News Release: Graduate student helps keep drone academy in Malawi on track amid COVID-19 pandemic

April 22, 2020 –Twenty-five students from nine African countries were prepared to make history on March 18. They would be the first graduating class from the African Drone and Data Academy in Malawi, a joint educational effort between Virginia Tech and UNICEF that provides students with drone, data, and entrepreneurship skills.

Then, news came that a novel coronavirus was spreading.

Brianna Friedman, a Virginia Tech master’s degree student in the College of Engineering and an instructor at the academy, was in Malawi when she heard the news. “I didn’t realize the extent of the virus until I talked to my parents back in the States. We started to realize that it would affect the student cohort.”


More than 200 people were expected at the graduation, including graduates’ families, international media, and development partners, as well as representatives from UNICEF, Virginia Tech, and drone…

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