The Women of Color STEM award is a prestigious, annual honor granted to those in the field who make significant contributions across 15 categories, including positively impacting government, educational leadership and technical innovation.
A civilian Airman and electrical engineer for Air Force Life Cycle Management Center‘s Fighters and Advanced Aircraft, Monique Brisson was honored with the Professional Achievement in Government award during the 2020 Women of Color STEM Virtual Conference held Oct. 8-10. Brisson was nominated by Dr. John Camp, chief of the Joint All Domain Systems Section, Mission Analytics Branch for the Air Force Research Laboratory. Prior to her recent move to AFLCMC, Brisson worked for the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB, part of AFRL.
Brisson was in JROTC in high school and then attended Florida A&M University on a scholarship. A self-proclaimed “nerd” who loved to spend free time in the library, Brisson says she discovered engineering while looking through books one day. From that discovery, a spark was lit and she began researching the field, career options and the impact she could make with the right training.
During her college days, Brisson completed an internship at Eglin AFB, Florida. This created a sense of purpose, and she knew she wanted to work for the government from that point forward.
For nearly nine years, Brisson has worked in a variety of engineering roles for the Air Force. While at Robins AFB, Georgia, and the 581st Software Maintenance Squadron, she was a software maintenance engineer, writing test programs to test components for use in aircraft.
“I’m just incrementally progressing (in my career),” Brisson explained. “I do not know if there is an end goal. There are so many opportunities just working for the Air Force. I am so excited to work on these technologies to help the warfighter.”
Brisson is humbled by the award and proud to represent the Air Force. Writing in her nomination letter, Camp said the following:
“From the very beginning of her Air Force career in engineering, Monique was pressing forward and leading the way ahead. She successfully secured Air Force Research Lab sponsorship of her master’s degree thesis research and leveraged that into a full-time position as an Air Force electronics engineer at Robins AFB. Playing a critical role in the Commander’s Challenge team, she led the development of the sensor fusion component. For her contributions, she was recognized with the Air Force Civilian Achievement Award Medal.
“Monique later moved to Wright-Patterson AFB as a research electrical engineer. Eager to tackle new challenges, she began focusing on modeling and simulation, in particular, virtual reality. Demonstrating her ability to broadly apply her capabilities, she enabled a novel study incorporating human motion tracking, virtual reality, biometric monitoring, and aircraft maintenance.”
Winners reflected on the conference theme, “The World is Counting on Us: Reset to Rise.” For Brisson, the theme conjures up images of doing yoga, meditating or praying while striving for the highest version of self.
“Take time to connect with yourself,” she said. “Find your passion. Find your purpose. Take actions that propel you to greater heights.”
Brisson has an undergraduate and two graduate degrees and is considering a doctoral program in the future. She credits her success to her mother who instilled the value of hard work. During her virtual acceptance speech, Brisson said, “I am the third of four children and I watched my mother perform miracles raising the four of us on her own. She always stressed the values of education and hard work. Initially, I struggled in college to find my learning style but with perseverance and support of family and mentors, I finished college and two graduate degrees. Through my job with the Air Force, I have opportunities to work on amazing technology and also find a way to give back to the community. I am grateful for my rewarding career.”
Brisson gives back by tutoring and speaking to local students in the Dayton, Ohio area. She believes the best way to get more women of color involved in the STEM field is to be visible and just show that opportunities abound for those who want to work for them.