Shannon Smith awarded SMART Scholarship

Brittany Moseley | Nov. 11, 2015 

Shannon Smith outdoors

Senior year of college can be a stressful, busy time for many students, but Shannon Smith started her final year of college on a high note. In May she was awarded the Department of Defense's Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship. (Juniors Lauren Anderson and Diana Illingsworth also received SMART Scholarships this year.) The award offers students in STEM fields full tuition funding, stipends, summer research internships (for multi-year participants),  employment post-graduation, and more. 

As part of her award, Smith’s tuition will be covered for her final year of schooling and in June she will begin working for the Mission Engineering and Analysis branch at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island. Smith, who’s majoring in mathematics and music, applied for the SMART Scholarship during her sophomore year, but wasn’t chosen. She contributes her success this year to her 2014 summer internship with the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center where she researched applications of underwater technology for Coast Guard missions.

“My internship demonstrated to the various SMART sponsoring facilities that I have the interest and skill set to support a career with the DoD,” Smith said. The internship also allowed her to work with her future employer. “I had the opportunity to collaborate with professionals at the Research and Development Center and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, to gather background information, and develop my ideas,” she explained. “I created a 19-page report for the Coast Guard to better understand the capabilities of existing underwater technology and the potential ways to incorporate that technology in its 11 statutory missions.”

Smith’s post-grad job with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center will focus primarily on mathematical analysis and problem-solving of issues brought to the Mission Engineering and Analysis branch. “Our work helps to confirm information or to raise new questions before researchers at NUWC or the Navy conduct expensive and time-consuming field testing,” she said.

Smith isn’t sure what she’ll do after her SMART Scholarship ends, but she’s weighing several options. “I am keeping an open mind about what I will do career wise after my minimum one year at NUWC. Right now, I can see myself staying there longer or possibly moving to another DoD facility,” she said. “I hope to go to grad school after working a few years and having time to discover what I am most passionate about pursuing at a higher level. I think my future studies will likely be in an ocean-related, STEM-based field.”