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MSAN Program Receives Amazon Web Services in Education Grant

Amazon Web Services

Congratulations to the Masters of Science in Analytics (MSAN) program for receiving an Education Grant from Amazon Web Services (AWS)!

“AWS gives our MS in Analytics and computer science students access to resources that would otherwise be difficult to fund at a school of our size,” says USF Professor Terence Parr.

Recipients of the AWS Education Grants obtain free usage credits to tap into Amazon Web Services on-demand cloud infrastructure to teach advanced courses, tackle research endeavors, and explore new projects - tasks that previously would have required expensive up-front and ongoing investments in infrastructure. With the AWS cloud, educational institutions can access industry-shaping technology at an affordable cost.

“Amazon wants to work with innovative programs at strong academic institutions,” states USF Professor and MSAN Program Director Jeff Hamrick. “The MSAN program certainly qualifies as such. I also suspect that Amazon is keen on working with academic institutions in the Bay Area, since the Bay Area is such a hub for analytics and data science. USF and Berkeley, are the two education institution customer case studies."

Professor Terence Parr and Professor Jeff Hamrick secured the AWS grant totaling $23,780 for this upcoming academic year. “Amazon has agreed to give each of our students and five faculty members $580 worth of computing time on their cloud, or approximately 173 days of round-the-clock computing on a single very fast desktop computer. As part of the grant agreement, one element of AWS and USF’s partnership that will change over the next year is that the MSAN program will create a stylized classroom tutorial that shows other academic institutions how the MSAN program implements AWS for particular classroom projects."

Parr adds, “While most data analysis still involves data sets of small or medium size, it is relatively easy for a typical master’s program in statistics to train students to analyze smaller data sets. Some businesses, however, are finding it advantageous to use data sets that are so large that the data cannot fit over a single computer."

“It’s important that our MSAN students gain reasonable facility with cloud computing since at least some data science jobs call for the Hadoop and MapReduce skills, software framework for easily writing applications which process vast amounts of data, and skills that are useful for enabling computations across those computers,” says Hamrick.

“With these resources, as well as the deployment of an IBM PureFlex System in the College of Arts And Sciences,” Hamrick states, “I am optimistic that we are well-positioned to tackle the vast majority of classroom projects and projects that are posed to us by current or prospective practicum partners.”

The AWS grant will be accessible to students in the MSAN program starting this Fall 2014 Semester.

Written by Alyssa Aninag