I Am ATE: Mandy Briggs

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Name: Mandy Briggs

Title: Assistant Chief Flight Instructor / PI for UCID project

Institution: Parkland College

Project/Center Name: UCID-UAS Curriculum for Industry Demand

URL: https://aviation.parkland.edu/EXPLORE/National-Science-Foundation

ATE Central: How did you become involved with ATE?  

Briggs: I first started with ATE in 2017 as a co-PI for another ATE grant, the PACE project. One of the goals of the PACE project was updating the curriculum for Parkland's precision agriculture program. As the co-PI, I helped implement the use of drones in existing curriculum for the agriculture department. Seeing the need for additional training in our region, this lead to a second grant application with ATE, the UCID project, to create a UAS program at Parkland College. I currently serve as the PI for the UCID project.       

ATE Central: Tell us about the goals of your project/center.  

Briggs: The UCID project has three primary goals. The first goal is to create new UAS courses and credentials to meet industry demand in Central Illinois. We have successfully created three new courses and two new certificates. Promoting the recruitment of minorities for the Parkland UAS program is our second goal. Through targeted marketing and recruitment, female enrollment is increasing in our program. Our third goal is to connect Parkland’s UAS program to area high schools along with universities offering UAS degrees. To connect with area high schools, we have offered training events to high school teachers to help them implement drones in their classrooms as well as workshops for guidance counselors about our program and career opportunities. We are currently pursuing articulation agreements with several universities to offer our students a path for a four-year degree.   

Photograph of Mandy Briggs.

Photograph of Mandy Briggs.

ATE Central: What makes the work of your project/center unique?  

Briggs: Our project is unique in that we were the first community college in our state to offer both credit classes and certificates in the area of UAS. The drone industry is rapidly evolving and we are excited to be one of the early programs in our region. Our students are able to obtain training that they wouldn't be able to receive elsewhere, making them more marketable to future employers.  

ATE Central: What are some of the most valuable partnerships you've engaged in as part of your ATE related work?

Briggs: The support of the ATE program and our partners has been invaluable to the success of our program. Through ATE we've been able to obtain crucial educational partners that have helped us in so many ways, including developing our curriculum, determining equipment needs, and providing advice on classroom implementation. Our industry partners have willingly joined our advisory board and have been instrumental in providing overall direction of our program as well as providing internship opportunities to our students and engaging with them in a classroom setting.   

ATE Central: Do you have a favorite student success story you’d like to share?  

Briggs: One of the first students to complete both of our UAS certificates is a student named Paul. He was working in the restaurant industry, but was looking to make a career change. Paul was already a hobbyist drone pilot and was looking to pursue it professionally so he enrolled in our program. He successfully completed both certificates and was then hired for an internship in the drone industry. At the end of his internship, he was then offered full time employment. If he's not busy enough, he is also currently working for our drone program as a classroom assistant, passing down the experience he has already gained. It's extremely motivating for our current students to be able to see someone that has gone through the same program and come out successful!   

ATE Central: What’s your favorite way to spend the weekend?  

Briggs: Spending as much time outdoors with my kids and husband as possible. We enjoy boating, biking and hiking. I'll also go fishing as long as I don't have to touch the worms or the fish!

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