July 16, 2009


Faculty Tour Redstone Arsenal and HudsonAlpha

Northeast Alabama Community College faculty recently toured Redstone Arsenal and HudsonAlpha in Huntsville and gained new perspectives on high-demand careers and information to encourage students to obtain job skills in those careers. Sharee Miller of the U. S. Army Garrison conducted the tour of Redstone which included a bus trip through the 38,000 acre Arsenal that has over 12 million square feet of building space with its own fire department, police, public works, parks and other amenities that makes it a city in itself. Currently, there are 32,000 employees who work on Redstone and there will be over 36,000 when the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) initiative is complete.

The 27 NACC faculty members learned that many jobs will be with government contractors and will include machining and welding. Dr. Joe Burke, Vice President/Dean of Instruction and organizer of this professional development event, stated that “Northeast is well-positioned to train and educate students for these jobs with our Industrial Systems Technology program beginning this fall semester.” Department of Defense (DoD) civilian occupations include Logistics Management, Administrative, Management, Budget Analysts, Engineering and Architecture. Burke continued, “We also offer the first two years of a four-year degree that these Department of Defense occupations require.”

Greg Millican, Chair of the Division of Mathematics, found it interesting to see how much Redstone Arsenal has grown over the past few years. “With several of our graduates employed at the Arsenal and in the Huntsville area, it appears that job opportunities in engineering and science will continue to be in high demand in the foreseeable future,” he said. “Students who successfully complete the calculus and physics courses at Northeast are well-prepared to complete their four-year degree and enter these occupations.”

”This was an excellent professional development opportunity for our faculty and staff,” stated Dr. David Campbell, NACC President. “We want to be on the cutting edge when it comes to new and emerging technologies and workforce jobs. Contact with the HudsonAlpha Institute and the Redstone Arsenel helps us achieve this goal. We actually began to think about this type of professional development with the discussion that has been going on locally concerning the BRAC relocation and jobs that will be available as a result of this. Of course, many new type jobs, especially in health and science fields, also are emerging as a result of the type of research and work that is being done at the HudsonAlpha Institute. Our faculty and staff are now better equipped to lead students into the new workplace world as a result of this type of professional development.”

Dr. Neil Lamb, Director of Educational Outreach at HudsonAlpha, explained to Northeast faculty that the company’s purpose is to “use biotechnology to improve human health, stimulate economic development and inspire Alabama’s youth to seek careers in science.” Current projects at HudsonAlpha include developing tests for the H1N1 virus and exploring the genome of the sorghum plant to enhance its use as a biofuel. Not only is HudsonAlpha involved in research but the same facility houses companies that focus on marketing the various scientific advances. Career opportunities are available in the biotechnology fields and HudsonAlpha staff emphasized the need to encourage junior high and high school students to strongly consider college majors and occupations in the sciences.

Dr. Cindy Jones, Director of Nursing Education at NACC, added, “At the Hudson Alpha Institute, scientific research is ongoing in search of diagnostic tools and treatment plans for various diseases for patients in our area as well as world wide. Hudson Alpha is becoming an icon for Huntsville, Alabama as MD Anderson Cancer Center is for Texas or Johns Hopkins is for Maryland.”

For more information about attending Northeast, contact the Admissions Office at phone ext. 325 or visit the Admissions webpage.

Pictured is HudsonAlpha located in Huntsville, one of the sites visited by NACC faculty.

(Photo provided by Holly McClain/HudsonAlpha)