SMART Center announces new principal investigator, director

(VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.) — The National Science Foundation (NSF) Southeast Maritime and Transportation (SMART) Center has named Thomas Stout as the center’s new principal investigator and Jennifer Palestrant as the center’s new director.

The SMART Center is one of 42 national ATE (Advanced Technological Education) programs in the U.S. and the only regional ATE center focused on developing effective career pathways and programs in the maritime and transportation industries. It is the only NSF ATE center in Virginia and is housed the Advanced Technology Center at Tidewater Community College (TCC) in Hampton Roads.

As newly appointed SMART Center director, Palestrant will provide overall center leadership and operational management. Working collaboratively with the community college partners, the maritime community, and TCC faculty and administrators, she will provide regular oversight for the planning, development, and implementation of the center’s goals. Palestrant joined TCC in 2016, serving as interim associate vice president for corporate solutions and manager of the college’s Coast Guard maritime training program. She has over 25 years of marketing and management experience with nonprofits and professional services firms. She earned a master's degree in marketing from the College of William and Mary and a bachelor of arts degree from the College of Wooster in Ohio. Previously she was a senior vice president for membership and communications with the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

As the new principal investigator for the SMART Center, Stout is responsible for leading the center’s mission to create effective regional partnerships that advance technological education programs which respond to maritime and transportation employers' need for well-educated, credentialed technicians as well as equipping teachers to for these fields. Stout is the dean for science, technology, engineering and mathematics on the Chesapeake campus of TCC. Previously, he held the position of associate professor of electromechanical controls at TCC, teaching mechatronics, electromechanical controls and electronics technology. He has worked in industrial maintenance, mechatronics and safety. He earned his bachelor of science degree from Old Dominion University in 2004 and his master's degree in electronics engineering from Norfolk State University in 2007. He served in the United States Navy,
retiring as an avionics senior chief petty officer after working 20 years on ships and aircraft.

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By Professional Mariner Staff