Mason, Amazon collaboration to deliver innovations in education and research


George Mason University and Amazon have entered into a strategic collaboration that will allow the university to better serve students, advance its commitment to a more sustainable campus environment, and introduce new educational programs in data center engineering.

STEP students on campus
Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

By leveraging technical solutions from Amazon Web Services’ cloud services, Mason will develop a unified platform to improve the process for students from community colleges to transfer into the university. The seamless process will support Mason’s commitment to access by eliminating obstacles related to enrollment and transfer, ensuring systematic barriers do not prevent student success.

Mason faculty, students, staff, and public-sector and industry partners can also expect the development of new approaches to address food insecurity, reduce the technical skills gap in data center engineering, and advance environmental priorities. In the coming years, students will be able to access these novel programs and new curriculum that will help learners pursue careers in data center engineering across the greater Washington metropolitan area, where there is an increasing need for mechanical and electrical engineering talent.

Mason is among the largest producers of tech talent in Virginia, with 40% of students majoring in STEM fields. The university is ranked No. 1 in the commonwealth and No. 9 nationally among public institutions for innovation by U.S. News and World Report.

“The diverse talent pipeline that George Mason University produces is in part what attracted Amazon to Arlington,” Mason President Gregory Washington said of the company’s construction of a headquarters in the city. “Mason’s work with Amazon will better serve the students in that pipeline as well as drive economic growth through business, government and community collaborations as Mason becomes one of the most technologically advanced, inclusive universities in the nation.”

As Mason works with Amazon Web Services to implement enhanced, high-performance computing and machine learning, it also will accelerate its research capabilities and provide new platforms for innovation, including an increased collaboration with the intelligence community to drive research and new discoveries with artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and 5G technology.

In total, this unique collaboration will deliver a secure, cloud-based environment for university, industry and government mission partners to conduct cutting-edge research.

Paul Misener in front of a Fuse rendering
"This is just the beginning of a powerful collaboration," said Amazon's Paul Misener. Photo by Ron Aira/Creative Services

"In this long-term initiative, customer services and resources from across Amazon will accelerate innovation at Virginia's largest public research university, including by helping Mason innovate and build on the vast portfolio of AWS Cloud technologies and solutions,” said Paul Misener, vice president for global innovation policy and communications at Amazon. “This is just the beginning of a powerful collaboration that not only will improve student outcomes, but also will create a more resilient, efficient, and sustainable future for the university.” 

The newly announced projects will add to an already strong collaborative effort between Mason, AWS, and Amazon to support students and innovation.

A just-completed hackathon co-hosted by Mason and Amazon, a project based out of the university’s Mason Square in Arlington, Virginia, challenged teams from U.S. and international academic institutions, companies, and other affiliations to develop innovative ideas to improve public-private collaborations against the industry-wide global challenge of counterfeiting.

Mason Square is also the future home of Mason’s Fuse building, a 345,000-square-foot facility that will open in 2025 as the flagship tech hub for digital innovation, showcasing the power of partnerships in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, connecting students, faculty, industry, and government.

Additionally, AWS’ Girls Tech Day in Northern Virginia was held at Mason’s Science and Technology Campus with the goal of inspiring girls and women to pursue careers in the technology sector. And Mason President Gregory Washington recently participated in a panel discussion, hosted by Amazon, that focused on workforce development and the future of work.

“George Mason University has proven to be a leading education institution in the nation’s capital for a number of years,” said Kim Majerus, vice president, U.S. education, state and local government at AWS. “As one of the first universities to launch a cloud computing degree program, Mason has always seen how the power of technology can help meet mission outcomes. This collaboration will be transformative in showing the positive impact technology can have on the education community across the nation, as well as advance research in cybersecurity, defense, and military intelligence for public-sector leaders.”