US Colleges & Universities Face Challenges with Cloud Computing Education, Despite High Demand in Global Workforce

MBA Blog / 23rd May 2017

Despite an increasing need for cloud computing skills in the global workforce, a large number of colleges and universities are slow to offer courses in this field, according to a new report from Clutch, a leading B2B research firm.

LinkedIn named “cloud and distributed computing” as their number one global skill of 2016, indicating a high demand for hiring in 2017. Yet, course offerings are still limited at many institutions of higher education.

Clutch interviewed four professors of cloud computing education from Cornell University, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgetown University, and the University of North Florida. The objective was to gain insight into the current state of cloud computing education, as well as its benefits to students and most prominent challenges.

The professors indicated that, while cloud computing courses are increasing in prevalence at universities and colleges, they are still far from routine. Through the interviews, Clutch identified three main obstacles that may be hindering universities or colleges’ ability to implement a cloud computing course:

  • The higher cost of resources for courses
  • The fast-paced innovation inherent in the field
  • Limited on-campus expertise

In regards to cost, Dr. Majd Sakr, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon, said that “negligent students” led to runaway server usage costs in the early years of his cloud computing course. Typically, cloud computing services are paid for via usage and unless that usage is purposefully regulated, students can potentially accumulate high price tags on projects.

Furthermore, Dr. Ken Birman, a professor at Cornell University, says that cloud computing cannot be taught until its pace of development slows down.

“As a purely pragmatic matter, we cannot teach the area until it begins to slow down and hold still for at least a few years at a time,” he said.

However, fast-paced innovation may be an issue academia faces with increasing frequency in the future. The report suggests that cloud computing’s innovation will potentially never slow down.

Lastly, cloud computing’s recent emergence as a field means that universities and colleges may be slow to find available expertise to properly teach the subject.

Institutes of higher education can potentially address this issue by offering cloud computing training to current faculty, or by reaching out to industry leaders interested in teaching, according to Dr. Sanjay Ahuja of the University of North Florida (UNF).

Despite these obstacles, Dr. Ahuja of UNF, Dr. Sakr of Carnegie Mellon and Professor Kevin McDonald of Georgetown University say they are strongly in support of cloud computing education at universities and colleges.

“It’s becoming more important to understand cloud computing simply because … it’s being adopted quite rapidly now,” said McDonald. “Having in-depth experience and knowledge of the cloud is probably a core competency going forward.”

For the complete report, please visit:

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