Shelby D’andre Avant is living a dream.
Avant, 28, graduated from Fort Valley State University’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology in May 2019 with a degree in electronic engineering technology (EET). He works at Northrup Grumman Corporation in Warner Robins as an electronic maintenance technician.
“It has always been a dream of mine to start a career in electronics. At one time, I did not know how to get started or what an engineering career would consist of, but I’m glad I made the decision,” Avant said. “I have worked here for 16 months, and I am on the path to become an electrical engineer.”
Avant’s work with electronics is used by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) in its electronic weapons program. He said working for the USAF gives him a great deal of accomplishment and pride.
His father (James Avant) served 22 years in the U.S. Army, and he has many relatives and friends who are veterans. “It makes me feel great to know that I could help them even as a civilian,” Avant said.
The Roberta, Georgia, native grew up on a 7-acre farm. “My dad raised many farm animals including cows, horses, hogs, chicken, goats and even an emu and ostrich at one point,” Avant said. His father also grew corn on 2.5 acres of the land.
By watching his father and grandfather (Calvin Weaver) farm the land as a youth, Avant received the inspiration to pursue an agricultural profession. “I wanted to honor them with my career choice,” he said.
Before attending FVSU, Avant earned an associate degree in electronics technology from Central Georgia Technical College. He decided to attend FVSU after watching his wife, Tykeya Turner, graduate from the university in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
While a student at FVSU, Avant said he enjoyed the challenge of studying EET. He also felt at ease in seeking information from his instructors. “I never felt I could not seek assistance from the teachers, instructors or guidance counselors. I thank them all for that,” Avant said.
As a full-time employee at Academy Sports and a full-time student, Avant’s time to participate in extracurricular activities was extremely limited. He did join the (EET) Club and participated in the organization’s activities when possible.
Furthermore, Avant said FVSU prepared him for his job at Northrup Grumman. “I am pleased with the knowledge I was able to bring to my employer. During my interview, they were blown away with how I was able to answer questions on electronic principles off the top of my head. I believe this ultimately led to my employment,” the FVSU alumnus said.
The Northrup-Grumman employee provides simple advice to future students seeking engineering degrees. “Study every day and get comfortable with rewriting your notes multiple times. This major is constantly changing, but the underlying principles of engineering will remain the same. The student will need to get really familiar with knowing and applying formulas,” Avant said.
For students seeking successful careers in agriculture, Avant advises students to strive for perfection in their craft. “Look for opportunities to grow in your field of study while in school, and don’t be afraid to seek advice from people who have done it before you,” he said.
Avant’s plans include enrolling at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and earning a master’s degree in autonomous systems engineering. He also seeks to pursue a professional career in unmanned vehicles and artificial intelligence.