Charleston, South Carolina - Certified cybersecurity instructors at Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic’s Cyber Education and Certification Readiness Facility (CERF) in Charleston are collaborating with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to train active duty military members and civilian employees in cloud computing.

The training is part of the first Department of Defense (DoD) AWS academy and is offered to all branches of service. AWS Academy is a pathway for students and educators to gain AWS cloud computing skills and knowledge via AWS-authorized curriculum; the courses prepare students to pursue industry-recognized AWS certifications.

“This is a tremendous honor and an incredible opportunity to lead the way in cloud computing education for DoD employees,” said Andrew Mansfield, NIWC Atlantic technical director. “Cloud computing is a key component of the next generation of IT and is critical to maintaining the military’s technological advantage. It represents significant change – end-to-end.”

CERF instructors met stringent requirements for certification as part of NIWC Atlantic’s commitment to develop and retain a credentialed workforce.

“The CERF team is providing active duty military members and civilian employees foundational opportunities to learn about and stay abreast of emerging technology domains such as cloud,” said Mansfield.

Wesley Jones, NIWC Atlantic CERF instructor, taught the first one-week, face-to-face portion of the AWS Academy Cloud Foundations course to Marine Corps active duty members and civilian employees at the Pentagon June 10 – 14. The instructors used AWS-provided coursework including lectures, self-assessments and hands-on lab projects.

In addition to classroom training, AWS Academy provides students with one-year online access to remote curriculum that supplements classroom training.

Jones also distributed a step-by-step checklist he developed for self-study to help students pass the related AWS certification exam. He plans to track and encourage class members as they obtain certification.

“The students loved the class; everyone was amped up,” Jones said. “Because I’m a government employee, it put them at ease. We were able to discuss and apply classroom concepts used in government projects during class.”

The CERF has also partnered with AWS Educate, which makes a free online IT sandbox – Amazon Console – available to students for classroom labs and scenarios they create on their own. The students’ sandbox and fresh expertise deploy and test networks, systems and applications relevant to their customers’ requirements.

“Bringing the instructor to the classroom to avoid having students travel to vendor training is convenient – and it’s a huge cost avoidance,” said Jeff Hays, NIWC Atlantic Marine Corp team lead. “Classroom networking is also extremely beneficial; it allows students to discuss specific challenges from the perspective of a DoD environment and facilitates sharing experiences. You don’t get that at vendor training.”

NIWC Atlantic instructors Jones, Kamau Buffalo and Fred Bisel are working diligently to pass additional certification exams so they can teach more AWS courses as they are released.

“The instructors are stars,” said Bisel. “They teach part-time and have other jobs as members of various integrated products teams – many involving cloud computing. Most of their certification study and classroom preparation occurs after business hours -- and they’re also staying abreast of innovations that affect material in existing classes. It’s a continuous learning process and they’re highly motivated.”

The second AWS Academy course for Marine Corps members took place at the Marine Corps Information Technology Center in Kansas City, Missouri, in July.