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Sound Bites - Issue #59 - July 2018 #294

On the Cover
Barry Brennen Pilots Drones into Community Ed

Barry Brennen Commercial Drone Pilot Instructor

Barry brings his expertise and passion on all things drones to Community Ed

Drones in action at Redondo Beach with the PBPD

Drones have entered the national consciousness in many ways over the past few years, but what most people probably don't know is that the future of careers in commercial drone piloting is booming.

The Federal Aviation Administration projects the commercial, small drone fleet is set to grow from 110,000-plus in 2017 to almost 452,000 in 2022. The number of commercial remote pilots is set to increase from 73,000-plus in 2017 to 301,000 in 2022.

And so, SMC Extension/Community Education - always on the lookout for training opportunities in careers with exceptional growth projections - will debut its Commercial Drone Pilot Training program this fall.

"I think the future in this is huge," says Barry Brennen, owner of Redondo Beach-based Flying Lion, Inc., who will teach the courses for Extension/Community Ed. "The industry is growing because there are so many applications."


The applications for drone use seem endless and grow every day - for law enforcement agencies, property developers, energy companies, nature preserves and environmentalists, cinema, agriculture and more.

Flying Lion, for example, has mostly law enforcement clients (including the Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach Police Departments) that find drones helpful for many uses - including barricaded subject situations, serving search warrants (to detect anyone fleeing from the scene), beach crime monitoring, and crowd surveillance (such as medical emergencies or lost children).

But that's just one field. Developers can do aerial surveys. Energy and public utility companies can use drones equipped with infrared to detect overheating in cell towers, solar panels, refineries and more. Search and rescue teams can use them for their operations.

And that's not all. In Africa, where air traffic is much less congested than in most parts of the world and where there are fewer restrictions on drones, the unmanned aircraft are used to track poachers and deliver medication to rural areas, Brennen said.

Environmental and government agencies are using drones nicknamed "snot bots" to monitor whales' blowholes to determine the health of the large sea mammals.

And at the sprawling Tejon Ranch Conservancy just north of Los Angeles, biologists are examining the distribution of invasive plants, observing the changes in oak canopy cover responding to drought, tracking invasive wild pig damage in sensitive habitats, and monitoring conifer mortality on rugged high elevation slopes.

The Commercial Drone Certification program will have three parts: FAA Test Prep (three Saturdays), Flight Training (two Saturdays) and an Externship, in which students will work 120 hours with a company that uses drones. Cost of the certification program is about $1,700 – an investment well spent!

Brennen, who was in the logistics field for 20 years before starting his company in 2014, said the birth of Flying Lions came about as a result of his Master's of Business Administration degree at USC. In his Entrepreneurship class, his team had to pitch an idea for a business start-up, and he came up with the idea of a commercial drone firm. His team won the class competition.

As a reserve police officer with the Redondo Beach Police Department, it was a natural for him to reach out to law enforcement when he founded his company.

Then, driven by a passion for his field, he approached El Camino College to start a program and began teaching the certification course. He also teaches at Pasadena City College.

"I just love the teaching aspect of it - particularly the ah-ha moment when the students get it," he said.

Brennen sees another advantage to commercial drone pilot training.

"Drones are going to be the way to get people excited about aviation," he said, noting that the industry is facing a shortage of trained commercial pilots. "It's a great gateway to get into flying."

Barry Brennen will teach Commercial Drone Pilot Training beginning October 13.

What's New
Shauna Murray Finds Her Calling in Photography

Alice Meyering

Shauna Murray, Self-Portrait

Taken from Highline, NYC

A rooftop wedding

from the desk of Alice Meyering

Shauna Murray is the kind of student we love. In Spring 2015 she registered for her first photography class at SMC Community Ed and was so inspired she continued to take classes, not only with us but also in the academic program on the main SMC campus.

Three years later, she is just 10 academic units short of getting a Photography Certificate from SMC, she won an award in the recent Annual SMC Student Photo Show ("Best Lifestyle Photo"), and she is working in the photography field - collaborating with designers, brands, producers, stylists, creative directors and other photographers.

"If you had told me four years ago that I'd be a professional photographer now I wouldn't have believed you," Shauna told us. "I've been so grateful for the guidance and support I've gotten from SMC, both Community Ed and the academic program. It's definitely changed my life."

Shauna, who lives in Venice after having moved 10 years ago from Colorado, was working as the Communications Director for a music-and-arts-based nonprofit in Los Angeles when a friend of hers told her she was taking a photography class at SMC Community Ed.

Shauna jumped at the opportunity to join her friend because, though she said she cared deeply about the work her organization was doing, she found herself spending the majority of her time working on tedious projects when she really wanted to be out in the field doing more creative work.

"I've always enjoyed taking pictures," she said, "mostly snapshots of friends and family, places I've traveled, everyday life, and I started posting more images on Facebook and Instagram. I was pleasantly surprised with the positive feedback I received. Social media provided a fun place to make art of the everyday and share it with others without taking myself too seriously. At some point though, I started to ask myself ‘why not take this a little more seriously?'"

She got a DSLR digital camera – previously all her images were captured on her cell phone or a point-and-shoot camera – and registered in Larry Jones' Basic Photography class.

She loved it so much she continued to take another four classes at Community Ed and also started taking courses in the academic program in Fall 2015. In 2017, she was presented with an opportunity to make a career change and follow her passion into the photography field. 

"The SMC Community Ed and academic programs have been so great and I've gotten to learn so much from these instructors and their professional expertise," Shauna told us. "I've really learned to look at things differently and compose an image and tell a story and think about lighting and other aspects. I learned to think like a photographer."

She finds LA an ideal city in which to create images.

"I'm often inspired by my surroundings in LA, whether it's the natural beauty of the coast, the mural-covered streets of the city or the diverse mix of people and cultures that converge here," she said. "In Community Ed workshops with Ed Mangus I discovered new places right here in LA that I'd never explored before. I also rediscovered places I thought I knew well and I saw them in a new way, with a photographer's eye."

She continued, "Photography brings so much joy to my life and my goal is for that to come through in my work. As an English major undergrad at the University of Colorado at Boulder I learned to think like a storyteller, and that's how I approach photography, too. Whether I'm working with a client to execute their vision, or working on a personal project, I love figuring out how to tell a story with my camera."

Thank you, Shauna, for inspiring us as much as we have inspired you.

You can also follow Shauna Murray on Instagram and Facebook.

Inspired by Shauna’s story? Are you ready to experience our photography classes yourself. Register into Fall semester’s Basic Digital Photography & Intermediate Digital Photography today, and you could be experiencing an amazing transformation just like Shauna!

Behind the Scenes:
We're Proud to Be Part of LA MODE 2018!

Stunningly creative student fashion show LA MODE 2018

In January, SMC Community Ed entered into a fruitful relationship with SMC Fashion program instructors who asked us to offer classes to supplement their academic classes that are crucial to fashion industry training, to existing students as well as interested public.

Four months later, the SMC Fashion Department held its highly anticipated and stunningly creative annual fashion show, LA MODE 2018 - and SMC Community Ed was pleased to have contributed in the stellar event.

See more photos from the LA MODE 2018

"We've been offering two classes, Tech Pack and Commercial Sewing Bootcamp, both taught by wonderful instructors from the academic program," said Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator of Community & Contract Education. "Fashion students from the main campus have been able to take our classes, not only for their careers but also to help them prepare their garments for LA MODE.

"I was blown away by the student creations I saw at the fashion show, many of which held great potential to one day be on a Paris or New York runway," Meyering said.

Then, in another synergistic connection, SMC photography students took the images of the show that are included in this article.

"SMC Community Ed has had a long and rewarding relationship with the academic Photography program – several of their instructors teach our successful classes for decades," Meyering said. And, interestingly, Photography and Fashion are combined into one academic department.

"I am thrilled that we now have a stake, however modest, in LA MODE, which displays the incredible works of our future designers. And I expect to continue to have a fantastic relationship with the Photography and Fashion Department," Meyering said. "It's particularly rewarding to see how students are able to benefit from our program as well as the for-credit program, and how we are often able to feed students into the academic classes."

A Business Plan to Better Serve Our Community

Michelle KingMichelle King, Director Career & Contract Ed.

With the fiscal year just begun July 1 - and with a new dean (Dione "Dee Dee" Carter) overseeing SMC Community Ed - I thought this was a good time to take a fresh look at what our program is doing and how we can better serve our wonderful community.

We are strategizing for a better Community Ed in the future, and to that end I recently completed a Business Plan and a "scan" of other Continuing Ed programs to compare how we are serving the community.

We will be reviewing this plan and the resources required to implement it. Please stay tuned - we will be needing your input to truly assess how we are doing. We may reach out to you, our community stakeholders, for opinions, views, and preferences.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions at Have a wonderful summer!

Warm regards,

Michelle King
Director of Career &
Contract Education


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