Q&A with new partners: Oracle Academy and Amazon Web Services


Based on the pillars of institutional policy, quality, curriculum, faculty innovation and technology, Building University-Industry Learning and Development through Innovation and Technology — known as BUILD-IT, leverages deep and diverse government, industry and academic partners that share a goal of tightly linking science, technology, engineering, and math instruction in Vietnamese higher education institutions to the needs and capabilities of industry partners to produce graduates who can lead inclusive, technology-based growth. BUILD-IT has recently welcomed two new partners to the family: Oracle Academy and Amazon Web Services. Both partners share our commitment and will bring innovative curriculum development opportunities directly to the Vietnamese faculty.

Kathy Wigal, BUILD-IT Project Director and Associate Director of Curricular Innovation at ASU, recently discussed the new partnership with Damian Hass, Oracle Academy’s Asia Pacific Regional Director and Sam Harris, from Amazon Web Services Business Development for Education, Research and Not-For-Profit.

Q&A with Oracle Academy’s Damian Hass

What excites you most about the BUILD-IT project and working with the Vietnamese Universities?

Hass: “Working with the BUILD-IT project has presented Oracle Academy with an opportunity to participate in a long-term project that is at the heart of what the Academy is all about. Oracle Academy’s mission is to advance computer science education globally, and drive knowledge, innovation, skills development and diversity in technology fields. Since the early 1990s, Oracle has been providing support for education and today we support nearly 3.1 million students annually in 110 countries and make an annual in-kind investment of nearly $3.5 billion to help close the technology skills gap and make students college and career ready. BUILD-IT has provided an opportunity to extend our work in Asia and bring this support for education to Vietnam education institutions.”

What does Oracle Academy bring to the BUILD-IT project?

Hass: “Oracle Academy understands and values educators, and is committed to partnering with them to advance computer science as part of our collective educational mission. We believe that we must equip and support teachers with the innovative curriculum, training, workshops and self-study courses, and other information and resources they need to facilitate student learning in and outside the classroom. Our experience in working with education institutions and educators around the world and our understanding of the needs and trends within industry help us to bring useful offerings to our members.”

How does this create value for the universities?

Hass:Oracle Academy programs are global, free, vendor-neutral and completely philanthropic.  Through partnerships and direct support, Oracle Academy creates a computer science education pathway from primary schools through to higher education to cultivate critical thinking and core, in-demand skills. What a student studies is important and is the foundation for them finding meaningful employment in their chosen field. We want to help institutions provide their students with the best curriculum and programs possible to enhance the institution’s programs and provide their students with the best opportunities.”

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Vietnamese Universities? How can you support the Vietnamese society?

Hass: “The need for computer science skills is pervasive across all industries, not just for technology companies. Employment in these diverse industries will require a diverse and well skilled workforce. Oracle Academy is committed to supporting diversity in technology and increasing the participation of girls and women, and other underrepresented groups, by creating materials and programs that make computer science accessible and engaging for everyone.”

How is this a win-win? How does Oracle benefit from this work?

Hass: “Oracle is a major global technology company with products and services across every industry vertical from manufacturing to health, from government to retail, from banking and finance to transport. As such, Oracle understands the needs of these industries and our customers particularly in relation to their demand for a skilled workforce. Helping education institutions create a diverse workforce equipped with these high demand skills ultimately benefits the technology industry as it promotes innovation and expertise.”

What has been your experience working in Vietnam and with Vietnamese partners so far?

Hass: “There is tremendous energy associated with the BUILD-IT project and our interaction with partners to date has reflected this. It is very exciting to be working in Vietnam at this important time to help support the education sector in its key role in building a skilled workforce for its growing economy. We are still at the formative stages and there is much to do to determine how we can support the partners over the coming years.”

Q&A with Amazon Web Service’s Sam Harris

What will Amazon Web Services offer to educators under the BUILD-IT project?

Harris: “Amazon Web Services, as part of the BUILD-IT program, will offer opportunities for educators and students to leverage cloud computing curriculum. With cloud technology becoming the new normal across many industries including education and a huge skills gap from students leaving institutions without cloud computing skill sets, we intend to work closely with the engineering and information technology schools at BUILD-IT institutions to disseminate and drive adoption of AWS Educate.”

Tell us more about AWS Educate. What is the value for the universities?

Harris: “AWS Educate is a learning platform that gives lecturers and students access to free content on cloud computing learning pathways as well as free use of AWS cloud infrastructure to create projects and get used to cloud technology.”

It is sometimes difficult for faculty to integrate new curriculum. How will AWS provide support and training? How will you know the changes are bearing results?

Harris:As part of BUILD-IT we also offer “train-the-trainer days” for lecturers ready to start teaching AWS curriculum to their students. Additionally, we will contribute to the program by building out the understanding of business intelligence and data warehousing in an education context amongst your institutions for you to track and understand student’s behavior and results.”

Oracle Academy and Amazon Web Services will both be bringing exciting opportunities to engage lecturers from BUILD-IT partner universities over the coming months are commitment to supporting our universities in implementation. Interested faculty should watch the website for details: