Maddie Hsieh

Professional Flight Technology (SATT)

What made you decide to choose your specific major?

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a town with a collegiate aviation program. Through a yearly summer camp, I was exposed to general aviation and fell in love. As I grew up, I knew I wanted to do something involved in aviation. I began to take flight lessons and confirmed that I wanted to be a pilot. Purdue offered one of the best flight educations in the country, so I went on a visit. I really enjoyed the campus and the program, which is why I am here now in the Pro Flight program!

What are a couple of your favorite things about your program of study?

The Pro Flight program is able to boast experiences that no other major can. Hands-on learning almost feels like an understatement when one of my labs is literally going out to the airport to fly. I enjoy how there are a range of classes both offered and required that fit within the major while still feeling like a diverse plan of study. For example, as a flight student, I still take courses related to aviation management or aircraft systems. This feels more like I am getting a comprehensive education for what I need in a career, not just a degree. I also enjoy how the hands-on approach means that there are also models and resources for students in didactic classes too, not just in labs.

What has been one of your favorite class projects?

One of my favorite class projects was working with a professor to figure out a new simulator system one of the SATT programs was interested in using. Through interest and an honors contract, I was able to actually explore the new system and help figure out how best it could be implemented future coursework. It was very cool to get a glimpse behind the curtain at how course creation and technology integration work, and to be able to have a voice as a student in the program.

What other activities are you involved in on campus?

I am always eager to participate in programs I feel passionately about! I am involved in the Purdue chapters of Women in Aviation International and the Professional Asian Pilots Association. In addition, I am part of the Purdue Air Race team, and was able to help out as part of the ground crew this past summer for the team we sent to the Air Race Classic. I am also part of the SATT Student Safety Committee, where I was afforded the opportunity to collaboratively organize some of the events for the semesterly Mental Health Awareness Week. There are plenty of opportunities to be involved and make change around campus.

What do you know about your program of study now that you wish someone had told you when you were choosing a major?

The biggest piece of advice I wish I had going into the program would have to be about being more proactive about my education. It is incredibly important not just to show up, but to push and self-motivate to get things done. The flight program can often be at the mercy of weather and maintenance demands that interfere with scheduling, so going above and beyond to schedule extra lessons and study hard on your own time will absolutely make a difference.

What would be one piece of advice for prospective students or new Purdue students?

One piece of advice I would have for prospective or incoming students would be to  do things scared (but not stupid). For me, at least, I let a my nerves about joining clubs, meeting new people, and going up to instructors keep me at a distance my first semester here. College is a transitional time, but people either are going through the same thing or understand it. Just telling myself to go and try new things and meet new people has made a marked improvement in my following semesters and really helped to settle in and start building confidence.

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