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Diamond Cottman

Diamond Cottman poses in front of a bridge she helped engineer

Diamond Cottman

Title: Aviation Engineer, Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc.

STLCC Program: Engineering Science

Years Attended: 2015–2018

An associate degree in engineering opens the door to various career pathways and the opportunity to step into the workforce or transfer to a four-year university—just like Diamond did when she pursued her bachelor's after STLCC. Now, she's transforming the community by designing and building airports.

Q&A with Diamond

Q: When did you take classes at St. Louis Community College? 

A: I started classes in the fall of 2015 and graduated in the spring of 2018 with an associate in engineering science.

Q: What are you doing career-wise now, and what does your position entail?

A: I am an aviation engineer at Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc., an engineering consulting firm. My role is to design airports, whether a runway, apron, terminal building or something else.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your current role? 

A: My favorite part about my role is the challenge. I knew I wanted to work on transportation systems when I was in school, but I never thought of doing it for airports.

Q: How did your life journey lead you to where you are today?

A: I’ve always had a passion for design. Starting in middle school, my TV stayed on HGTV. During high school, I was in a program called “Project Lead the Way,” where I started taking classes focused on engineering. I initially wanted to pursue a degree in architecture, but I did some research and found civil engineering. My ultimate goal was to design and build roads and bridges, so I had an emphasis in transportation. After doing a few internships for the Missouri Department of Transportation, SWT Design, TSi Geotechnical Inc., and CMT Inc., I chose to stay in aviation. I didn’t realize this sector existed, but I’m glad I discovered it. It allows me to follow my dream to design for transportation while focusing on airports. 

Q: How would you say your chosen career path is “transforming” the community? 

A: There are approximately 100,000 flights per day. My line of work ensures that people can travel by plane for business, leisure, and to reunite with family. 

Q: What led you to take classes at STLCC? 

A: I originally started at Southern Illinois University and then moved back home. I needed a fresh start and STLCC offered that to me.

Q: How did STLCC support and prepare you for where you are today? 

A: STLCC provided the courses I needed to pursue my goal of earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Also, the staff, such as Terrence Freeman, PhD, and Richard Unger, were very supportive during my time at STLCC.

Q: What was your favorite thing about attending STLCC? 

A: I enjoyed participating in The National Society of Black Engineers. The community and friendships I gained at STLCC are still strong today.

Q: Do you have a memorable class or professor you’d like to shout out? 

A: Dr. Freeman is one of the best educators and mentors I’ve ever had. 

Q: What advice would you give someone considering your career path?

A: Keep going. It doesn’t matter if you fail a test or an entire class—never give up on the original dreams and goals you set for yourself.

Q: What would you say to students considering community college? 

A: The four-year university isn’t going anywhere. You can still take the same prerequisite classes at a more affordable price. Earning your associate degree within those first two years will put you ahead of your peers once you transfer to a four-year university. Your resume will make you look more experienced if you have that degree. 


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