned a lot,” he said. “In just a few hours I solved real-world issues and gained skills that I hope to talk about in future interviews with potential employers.”

Participants from UMGC and Montgomery College, as well as UMGC alumni, competed for the coveted top place on the leaderboard in the event. Competitors experienced a wide range of operational tasks, such as dealing with remediation at scale, automation, forensics, incident response, artificial intelligence and machine learning, DevOps, and compliance. The event was gamified with teams competing to score points by completing a series of challenges over the course of a day.