Campus & Community

Stevens Awards Fellowships to Trio of Maritime Systems Graduate Students

In an era where man-made and natural threats to the nation’s maritime system are continuing to emerge, Grace Python, Alexander Pollara and Abdul Jalloh have been tapped as the next “wave” of Stevens-trained maritime security leaders – pun intended.

The trio was selected as the newest members of the Maritime Systems Fellowship Program, which prepares highly-skilled graduate students for technical leadership positions in the maritime domain by providing full-tuition support for the pursuit of master’s degrees in Maritime Systems and graduate certificates in Maritime Security.

Python, Pollara and Jalloh each have unique backgrounds that qualify them for the rigorous academic study and pioneering research demanded by the fellowship program.

Python earned her B.E. in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Water Resources from Stevens in May 2012. She excelled at even graduate-level coursework and is excited to officially pursue her passion for Maritime Security, which she developed while attending a youth military academy in high school.

“When I took a maritime security elective last fall, I enjoyed the class so much that I decided the field was something I wanted to continue to pursue,” Python said. “This fellowship is an amazing opportunity by providing not only my classes at Stevens but also the ability to work in the industry through a summer internship before finishing classes and working within the Department of Homeland Security.”

Pollara also hails from Stevens, where he earned a B.E. in Naval Engineering in May 2012. Pollara conducted undergraduate research in Stevens’ Davidson Laboratory on advanced amphibious vehicles and a new marine personnel carrier through a Technogenesis Summer Scholarship. He also interned at the Naval Surface Warfare Center.    

“The program drew my interest particularly for its commitment to research and work experience in the maritime security field,” Pollara said. “Maritime security is the field of maritime systems that deals most closely with the ‘human element’ of the industry, and it presents a wide range of ever-evolving issues that must be identified and adapted to quickly. That makes for a challenging and exciting environment that I look forward to becoming a part of. And there is the added benefit of maybe being able to do some good and make the world a safer place.”

Finally, Jalloh joins Stevens from the City College of New York, where he earned a B.E. in Electrical Engineering in May 2012. As a student researcher in the Optical Remote Sensing Laboratory within the NOAA CREST Institute, Jalloh conducted research on monitoring and understanding atmospheric flows in the New York City region.

“In the world we live in now, there are many disasters, including global warming, climate change, terrorism and disease,” Jalloh said. “My dream is to apply what I have learned to keep people safe and help improve our lifestyles. This program would allow me to gain further knowledge on how remote sensing can be used to improve our lifestyle and keep us safe.”

Although the 30-credit degree program does not begin until the fall 2012 semester, Python, Pollara and Jalloh will arrive at Stevens in June to participate in the CSR’s Summer Research Institute (SRI) – a requirement of fellowship recipients. The SRI is an intensive summer program focused on addressing complex maritime security issues through seminars by maritime industry experts; hands-on, multi-disciplinary research, field visits to ports, labs and government sites; and more.

Next year, the students must also engage in a summer internship at a relevant industry or government organization, or at a CSR partner university and write a master’s thesis.

The Maritime Systems Fellowship Program was made possible when Stevens – in collaboration with the Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce (CSR) – was awarded its second Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Career Development Grant, given to stand-out homeland security workforce development programs. The grant also funded last year’s Maritime Systems Fellowship recipients, who are now entering the final year of the two-year program.

Stevens is nationally-renowned for its cutting-edge maritime security educational programs and its development of innovative maritime technologies. It is home to numerous maritime-focused research centers, which provide students the opportunity to collaborate with researchers in a hands-on research environment.

About The National Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce

In 2008, Stevens Institute of Technology was recognized by the US Department of Homeland Security as a national Center of Excellence in Maritime and Port Security.

The Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce (CSR), along with the University of Hawaii’s National Center for Islands, Maritime, and Extreme Environments Security (CIMES), are the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) National Center of Excellence for Maritime, Island and Extreme/Remote Environment Security. The two Centers have parallel objectives and complementary expertise and their close coordination enhances the capabilities of each.  The Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce at Stevens, focuses on sensors, modeling and analysis to improve maritime domain awareness.