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Dean Thomas Stout encourages students to get out of their comfort zones

Thomas Stout joined Tidewater Community College after a successful career in the U.S. Navy.

He served as an avionics senior chief, working on F-14s and aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise. “I enjoyed avionics and also teaching. I did two instructors tours while in the Navy and became a master training specialist. I found my passion in helping people learn and succeed,” Stout said.

After retiring from the Navy, he brought this skill set to the college in 2008.

He joined TCC as program head for Electromechanical Controls Technology, now Mechatronics. “When I started I considered our Mechatronics program light,” he said. “Now we have two complete degree programs – Mechatronics and Electrical Technology.”

Thomas Stout Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Chesapeake CampusWhile still in the Navy, Stout enrolled at TCC, studying Electronics Technology under Professor Al Koon.

He earned his associate in 2000. “In the Navy, we worked on complicated radar systems with hydraulics that drove the radar dish and the fire controls systems,” he said. “That work prepared me for the hands-on work of my TCC program.”

Stout continued his education at Old Dominion University, earning a bachelor’s in electrical engineering technology and later a master’s in electronics engineering through a fellowship at Norfolk State University.

Growing up in a single parent home, Stout recalls that college was a distant dream. “I was told in high school that I wasn’t college material,” he said. “I’m glad that I didn’t take that to heart.”

The first in his family to complete a degree, Stout is dean of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the Chesapeake Campus. “I was successful in the Navy because I learned my electronics. And from there, I’ve worked hard and took the opportunities presented to me.”

Stout says the highlight of his work is sharing his story and helping others on their journey. “I know my students can make a good living wage,” he said. “With the graying of the workforce, and manufacturing jobs returning from overseas, local manufacturers are in need of trained, skilled technicians.”

During his time at the college, Stout has been instrumental in launching programs in Renewable Energy Technologies, Marine Mechanical, Marine Electrical, Basic Metal and Plastic Machine Operator and Computer Numerical Controls Operator.

“For me this is about sharing what I know and helping students prepare for the road ahead,” Stout said. “If you can use your hands and brains to make something, you always have a good paying career.

“I tell students that it’s important to get out of their comfort zone. And don’t wait for success to knock on your door – make success for yourself.”