Morgan Teams Sweep AWS’ HBCU Business Case Competition
MSU Computer Science Students Secure Top Three Places in Amazon Web Services Competition Earning Cash Prize and Matching Contribution from University Department
This fall, Amazon Web Services (AWS) held its first-ever HBCU Business Case Competition at the company’s HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia, inviting the region’s top Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to participate in a unique educational opportunity rooted in real-world business challenges centered on the “industrial cloud.” In the end, two universities entered; only one emerged victorious.
Representing Morgan State University (MSU), four student teams from the School of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences’ Department of Computer Science made the trek to northern Virginia. Fellow Maryland HBCU, Bowie State University fielded the remaining teams in the competition. For the participants, the fiercely competitive contest challenged their technical ingenuity, computer proficiency and business knowledge, as they collaborated to develop a plausible business plan for a real-world AWS customer — the Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations LLC plant — to implement an “industrial internet of things” (IIoT) system. Once implemented, this hypothetical system would enable the Volkswagen plant to identify potential supply chain cyber threats and devise a countermeasure plan leveraging AWS.
“Early this year, AWS recognized the opportunity to create a unique educational experience for college students by embedding AWS champions at the center of higher education institutions, working side by side with the faculty and students on real world business problems,” said Jon Allen, director, ProServe at AWS. “Beyond showing our commitment to educating the next generation of talent, AWS is also underscoring its commitment to Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. This unique opportunity focuses on diverse campuses, such as HBCU’s, Minority Serving Institutions, and military academies across the nation, giving access to real world business scenarios in cloud computing technology.”
The judging was rigorous; the scoring, comprehensive; and the presentations, fast paced. At the conclusion of the case competition, Morgan emerged triumphant having three of its four teams take first, second and third place for the university.
First place honors went to MSU’s Team Qloud Clan, consisting of Advanced Computing graduate students Ankita Rijal, Blessing Adeika, Joseph Aina and Oluwatunmise Akinniyi. Second and third place went to teams composed of undergraduate Computer Science majors: Team Clear, which included Dimitri Watat, Efosa Isujeh, Ogo-Oluwasubomi Popoola, Martin Adu-Boahene and Abisola Arowolaju, came in second, and Team Cloud Bears, consisting of Godsheritage Adeoye, Daniel Oluwarotimi, Isaiah Scott and Aramide Ogundiran, earned third place.
An added bonus to their achievement came by way of Morgan’s Computer Science Department. With many of the participating students from Morgan either being first generation college students and/or working several jobs to support their education, the Department decided to match their prize award. Each student will now receive double the cash award they receive from AWS.
To assist in preparing the students for the case competition, Computer Science Chair Shuangbao (“Paul”) Wang, Ph.D., and newly appointed Cloud Computing Program Director Radhouane Chouchane, Ph.D., produced an in-depth white paper on identifying cyber threats. The information contained in the paper, coupled with what the students had learned in the classroom in the areas of cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and machine learning, mobile computing, internet of things (IoT) and quantum computing, placed Morgan’s teams in an excellent position to be top contenders in the competition.
“Morgan’s performance in the competition is a testament to the department’s ability to prepare our students for success beyond the classroom,” said Dr. Wang. “To have a sweeping win shows the strength of our students, faculty and cutting-edge programs. It is also reflective of Morgan’s mission to provide the best educational opportunities for all students, especially underrepresented minority students.”
AWS hosted the HBCU Business Case Competition, in support of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity. The competition is one of many programs initiated by AWS as part of the company’s commitment to provide access to cloud computing and technical skills training to everyone. For example, collaborative initiatives with education, through programs AWS Academy, provide higher education institutions with free, ready-to-teach cloud computing curriculum that prepares students to pursue industry-recognized certifications and in-demand cloud skills.
Congratulations to the Department of Computer Science and Teams Qloud Clan, Clear and Cloud Bears for superbly demonstrating Morgan’s Core Values of Leadership, Innovation and Excellence. The University community looks forward to their continued success and the great things to come.