SMART Center at TCC receives $3 million grant from National Science Foundation

September 17, 2015

The Southeast Maritime and Transportation (SMART) Center, housed at Tidewater Community College, has received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program.

The SMART Center is the only National Science Foundation Advanced Technology Education (NSF ATE) center solely focused on developing a pipeline of credentialed skilled technicians in the maritime and transportation industry.

The SMART Center is located on TCC’s Virginia Beach Campus.

The grant allows the SMART Center to continue its work as a regional educational and economic model for preparing a sustainable, globally prepared workforce in maritime transportation occupations, a rapidly growing career field due to industry growth and an aging workforce.

This award starts Sept. 15, 2015 and ends Aug. 31, 2018.

“This new round of funding ensures that the SMART Center can continue to build a more qualified workforce in an area where wages are competitive and jobs are plentiful,” said TCC President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani.

“The SMART Center remains committed to developing career pathways and educational standards that align with employer needs within the region and to lay the groundwork for future industry certification that will sustain our economy for decades to come,” she said. “We will be contacting all our appropriate business partners to assess how this grant will address the local needs for small and large businesses.”

The SMART Center partners with San Jacinto College in Houston, Virginia Tech Research in Hampton, AMSEC LLC in Virginia Beach and Anne Arundel Community College in Baltimore.

“We can now move forward in leveraging and scaling the success we’ve already achieved in industry partnership development locally, regionally and nationally; career awareness outreach, and continued career pathways,” said Barbara Murray, executive director of the SMART Center and principal investigator for the grant.

Highlights from the first round of SMART Center funding include:

  • the development of a SMART Maritime Technologies pathway that features stackable academic and industry-valued credentials;
  • a model of registered apprenticeship that allows apprentices to earn college credit for their required instructional classroom work;
  • the “Make the SMART choice” video series and renowned professional development offerings. “Get SMART” workshops impact educators across the nation to change the perception of careers in the maritime and transportation industry;
  • the development of partnerships with West Coast industry with a focus on careers in ship maintenance and modernization; port operation and marine logistics; vessel operations and pleasure craft; and emerging maritime-dependent technologies to include offshore wind and operations.