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“It’s wonderful to see students grow in their knowledge of this emerging field.” — Judy Gill

Judy Gill, director of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations and associate professor of mathematics, was honored by the Faculty Senate with the Faculty Special Achievement award for her development of the Drone Pilot Program at TCC.

Gill, who joined the college full-time in 2004 teaches UAS and developmental and college-level math. “I am honored to be recognized by my peers with this award,” she said. “It means a great deal to me.”  

Gill was motivated to start the drone program at the college because she had always been passionate about new technology. She saw UAS or drones growing in popularity and becoming an indispensable tool in many industries. She wanted to find a way to help meet the country’s growing need for drone operators.

Gill began teaching drone classes at TCC during Fall Semester of 2022. The full program will be up and running in 2024.

“TCC’s drone classes provide students with a place to utilize their creativity while gaining knowledge in a subject they are enthusiastic about,” said Gill. “It is wonderful to see students grow in their skills and knowledge of this emerging field.

Gill earned her Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 UAS Pilot License and began training to teach drone operations in 2018. She was one of the first faculty in the Virginia Community College system to participate in the Geospatial Technician Education-Unmanned Aircraft Systems Institute at Virginia Tech. The program was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, administered by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium. 

During the program, she learned to plan missions, fly drones, collect data, and maintain Unmanned Aircraft Systems. 

Through TCC’s hands-on program, students will learn how to plan missions and fly drones as well as gain the knowledge necessary to obtain their FAA Part 107 UAS pilot license. In addition to the skills necessary for operating drones, Gill finds that her students learn interpersonal communication skills and how to collaborate with a team to accomplish goals.

Gill’s passion for drones extends outside of the classroom. She enjoys attending drone light shows when they come to the Hampton Roads area. These displays feature 200-300 drones flying in formation while displaying colorful lights with accompanying music. She also enjoys flying drones for fun and learning about drones both in a recreational and educational setting.

A Virginia Beach resident, Gill holds a master’s in computational and applied mathematics from Old Dominion University and a bachelor’s in mathematics with a concentration in economics from Christopher Newport University. When she is not flying drones, Gill enjoys spending time with her family and pets, going to the beach, and playing pickleball.