By Claire Aiello
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
The Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering is start- ing its second year off strong.
The school’s permanent campus is being built at the corner of Bradford and Wynn drives in Cummings Research Park, and it is taking shape by the day. It will include a four-story dormitory building, three stories of classrooms, a cafeteria, courtyard, and other living spaces.
Through the 2021-22 school year, students will be on the campus of Oakwood University. Because student enrollment has doubled, Oakwood recently renovated Peterson Hall to house additional in- coming students and opened the building in July.
“It works out well because a year from now, when the kids move to the permanent campus, Oakwood will use it as a conference center with residential spaces for campus visitors. This partnership has been beneficial to both schools – we’ve both benefited from increased interest, visibility, and enrollment,” said PeggyLee Wright, ASCTE Foundation director.
Of the students who attend ASCTE, roughly 30 percent come from all over the state and live in the dormitories. More students will be phased in each year. In year one, 2020, the school started with 50 ninth graders and 20 tenth graders. This fall, 87 new students will join the state magnet school. Next year, in 2022, the school will be on its brand new campus, with full 9-12th grade classes.
Word is spreading about ASCTE, as faculty members have worked to share word across the state. Wright said this fall, a family from Montgomery will move to Huntsville while their student attends classes. Another parent is moving up from Mobile.
In addition, 25 percent of students coming this fall are from under-resourced areas. “In many cases, they have the talent to succeed, but maybe not the opportunity. They can come here to this state-paid school and get set on a new path for a successful future,” said Wright.
Wright said corporate donors have also stepped up with support. “Leaders from across industry are showing their support at various levels allowing for the construction of our new state-of-the-art facility in Cummings Research Park,” said Wright. “The impact is three-fold – it allows us to develop a talented pipeline into higher ed and the workforce, it allows us to provide life-changing experiences for Alabama’s students, and it allows us to combat the rising, and complex challenges, that cyber attacks continue to pose across this country.”
The summer break included an opportunity for sophomores to take virtual cyber classes from J.F. Drake State Community & Technical College. Not only was it no cost for the students, they were also paid $500 to take the course. Raytheon Technologies also offered students a partnership with MIT. Sophomores could attend MIT’s Sum- mer Program virtually.
“The industry, as well as Redstone Arsenal, and nonprofits – everyone has stepped up to support this school,” said Matt Massey, ASCTE President. “Everything from Redstone Federal Credit Union supporting the building of our permanent campus, Raytheon bring- ing the kids to the Paralympics Open, Northrop Grumman bringing in a guest instructor, and many others. All of these industry partners have been amazing to get the kids involved and do things with them. It’s really opened the kids’ eyes up to DoD, commercial, government, banking, all the areas they could really get involved in.”
This article appears in the August 2021 issue of Initiatives magazine, a publication of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber.