Cal Poly and Amazon Web Services (AWS) – a subsidiary of Amazon focused on cloud computing platforms – recently teamed up to form the Digital Transformation Hub (DT-Hub), intended to solve the world’s problems through innovative technology.
Located in the tech park, the DT-Hub is the first and only university-based cloud innovation center to have a technological partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS).
According to their website, AWS is a cloud services provider that helps businesses transition their data from on-premise data centers to cloud systems. Cal Poly and Amazon first developed a working relationship when Cal Poly administrators were searching for the right system to transfer their data to a cloud platform.
Since its opening Oct. 19, Interim Director for Industry Outreach for the California Cyber Training Complex James Baker has been planning the intent of the DT-Hub.
“Our goal is to improve the human condition with technology,” Baker said.
One of the first challenges they will address involves analyzing data to end human trafficking. The DT-Hub is working with a company called Polaris to break human trafficking rings in San Luis Obispo.
Before the DT-Hub begins solving more problems like this, AWS will work to hire three full-time employees to be on campus for five years.
“By teaming up with Amazon Web Services, Amazon is teaching us how the innovation Amazon process works,” Jurasin said. “They have a process that they use to solve problems and we can bring that methodology back to Cal Poly to help us solve future problems for our clients.”
The DT-Hub plans to use these innovative processes to solve problems for nonprofits, government entities and public schools.
“The Digital Transformation Hub is focused on helping public sectors because they don’t always have the same means or resources to solve problems like private institutions do,” Cal Poly Communications Specialist Amy Schwartz said.
These groups will present their issues to the Digital Transformation Hub and a steering committee of college representatives will decide if their problem can be solved in a 10-week period.
“The challenges don’t need to be technology challenges, they can be social challenges that have a technology component for the solution,” Jurasin said.
Once the team has chosen a project, they will gather a group of experts to develop a solution. These experts may be representatives from local law enforcement, the CSU system or state or local government who are knowledgeable on a given topic.
“As we look for a solution, we get the opinion from all of those people that may have a stake in the solution,” Jurasin said. “It does no good to come up with a solution, but then not be able to use that solution in a court case.”
Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Executive Director Tod Nelson, one of the original 10 Amazon employees, discussed the importance of the relationship with Amazon for the students.
“When I was at Amazon, we used to build things and break things all the time. I think some of that culture still remains,” Nelson said. “We always encourage to innovate, create and build, but make mistakes along the way. But learn from those mistakes and move on.”
A previous version of this article identified James Baker as the Interim Director for Industry Outreach for the Cybersecurity Training Complex. This has been updated to to identify him as Interim Director for Industry Outreach of the California Cyber Training Complex.
A previous version of this article stated that the DT-Hub will have a representative from each college. This has been removed.
A previous version of this article stated that politicians and professors would be among the experts who help the DT-Hub teams to develop a solution. This has been changed to representatives from state and local government and the CSU system.
A previous version of this article stated that Cal Poly partnered with Amazon. This has been changed to reflect Cal Poly’s partnership with Amazon Web Services, a subsidiary of Amazon focused specifically on cloud computing services.
A previous version of this article stated that Paul Jurasin was working with AWS to hire three full-time employees. This has been changed to say AWS alone is working to hire the employees.
A previous version of this article stated that Paul Jurasin, AWS and student interns would determine the challenge the team would take on. This has been changed to state that a steering committee of college representatives will decide on challenge acceptance.