University students across the country have been taking part in the AWS Educate Challenge, an inter-university initiative where students from UK and Ireland build cloud computing skills and compete for a chance to win prizes.

We’re delighted to announce that this year’s top prize winners in the UK and Ireland are Melina Dimitrova and Fangbo Li respectively – we caught up with them to hear about their experience, and what it means to win.

In total, there were 60 student winners across the UK and Ireland with runners-up receiving Amazon vouchers, an Alexa device, an invitation to meet with Amazon student recruiters in London and Dublin, plus training on how to stand out as a job applicant.

The AWS Educate Challenge was an unmissable opportunity… it broadened the potential of my career pathway.
Fangbo Li, Dublin-based student and AWS Educate Challenge winner

The challenge awarded students prizes according to the number of AWS Educate Cloud Career Pathways and Badges they completed, and is part of Amazon’s global initiative to provide students with the resources they need to accelerate cloud-related learning.

AWS Educate is a programme that provides students with content and resources to build skills in cloud computing. Students have the opportunity to earn digital credentials upon completion of the AWS Educate Cloud Career Pathways which are based on in-demand skills such as Website and App Development, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cyber Security and more.

Each specialised badge features bite-sized learning opportunities to expand your cloud skillset, including: AWS DeepLens, a fully programmable video camera to expand deep learning knowledge and skills; AWS RoboMaker, to develop, test and deploy intelligent robotic applications at scale; plus Gaming, to learn how to build a game environment, design a character and more.

Prizes were awarded to the students with the most points and include Amazon vouchers, Alexa devices and an exclusive invitation to virtually meet Amazon student recruiters. The top 10 universities with the highest number of student points received a trophy, and our winners also received resume and interview preparation insights from Amazon recruiters.

Melina Dimitrova, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen

Our UK winner is undergraduate student Melina, who is in the final year of studying Computer Science at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.

Melina Dimitrova
Melina Dimitrova, Computer Science student at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.

AWS Educate provides learning opportunities on a wide range of subjects at varying levels, which Melina says helped her both refresh and expand her computer science knowledge: “The range of subjects really helped me to build key skills in different spheres. As someone with an extended background in computing, it was a great way to refresh my knowledge but also expand it, in particular cloud computing which is an essential part of modern technological development.”

The Challenge also helped Melina to see cloud computing as a potential career option: “I had the opportunity for the first time to work with so many AWS services and tools. I wasn’t that familiar with cloud computing before, but I was able to build knowledge and see how fast cloud services are growing. It enabled me to realise how important it is, and the numerous applications cloud computing has. I now realise that cloud computing is a serious option for my future career plans.”

Taking part also catered to Melina’s creative side: “I work on graphic design as a hobby and one of the badges I found most intriguing was Amazon Sumerian. I had the opportunity to explore tools for creating high-quality virtual reality experiences and to interact with 3D graphics.”

Although she worked hard to complete as many of the courses as possible while studying, Melina was still surprised and delighted to win the competition: “The prizes themselves are a great addition, especially the opportunity to attend a meeting with Amazon employees and recruiters.”

“It was an invaluable experience to learn from,” she adds. “I won not just for myself, but for my university too. I was also able to help them place in the top ten universities in the UK for the competition. Beyond the prizes, the challenge gave me so much new knowledge and experience and I’m so happy to have participated.”

Fangbo Li, CCT College, Dublin

Our Ireland winner is Fangbo Li, studying IT at CCT College Dublin.

Fangbo Li standing in front of a coastal view
Fangbo Li, IT student at CCT College Dublin.

Fangbo felt he couldn’t miss the opportunity to upskill on the fundamentals of AWS cloud computing: “As an IT student with an electrical engineering background, I started with the Internet of Things and RoboMaker badges because I was really into these subjects. After that, I explored more pathways than I imagined. Machine learning was one of my favourites and I’m planning to do a final year project in this too.”

Just like Melina, Fangbo said the challenge impacted his perspective on choosing a career path: “Nowadays, going serverless is a crucial part of businesses. I think the AWS Educate Challenge was an unmissable opportunity and I embraced all of it. Through interacting with the wide range of independent learning resources, I found it easy to upskill in the fundamentals of AWS.”

“AWS Educate has broadened the potential of my career pathway,” he adds. “The experience gave me confidence that I’ll find a job that I’ll really enjoy and appreciate. This prize has given me huge encouragement and that motivates me to keep moving forward.”

Accelerating cloud computing skills

AWS Educate is used in more than 200 countries and territories. It connects 2,400 institutions, over 10,000 educators, and hundreds of thousands of students.

Through AWS Educate, students and educators have access to content and programs developed to skill up for cloud careers in growing fields. AWS Educate also connects companies hiring for cloud skills to qualified student job seekers with the AWS Educate Job Board.

Students can sign up for a no-cost AWS Educate account, then decide to enrol in Cloud Career Pathways and badges to learn essential skills in cloud computing. Each Pathway, aligned to in-demand job roles such as Machine Learning Scientist and Application Developer, includes 25 to 50 hours of self-paced content. All students receive a digital credential in their portfolio after completing the pathway.

Find out more about AWS Educate today.