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KNUST Collaborates With AWS To Bring A new Cloud Future To Students

Tech World

Sept. 7, 2022, 2:23 a.m.

Students from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST and elsewhere can secure a brighter future in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

The COVID-19 pandemic struck, which forced over 80,000 learners into a world of lockdowns and online learning platforms, left the ICT team at KNUST with no choice but to embrace the power of cloud technology to enable the continued and successful operation of its eLearning platform for all students.

According to Emmanuel Afful, Director of University Information Technology Services (UITS) at KNUST, "We were able to execute our solutions rapidly, effectively, and on a broad scale by working with Amazon Web Services (AWS). We were happy with AWS's ability to handle load balancing and horizontal scalability, with an average of 5,000 users completing various activities like assignment submission, discussions, quizzes, material downloads, etc., on our system at any given moment.

KNUST believes that using cloud technology from AWS was the best course of action after a few years had passed since adoption. We can go online and accommodate more students when we need to, without worrying and fussing about the hardware complexity and cost, thanks to the transformation in the educational system and the hundreds of thousands of children sitting at home without attending school. KNUST recognizes the need for African solutions to address African issues nonetheless. For many potential cloud advancements, the problem of internet access across the continent still stands in the way.

"Poor or inadequate connectivity is a problem we are all trying to overcome. We cannot use cloud tech to its full capacity if we do not have the right connectivity. This has seriously hindered cloud adoption in Ghana," he says. Currently, KNUST has a regular face-to-face student base of over 84,000, out of which over 13,000 are pure distance learners. The event is one of the highest numbers of distance learners in the Country for one institution, so a capable cloud solution was needed.

Once KNUST was set up and running optimally on the AWS cloud, it had flexibility and ease of expansion at a significantly reduced cost. "Most institutions in Ghana do not have in-house the right infrastructure to scale quickly. With the cloud, you not only save money on infrastructure, but you can scale in any direction without overthinking it."

With its own data center in place, KNUST can host content locally and rely on the cloud to provide significant benefits to the institution.

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"KNUST has chosen to host some solutions on-premises and others in the cloud. With this hybrid solution in place and with partners like AWS at our back, we know that any cloud-related challenge can be met, and the education of our students can continue to flourish uninterrupted. This is the way of the future!"

In the academic space, Prof. Emmanuel Kofi Akowuah, the critical point of contact on AWS education programmes at KNUST, says, "KNUST started engaging AWS for education through the AWS Educate programme in 2017.

The programme enabled staff and students to get the requisite training on cloud computing and accelerated the interest and adoption of AWS services among staff and students. The career pathways feature proved helpful as this was integrated into the first-year orientation programme of students, especially those in the Computer Engineering programme to enable them to start preparing for a lifelong career in the cloud industry. Student projects also benefited from the cloud credits as students had access to resources to test their products in a cloud environment without the usual associated financial barriers.

Reviewing the AWS programme for Universities, the University migrated to the AWS Academy in March 2022. Currently, the University is an AWS Academy member institution. Currently, the University has over 150 students enrolled in the AWS Cloud Foundations course. There are plans to integrate the AWS Academy into additional academic programmes in the coming years and provide capacity building for local businesses through short courses and workshops.

As a leader in Science, Technology, and Innovation Education in the Country, the University values the relationship with AWS in enhancing the quality of teaching and research. Our relationship with AWS over the last five years has positioned us as the leader in Cloud Technologies regarding education and research in Ghana. We have produced the highest number of Alumni from Ghana working in the Cloud industry within the last five years.

tag: STEM, KNUST, edtech, Ghanaian Education, Cloud Future, ghana,

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Enoch Ntiamoah Author

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