Training the next generation of engineers

Mandy Elmore realized early in her career as an engineer that part of her responsibility to the profession was to share her love of engineering, math and science with the next generation.

She started by teaching in the University of South Carolina’s summer program Project Lead the Way, which trains hundreds of educators from across the country to better teach science, technology, engineering and math courses.

“I became convinced while I was working in manufacturing and as an engineer that if people who were excited about, math, science, engineering — all those things — if we didn't teach that and pour that into the next generation, we were going to face some real challenges,” Elmore says. “So I put my money where my mouth was and went into education.”

She left a lucrative job working in manufacturing to work at the community college level. Now she is dean for the Engineering and Industrial Technology Division at Tri-County Technical College, working to prepare students for a career in manufacturing and industry.

“We have students working in the Upstate, across the state and the world,” she says. “But most of our students go to work or open their own businesses in the Upstate.”

To further her work in academia, Elmore returned to the University of South Carolina, where she earned bachelor’s (1994) and master’s (1997) degrees in engineering, for a doctoral-level certificate in higher education (2019). She also plans to complete a Ph.D. in education leadership at South Carolina.

Elmore hadn’t yet completed her bachelor’s degree when a faculty member suggested graduate school at a time when the university’s College of Engineering and Computing was one of the few powerhouse research institutions in the field of hydrogen fuel cells.

“He told me I had the ability to get a doctorate, that I would be an asset to the program and that I would be able to participate in leading-edge research and really contribute to the knowledge and application of a lot of different things, specifically fuel cells,” she says.

In graduate school, Elmore saw the world from the varied perspectives of classmates and got to work closely with faculty and mentors — an experience she hopes to bring to students in her division at Tri-County Technical College.

“The real standout in grad school was the diversity of people that you got to have very close relationships with and who had different life experiences,” she says. “Also, there was the depth of the relationships you built with the faculty members. I built lifelong relationships with folks that have continued to be supportive and encouraging to me throughout my career.”

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