IT at the Faculty of Engineering evolving to meet community needs

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Information Technology

By Lucien Levreault

IT Director, Faculty of Engineering

IT - picture of computer

As part of a strategic partnership with the Egyptian government to train the next generation of Egyptian engineers in digital technologies, the Faculty of Engineering required infrastructure resources in a short period of time to support the instruction of 300 students. Areas of study included cybersecurity and cloud analytics.

There were concerns about the potential impact of using University infrastructure to teach these courses. The required processing power, storage needs and, more importantly, IT security concerns could place the University at risk. This meant that external resources would have to be used.

Due to a tight timeline, solutions were required that could be implemented quickly and learned easily. Enter Microsoft Azure Lab Services.

Azure Lab Services offers an easy setup and provision of on-demand access to preconfigured virtual machines (VMs) to support different scenarios including teaching a class, training professionals, running a hackathon or a hands-on lab. Users access all their lab VMs from a single place and can be scaled to hundreds of VMs with a single click, and the service manages all the underlying infrastructures. With the University utilizing Microsoft 365 to implement Azure Lab Services, it offered the best guarantee of meeting the Faculty’s timeline.

The first course for which Azure Lab Services was used was Cybersecurity (SEC5100) in fall 2021. The use of Azure Lab Services was so successful that the course was offered again in the winter term. This summer, the environment will also be used for a Cloud Data Analytics course.