SMDC signs education partnership agreement with local STEM high school

By Ayumi Davis, USASMDCFebruary 16, 2024

Matt Massey and Richard De Fatta
Richard De Fatta (right), deputy to the commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, and Matt Massey, president of the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering, sign an education partnership agreement at the school on Feb. 15, 2024, in Huntsville, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Ayumi Davis) VIEW ORIGINAL

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command signed an agreement with the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering to help educate and recruit the next generation of scientists, mathematicians, cyber experts and engineers.

Richard De Fatta, USASMDC’s deputy to the commanding general, and Matt Massey, president of the ASCTE, signed the education partnership agreement at the high school on Feb. 15. The document seeks to encourage student interest in science, mathematics, technology, cybersecurity technology and engineering.

Dr. Rosemary Hodges, ASCTE dean of teacher and student learning, said USASMDC and ASCTE began working toward this agreement after De Fatta visited the school in 2022.

“He toured around the school and was impressed with the things that we were doing,” Hodges said. “At the end of that tour, he made sure that this partnership would come to fruition.” The agreement was finalized in October 2023.

Massey said this agreement strengthens the partnership between the two organizations.

“I just appreciate the confidence and the vision that you and your team have, Mr. De Fatta, in what the students are capable of because they are the talent,” Massey said. “They’re going to learn skills and have experiences that no other school in the nation, no other students in the nation, have had the chance to do.”

Under the agreement, USASMDC can loan scientific equipment to the school, provide guest speakers, teach science, cybersecurity or engineering courses, assist in the development of science courses, assist in developing a program where students can receive academic credit for work on USASMDC research projects, and provide academic and career advice to students.

De Fatta said this is the first EPA the command has had with the high school, which is now in its fourth year of operation.

De Fatta said he did not know in high school what he wanted to do for a career and could not have charted the path that got him to where he is now. He said that there are many opportunities for students as smart as they are.

“I applaud you for being here now and understanding that you want to pursue science and engineering and technology development. That’s super important,” De Fatta said. “But again, there’s a lot of places you can go with those skills. Some of those are in the civilian world, but government, believe it or not, champions and funds – in many cases – high technology capability here, in all the universities and other places. So, it’s just something to consider.”

Those in the industry rely on the kinds of skills the students are learning, De Fatta said.

“We’re talking about being a partner with universities and other places, and I look at the agreement. The agreement says, ‘SMDC and partner.’ I see this as maybe just to be ‘partner and partner’ because this is a two-way street,” De Fatta said. “We’re not just providing some resources to you. We are hoping to garner things from you in this partnership.”