HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A new semester began Monday at J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College. There's a new acting president and a renewed focus on excellence.
Students have plenty of options to propel them into their dream job, including students still in high school.
"We have one of the only two satellite tracking stations in America that tracks the four-inch CubeSat 55 -- the little miniature satellites," said Dr. John Reutter, Drake State's acting president. "We're going to be able to produce circuit boards using the 3D printing that goes inside the satellites."
Dr. Reutter has so many things to talk about because there's been so much happening.
"We just sent a teacher and two students to San Diego, California this year to attend the annual NSA, National Security Agency Cyber Security Conference."
Within the last week, the college also secured an important NASA grant.
"We have received $500,000 to scholarship our students to go into four-year summer programs as Drake students, so we're very excited about that," said Dr. Reutter.
Another thing to be excited about -- this fall marks the start of a dual enrollment program for students in Huntsville, Madison and Madison County Schools, where sophomores take classes and have the opportunity to graduate with a high school diploma and a two-year associate's degree.
Even though former president Dr. Helen McAlpine is at Gadsden State Community College as the interim president for the next year, that's not changing the momentum at Drake State.
"She has incredible vision for Huntsville and for this college and I 100 percent subscribe to that vision," said Dr. Reutter.
"My job is to keep my foot on the accelerator," he added. "We've been making tremendous progress in the last three or four years in particular and I want to keep us on that same trajectory."
Enrollment at drake state grew by eight percent in 2013. Officials are still waiting for the exact numbers for this fall semester.
For students with long term plans, Drake State's accreditation status allows students to transfer seamlessly to colleges and universities anywhere in the U.S.