Local students study at state cyber tech high school
The Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering is on the campus of Oakwood University in Huntsville.
By Wes Tomlinson
For the Enquirer
The Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering has entered its second year of existence, and two students from Morgan County are taking advantage of advanced placement classes and other opportunities the public state magnet school offers.
Serving grades nine through 12, the school has a roster of 156 students and is one of three state secondary schools. Located on the Oakwood University campus in Huntsville, the school will move next year to Cummings Research Park, about a quarter of a mile from the University of Alabama in Huntsville campus.
Originally from Hartselle, sophomore Daniel Ruhl is in his second year at the school and said his interest in cyber technology stems from his long-time passion for video games.
“Since I was very little, I’ve been a massive fan of video games,” Ruhl said. “My uncle found out about the school and showed me the website, and it kind of drew me to the school.”
Ruhl took physics last year. Freshman students can take advanced courses other public high schools offer to upperclassmen.
“Since we are an independent school from the state, we develop our own courses of study and pathways,” explained Matt Massey, the school president. “Our students start with physics, which is essentially a junior or senior level class. Everyone else in Alabama starts with biology.”
Charity Brown, a sophomore who is in her first year at the cyber tech school after coming from Austin Middle, is taking physics this year and said educators at the school are willing to tutor and advise students.
“Some things are challenging, but you can always ask for help, and they will help you,” Brown said. “Learning physics is a little bit different because you’re taking it earlier than you’re supposed to, but I think it’s really helpful, and I feel like it’s making me better and preparing me for my future early, as opposed to other kids.”
Brown said taking her first computer science class in the seventh grade opened her eyes to the growing field and led to her enrollment at the magnet school.
“I like how you can write a code and make something work or how you can fix a code to make something work,” Brown said.
Ruhl and Brown are both considering college after graduation and want to pursue a computer science-related field or bio-medical engineering.
“I like how they make robots to operate on a human just like a surgeon would,” Brown said. “I like how you can make a robot do something that a normal person couldn’t do.”
Some underclassmen at the school have taken and are currently taking college-level physics courses.
“Last year we had 11 freshmen and sophomores to actually pass the AP physics exam,” Massey said.
He said all of the freshmen at the school take AP Computer Science Principles.
The other two state public magnet schools are the Alabama School of Math and Science in Mobile and the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham. Tuition and room and board are free at all three schools.
Students can apply to the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering by going to the website, ascte.org. Under the admissions tab, students can select the option to send an official inquiry. Sending the inquiry will allow them to sign up for an admissions event.
“We also have virtual events where you can engage with us online, and then we have in-person events where you can come to our temporary campus here at Oakwood and visit with current students, faculty, staff and administrators,” said Aaron Brazelton, director of admissions and advancement. “Dec. 1, applications officially open, and folks can log into their account to submit an application.”