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AWS Recognizes 10 Innovators in Inaugural Education Awards

Recognized at the AWS IMAGINE 2022 event in Seattle earlier this month, the AWS Education Champions’ first cohort includes infrastructure and IT managers, cloud engineers, program directors and administrators.

Digital illustration of children learning in a classroom with technology like VR headsets and laptops.
Both K-12 and higher education have become environments for digital innovation, most notably since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it be to improve student outcomes, create equity in education across the board or develop robust cybersecurity. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has seen this, and recently launched a new program spotlighting 10 educators for their efforts in driving transformation through cloud computing.

AWS announced the honorees of its new Education Champions program during its annual IMAGINE conference earlier this month, according to a blog post penned by AWS Vice President of U.S. Education, State and Local Government Kim Majerus. The program, in its inaugural year, lauds administrative leaders, teachers in K-12 and higher education, chief information officers, IT directors, data scientists and researchers who use cloud computing to transform teaching, learning or research, ultimately making education “always available, personal and lifelong” — a vision that AWS shares, according to the program’s website.

“During this transformative moment in education, technology and forward-thinking leaders will make all of this possible,” Majerus wrote. “That’s why AWS launched the Education Champions program to highlight remarkable leaders who continue to move education forward.”

Winners in the first cohort were chosen for their areas of specialty within four categories: modernizing and securing the academy, which involves shifting IT systems into the cloud or building a digitally connected campus; turning data into wisdom, which means collection, analytics, archiving and operational use of institutional data; enriching the student experience, which involves tools like virtual computing labs and digital assistants to offer round-the-clock student support; and empowering researchers and accelerating research, which means data sets, funding and training to aid collaborative research across the globe.

Winners in the security category were
  • Don Wolff, CIO, Portland Public Schools
  • Kari Robertson, executive director of infrastructure services, Office of the President, University of California
  • Michael Coats, IT infrastructure manager and cloud solutions architect, Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency

Winners in the data section included
  • Andrew Williams, dean and Louis S. LeTellier chair, The Citadel School of Engineering
  • Max Tsai, digital transformation and innovation officer, California State University at Fresno
  • Subash D’Souza, cloud data engineering director, Chancellor’s Office, California State University

Those credited with enriching student experiences were
  • John Rome, deputy CIO, Arizona State University
  • Sarah Toms, executive director and co-founder of Wharton Interactive, University of Pennsylvania

The research specialty honorees included
  • Azizi Seixas, founding director of the Media and Innovation Lab and associate professor at Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami
  • Noora Siddiqui, cloud engineer, Genome Sequencing Center, Baylor College of Medicine

All of the honorees will receive professional development and thought leadership opportunities, as well as the chance to speak on their initiatives at future AWS conferences.