The Frontiers Research Program at Drake State Community & Technical College received $315,000 in state funding thanks to the efforts and support of the Madison County Legislative Delegation. The money will be used toward the purchase of equipment and technology that will help the college continue its research in additive manufacturing for NASA’s Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technology Project (MMPACT). The research is also expected to lead to innovation and curriculum development that will benefit construction and advanced manufacturing industries in North Alabama and beyond.
“We’re doing exciting and important work at Drake State that will benefit our students, employers and the community,” said Drake State President Dr. Patricia Sims. “To have the support of our local legislators and the State of Alabama is truly meaningful and it will help us maximize the positive impact we’re creating.”
The college’s research program, called Frontiers, was established in September 2020 after Drake State became the first and only Historically Black Community College (HBCU) to receive a cooperative agreement from NASA's Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP). The cooperative agreement calls for specific research related to processes and materials used in large-scale 3D printing of structures.
The Frontiers team consists of faculty and student interns from the college’s Engineering Design program. In May 2021 the first cohort of Frontiers student interns graduated with associate degrees in Advanced Manufacturing – Engineering Design. Both students are planning to attend four-year universities this fall to pursue engineering careers.
“The Frontiers program and other partnerships with local and regional industries create unique and rewarding opportunities for our students,” said Sims. “We’re grateful for the Madison County Legislative Delegation and our industry partners like NASA and Jacobs that understand the importance of investing in our college and our students.”