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Hanscom seek engineers through SMART program

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Hanscom officials are searching for the next generation of engineers through programs such as the Department of Defense’s Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation, or SMART, Scholarship-for-Service Program.

The program offers scholarships to undergraduate, masters and doctoral students who have demonstrated ability and special aptitude for exceling in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Eric Schlecht, who earned an electrical engineering degree from Clemson University in 2015 by way of the SMART program, is currently working here as an engineer on the Family of Advanced Beyond-Line-of-Sight Terminals fielding team.

“After finishing my four-year enlistment in the Marine Corps in 2010, I wanted to pursue my undergraduate degree,” said Schlecht, who is in the second year of a two-year commitment as part of the program. “While searching for ways to pay for school, I discovered the many benefits of the SMART program my sophomore year.”

Among the benefits are full tuition at an accredited U.S. college or university, payments for education-related fees and an annual stipend of $25,000 to $38,000, depending on the degree scholars are pursuing. The program also includes a paid summer internship.

“The goal of the program is to produce Defense Department science and technology leaders,” said Patrick Hart, who serves as the program’s coordinator at Hanscom. “Upon selection, awardees are assigned to a DOD facility where they will be expected to serve as a summer intern and then complete a period of post-graduation employment service as a federal civilian employee.”

Hart explained that for every year of tuition paid, awardees owe one year of service to the government.

And for Schlecht, the opportunity to be gainfully employed upon graduating was another benefit of the program.

“The type of work that is done at Hanscom was exactly what I was looking for as an electrical engineer student,” he said. “Having the opportunity to intern here between my junior and senior year, as well as having postgraduate employment, was an exciting opportunity for me.”

According to the SMART website, applicants must also be pursuing a degree in, or closely related to, one of the approved STEM disciplines with interest in research.

There were 239 scholarships awarded last year.

“Applicants are some of the best students at some of the finest institutions across the country,” said Hart. “Hanscom is competing with other Air Force installations, as well as the Army, Navy and other DOD facilities for them.”

Those currently intersted must be at least 18 years old as of Aug. 1, 2017, and a student with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale at the time of award. The average GPA of scholars last year was 3.7.

SMART scholarships range from a minimum of one year to a maximum of five years per award, depending on degree requirements.

Active duty service members interested in applying for the SMART program must be honorably separated or begin terminal leave on or before Aug. 1, 2017. National Guard and Reserve personnel are eligible to apply, as are current government employees.

The scholarship application deadline is Dec. 1.

Additional information and complete eligibility requirements are available on the SMART website at https://smart.asee.org.