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MMA Hosts its Annual Celebration of Achievement

CASTINE, Maine – Maine Maritime Academy honored twenty-seven individuals associated with the school for their outstanding accomplishments during the annual Celebration of Achievement Thursday, Nov. 8.

This event consisted of several award ceremonies targeted at highlighting the achievements of students, alumni, and faculty members. These ceremonies included the academy’s Wall of Honor induction, Scheel and American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Scholars presentation, and an Excellence in Teaching Award.

The Wall of Honor was initiated in 1997 to recognize alumni who have achieved a high level of success in the professional and civic communities. The Wall serves not only as a tribute to these individual’s accomplishments but is a tool to foster inspiration to current students and alumni to strive for a greater level of personal excellence.

This year’s Wall of Honor induction recognized the accomplishments of Kevin Poitras, president of General Dynamics Electric Boat and MMA class of 1973 graduate, and Steven Durrell, president of Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and MMA class of 1984 graduate. Poitras and Durrell joined fifty-seven other distinguished alumni by having their framed picture and biographical sketch permanently displayed on the Wall of Honor in the Kresge Room of the Student Center.

Poitras and Durrel were selected from nominations made by fellow alumni and the public. For a candidate to nominated they must meet these strict criteria requirements: the candidate must be a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy and own, be a president, chief executive officer, or chair of the board of directors of a company; have been elected to the office of mayor, governor, U.S. House of Representatives or Senate; have achieved the rank of flag officer in a branch of the military; or have achieved significant prominence or lifetime achievements in a chosen field.

In addition, advanced education, professional awards and honors, community service, and voluntary service to MMA are also considered for selection. Every year a committee of members of the Wall of Honor carries out the process of selecting new members for the Wall.

Kevin Poitras graduated from Maine Maritime Academy in 1973. His career highlights include thirty-nine years at General Dynamics Electric Boat. He started out as a Nuclear Construction Support Engineer in 1973 before becoming a Steel Trade General Foreman in 1978, Trident and 688 Class Chief Nuclear Test Engineer in 1980, Chief of Engineering SEAWOLF Class Reactor Plant in 1986, Manager at Virginia Class Propulsion Plant in 1993, Program Manager for CVN21 Design Program, Vice President of Engineering and Design Programs, Senior Vice President for Engineering, Design and Business Development, to his current position as President starting this year.

Poitras’ other distinguishable services include sitting on the Board of Directors for Enders Island and the Naval Submarine League and on the Executive Oversight Board for the Mechanical Engineering Department at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Steven Durrell graduated from Maine Maritime Academy in 1984. His career highlights includes being a Ships Engineering Officer at Kent Line Ltd. from 1984 to 1985, Propulsion Systems Engineer at Saint John Shipbuilding Ltd. from 1985 to 1994, Ship Repair Manager at ISI Facilities in Halifax, Nova Scotia from 1995-2003, Vice President of Irving Shipbuilders Inc. from 2003 to 2008, to his current position as President of Irving Shipbuilding and Fleetway Inc. which he has held since 2008.

Durrell’s other distinguishable services include the Halifax Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year in 2012, being a member of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Association of Defense and Security Industries, sitting on the Defense Industry Advisory Committee for the Department of National Defense for Canada, serving as the Advising Assistant Deputy Minister (Material) on defense industrial issues, sitting on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Shipbuilders Association, and lead the formation of the ShipsStartHere Partnership.

The academy also recognized Courtney E. Dufour, Nicholas P. LaCombe, Tate E. Wagstaff, Dale A. Thomas, III, Charles D. Spear, Ashley N. Burnett, Diana L. Townsend, Chad M. Mills, Aline H. Spear, and Timothy J. DeStefano as this year’s Henry A. Scheel Scholars - the college’s highest undergraduate academic honor. It is awarded to these students because they best exemplify intellectual curiosity and academic achievement.

The scholarship is named in honor of the late Henry A. Scheel, a resident of Rockport, Maine and a noted naval architect who expressed his high regard for MMA by leaving funds to permanently endow to outstanding students.

The Academy also recognized James Belmont, Christopher Brawn, Tucker Doane, Angela Fouquette, Zackary Lawrence, Bryce Lynn, Andrew McHenry, Michael McMahon, Benjamin Russell, and Dale Thomas as this year’s ABS Scholars. Each recipient will receive a $10,000 scholarship in the final two years of their academic career at MMA and provided the opportunity to complete an internship at ABS.

The scholarship was created to award deserving engineering and naval architecture students at colleges and universities that are recognized as national or international leaders in maritime technical education and research. The candidates for the scholarship were selected from those students enrolled in the college’s five-year marine systems engineering program by a committee of MMA engineering faculty and administrators based on their overall grade point average, classroom and academic leadership, and their intellectual curiosity and growth.

MMA also presented the seventh annual Excellence in Teaching Award to Barbara Fleck. The award is the school’s highest achievement award for faculty members and designates a member of the faculty who best exemplifies proficiency in their field of expertise and passion for teaching and student learning. Fleck was nominated by students in the Academy’s three upper classes and the last five years of alumni and chosen by a committee of Emeriti Professors.

Fleck has taught in the engineering department at MMA since 1994. She teaches courses in many areas including thermodynamics, engineering design, statics and dynamics, and recently developed an elective in renewable energy technology. She has also been involved in research projects including the design and testing of a model floating offshore wind turbine and recently completed a ten-day course in Costa Rica on solar electricity system design and installation for the developing world.

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