SOE professor wins CT Women of Innovation Award

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Dr. Jani Macari Pallis recognized for academic innovation in engineering.

Dr. Jani Macari Pallis, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Bridgeport, has won the Connecticut Technology Council’s Women of Innovation Award for Academic Innovation and Leadership.

The prize was announced on April 6 at the Women of Innovation awards dinner, which is held annually to recognize women in Connecticut who are accomplished in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and who are involved in their communities.

Pallis received the award for Academic Innovation and Leadership because of her “devotion of 30 years to reaching pre-college students and teachers, engineering colleagues, university students, and informal educators with her innovative, creative curriculum and projects.”

The category included eight other candidates from Yale University, University of Connecticut, Wesleyan University, and other academic institutions.

During her tenure, Dr. Pallis has received over $1.5 million in grants solely focused on curriculum development and outreach. She has successfully made engineering accessible and engaging to students of all ages through a variety of popular campaigns, such as her presentation on the “Aerodynamics of Sports” (she has worked with multiple national and international sports organizations).

Working alone and with UB colleagues, Pallis has also helped numerous institutions throughout Connecticut enrich STEM education and outreach. Projects include participating in curriculum development at the Fairchild Wheeler Inter-district Magnet School and creating interactive and highly sophisticated teaching tools to educate youngsters about space. One of her current collaborations involves the development a robotic puppet that later in 2016 will be launched 100,000 feet above earth in a high-altitude balloon from the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport.

Because of her success in significantly increasing the number of UB students and faculty working on applied aerospace projects that support NASA initiatives, the Connecticut Space Grant College Consortium named Dr. Pallis Campus Director of the Year in 2013.

Her other roles at UB include adviser to the UB Society of Women Engineers student section and UB’s Aerospace Club. These organizations, as well as students from the Saudi Arabia Club and National Society of Black Engineers, volunteer with Pallis at community outreach events, such as Engineers Day, Women in History Day, Space Day, and UB’s Welcome Back Weekend Engineering Carnival.

This is the second time that the Connecticut Technology Council has recognized Pallis. In 2009, she was a finalist for a Woman of Innovation award.

While Pallis’s projects range from spacecraft to sports engineering, her goal has always been “to offer the next generation of engineers exposure and opportunities to participate in innovative projects,” as cited by the awards committee.

Prior to coming to UB, Pallis founded Cislunar Aerospace, Inc., an engineering and research firm, where she was CEO. She also coordinated technology and lead research and development for NASA and the Department of Energy.

“I’m so thrilled and grateful to my colleagues for the nomination and the Connecticut Technology Council Women of Innovation program for recognizing me with this award. Sharing STEM and especially aerospace, has been a life-long labor of love,” said Pallis.

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, lgeary@bridgeport.edu.

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