Cyber technology school leaders, students react to Huntsville being named top emerging tech market

WAFF's Sean Dowling reporting
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 9:00 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Rocket City recently shot straight to the top of a national list with a big distinction.

Huntsville has been named as the top emerging tech market in the country.

School officials at the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering or ASCTE say it isn’t too surprising that Huntsville was awarded the top honor based on all of the tech companies calling the Rocket City home.

Whether it’s Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, or the expansion of Meta, The Rocket City can provide meaningful jobs in the tech industry, with over 23,000 jobs in the tech market in 2022. And the pay isn’t bad, either!

Average tech wages in the same year came in at close to $97,000. Take it from global investment firm, CBRE Group.

The report focused on lesser-known markets in North America, so companies can pick from these talent pools or expand their reach.

At ASCTE, the Director of Admissions, Aaron Brazelton says the school uses cyber and technology in all classes. But they don’t just focus on serious stuff like hacking and cybercrime. Brazelton explains a time when one student did not have a tie ahead of an important partnership and signing an agreement with NASA, but that didn’t stop him.

“So he designed it on the computer that we gave him in his C.A.D. software, Computer Aid and Design. And then he went overnight and printed it in out on one of our 3D printers. And then wore it to the press conference the next day. Our kids are focused on some pretty rigorous and deep studies of cyber and engineering, it’s fun to see them also have fun with those concepts as well. It was definitely fashionable. It looked great,” Brazelton said.

The school official adds their students get accepted all over the country, getting top tech jobs once they graduate, but if he had it his way, they would all stay here in Alabama.

Students at ASCTE say they’re busy learning the ins and outs of cyber technology with hacking drills and classes focusing on STEM learning.

As for the very real cyber threats companies face, student Audrey Oberle explains this sector needs to beef up security measures!

“The one that scares me the most is hospitals because they’ve got a lot of private information and that kind of information needs to be very heavily protected,” Oberle said. “But because they’re so heavily protected and understaffed and overworked, those cyber policies don’t get to change very fast. Hospitals are one of the most at-risk places”.

Oberle says the best thing hospitals can do to protect themselves from being hacked is to change legacy systems.

The report comes ahead of the National Cyber Summit happening in Huntsville on September 20-21, 2023.

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