F3-COMP4-3 - Preparation and execution of final year student projects on the cloud1. Innovative Practice Full Paper
1 Cork Institute Of Technology
Full Paper: The importance of teaching cloud computing topics for computer science students has been accepted by academic departments and supported by the main cloud providers. AWS, GCP and Azure have initiatives (e.g. AWS Educate) to facilitate the delivery of cloud-related topics. They offer templates for syllabuses, assessments as well as access to infrastructure. Currently this is still an ongoing effort that aims to address specific computing topics as Network, Architectures and Machine Learning. There is no provision to accommodate the requirements for a Final Year project (FYP) or Dissertation undertaken by students in their last semester of studies for BSc or MSc degrees.
Pursing a cloud-based FYP enables a student to experiment with different architectures, network configurations and services (e.g. access high performance CPUs for machine learning), understand serverless deployments and their costings and exposes them to best practices such as having development, stage and live environments. Consequently, it exercises diverse competences and provides an essential foundation for a sound and solid career path in IT.
Attracting however a student to undertake such a project is not straightforward. Within computing there are numerous other interesting domains to choose from. The job market is relatively positive in most countries and students may prioritise finishing their studies in a convenient way rather than choosing a possibly perplexing project. The FYP is an individual effort-it is not a class sharing the same issues- hence any problem must be resolved by the student individually. There is concern over unknown cloud technologies and the learning curve required to master them, within a heavily demanding final year of studies. Finally, an issue nowadays addressed but which has caused upsets in the past is the requirement to use a credit card to create an account on the main cloud providers.
We have specified a methodology for managing FYP project on the cloud that reflects on the observations outlined above and tackles the issues deriving from them in order to facilitate the adoption and execution cloud-based FYPs. The methodology consists of the following stages:
- Promotion: Demonstrate on full class cohort the nature and usage of cloud platforms, examples of project delivery, tutorials and online courses and associated career pathways to attract interest for pre-defined projects.
- On Boarding: Setup accounts and credits and complete a single, hands-on, short, end-to-end project under supervision to build confidence and awareness.
- Training: Follow two two-week sprints with bottom-up approach, undertake existing cloud provider short courses starting with individual services and obtain training budges by passing upskilling short assessments, design and plan project delivery.
- Execution: Monitor usage through detailed logging and evaluate design decisions
- Completion: Consider and take certification exams to solidify skills acquired.
- Completeness of FYP (supervisor/student)
- Frequency and type of use of cloud services (student)
- Considering, undertaking and passing certification exams (student)
- Addition of educational material to cloud portals (supervisor)
- Increasing numbers of involved students every semester (supervisor)