Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud-based platform offering a wide range of different services. Some of the most common AWS services used in research computing include: data storage solutions, databases, high-performance computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

At Washington and Lee University, we currently have several AWS options:

AWS Free Tier

Anyone can obtain their own personal AWS account. You will need to enter a credit-card to cover any accumulated charges. However, there are a large number of services that you can run for free as part of the AWS Free Tier:

They divide their free products into three groups: Free Trials, 12 Months Free and Always Free. The free trials are short-term offers that start when you first activate a particular service. 12 Months Free offers are services that you can use for free during the first 12-month period of your account creation. Always Free are services that will remain free with no expiration. We recommend using Free Tier resources to begin learning the AWS environment. There are great tutorials available for AWS here:

You can search for Free Tier tutorials, which will use only resources within the Free Tier as part of the tutorial.

AWS Academy

Washington and Lee University participates in the AWS Academy program:

If you are a faculty member that is interested in working with AWS Academy, please contact our designated central point of contact, Tom Marcais at

AWS Academy offers courses and learning resources that enable faculty to work with students developing a range of skills in the AWS cloud. There are two main types of content, pre-developed courses and Learner Labs.

AWS Academy Pre-Developed Courses:
AWS Academy has developed a large collection of courses that are specifically designed to help students learn how to utilize their platforms. Topics include cloud computing, application development, IT infrastructure architecture, cloud operations, machine learning, data analytics and data centers. Faculty can immediately begin teaching courses in Cloud Foundations and Machine Learning Foundations. To teach higher-level Associate Level courses, faculty must earn AWS Academy educator accreditation by obtaining an AWS certification relevant to the course and passing a technical validation. Faculty can receive complimentary training and professional development as they pursue AWS Certification and AWS Academy accreditation. As an AWS Academy member, faculty can take the certification exams at a 50% discount.

AWS Academy Learner Labs
For a more customizable environment, faculty can create their own classes in the Learner Labs. These are long-running hands-on lab environments where educators can bring their own assignments and invite their students to get experience using select AWS Services.

What can you do with AWS Academy Learner Labs?

  • Create a class for your students
  • Invite your students
  • Assign your own projects
  • View a student’s workspace
  • View analytics including time and money spent

Each student in the Learner Lab environment will have $100 worth of credit to utilize throughout the course. This amount cannot be modified.

AWS Educate

AWS Educate is designed as a one-stop location to build your AWS skills. Any individual can register for an Educate account at:

AWS Educate will provide you access to the following resources:

  • Ramp-up Guides: A variety of resources to help you build your skills and knowledge of the AWS Cloud. Each guide features carefully selected digital training, classroom courses, videos, whitepapers, certifications, and more.
  • Learn on Twitch: AWS offers free live and on-demand training on Twitch. You can join experts for live shows to ask questions, chat with the community, and get weekly resources straight to your inbox. You can also access their on-demand shows for training whenever it suits your schedule.
  • AWS Skill Builder: Skill Builder offers many free learning plans and 500+ digital courses. One of their newest offerings is the Cloud Quest Skills Practitioner course, which is a game-based role-playing experience teaching foundational cloud computing concepts while learners zap drones and collect gems in their quest to solve challenges in a virtual city. In addition to their large selection of self-paced free training material, there are also paid instructor-led classroom training sessions available. You can also sign up for certifications exams through Skill Builder.

WLU-Hosted AWS

Our ITS department can create AWS enterprise accounts provisioned with access rights to the specific services needed to meet particular research needs. Individuals or groups can be assigned to these accounts as requested. When requesting the creation of an account, we will need you to provide a funding source. Any associated fees generated through the usage of this account is the responsibility of the department/individual requesting the account. ITS is available to consult with to provide estimates on what costs might be involved with specific projects. Depending on the type of work being conducted, it may be possible for ITS to request credits from Amazon to help cover some of the expenses.

How do I get started?

Contact Tom Marcais, our Senior Technology Integration Specialist at with the scope of your research or teaching needs. He will help guide you through the process to determine which AWS environment will best fit your needs.