Dallas College News Update

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Contact: Cherie Yurco; cmyurco@dcccd.edu

For immediate release — Aug. 12, 2021

(DALLAS) — One key focus at Dallas College is ensuring that our students are workforce-ready. In the IT industry, one important word employers are currently scanning résumés for is “cloud.” Dallas College Engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology Department Chair Juli Hart calls it “the hottest new job skill.”

What is cloud computing? The cloud is a term used to describe the latest in the constant evolution to make IT architecture more efficient and cost effective.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a cloud system has these five characteristics:

  1. Broad network access (laptops, smartphones connected to servers, storage)
  2. Resource pooling (assets shared among users)
  3. Rapid elasticity (grows or shrinks based on demand)
  4. On-demand self-service (users with limited technical expertise can access)
  5. Measured service (ability to charge based on usage)

“Any time you buy something online, download or upload something, tweet or post something to YouTube, that’s all in the cloud,” said Hart.

Companies are adding more cloud components to their IT architecture than ever before. Moving to the cloud enhances security and stability, cuts costs and provides greater flexibility. COVID-19 has pushed businesses to rely on the cloud. This resulted in strong demand and revenue growth for cloud services like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Salesforce.

Forrester Research Inc. predicts that 30% of firms will continue to increase their cloud spending, while the global public cloud infrastructure market will grow 35% to $120 billion in 2021.

Degrees Open New Doors

Launched in 2019, Dallas College cloud computing programs currently allow students to choose between two Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees: Cloud Computing or Cloud System Operations. Hart works with Dr. Raghunath Kanakala, vice provost, Dallas College School of Engineering, Technology, Mathematics and Sciences, to ensure the programs meet workforce needs.

The Cloud Computing A.A.S. is for students with no previous IT experience, while the Cloud System Operations A.A.S. is for students with prior IT training who are looking to upgrade their skill set. There are currently 83 students enrolled in Cloud Computing and 32 in the System Operations program. The first of these students are scheduled to graduate Fall 2021.

Among the students, Tom Shim has already begun contract work with Microsoft as an Azure support technician. “It’s exactly where I want to be,” he said. “I enjoy fixing problems, teaching and helping people learn.”

This will be his second degree from Dallas College as he already holds a degree in network administration and support. “I saw cloud computing as the next field that’s growing and expanding, and I wanted to give myself more opportunities,” he said. “You can’t beat the cost and quality of education, but the best part is definitely the teachers.”

He would like to eventually become a full-time employee at Microsoft and maybe even teach as adjunct faculty at Dallas College one day. “When classes went online, I helped as a TA for a couple classes,” he said.

Online classes actually aren’t the best option for IT training, so Hart is relieved to return to in-person classes. “Immediate feedback is so important for anything in IT,” she said. “In the classroom, they can ask questions, and they are accountable to show up and do the work. Outside of the classroom, they may rush through the materials. We are all happy to have the opportunity to come back.”

“During quarantine, everyone — teachers and students — had to go through extraordinary efforts,” said Hart. “I recorded all the lectures and broke up the labs into demos. I simulated being there as much as I could.”

Dr. Kanakala and Hart are constantly re-evaluating their cloud offerings with workforce readiness in mind. They are hard at work creating a new developer degree that will incorporate cloud training, as well as possible cloud certificate programs.

They are also looking into offering students the option to specialize in Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud. “That would cover the three main technologies,” she said. Beyond that, she hopes they can establish partnerships and internships for each platform.

One interesting thing they are discovering is how tied the jobs are to the various networking technologies, said Kanakala. “Everyone wants you to have these skills, though the job you get may not have the word ‘cloud’ in it.”

“We expect the need for cloud training is going to ramp up completely — triple, double what it is now — but the industries are still making use of their existing job titles,” he explained. Positions graduates apply for will be in networking or cybersecurity.

“There are a lot of networking jobs out there, and the best-paid ones are going to involve cloud technology knowledge,” added Hart. “Students who complete these programs successfully should have wild success.”

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