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NEWS | June 30, 2020

NSWC PCD selects five SMART Scholars for 2020

By Susan H. Lawson NSWC PCD

The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) has made their selections for this year’s Science Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarship recipients.

The scholars joining NSWC PCD are Justice Wobser, electrical engineering, Dr. Rory Hector, unmanned systems and robotics, Dr. Margarite LaBorde, physics, Dr. Jacqueline Jermyn, unmanned systems and robotics, and Toni Weaver, mechanical engineering.

“The SMART program has been crucial over the years to PCD’s strategy of obtaining talented employees with advanced degrees in the most competitive fields today such as Autonomy, Unmanned Systems, and Machine Learning,” said Dr. Matthew Bays, project lead engineer, former SMART scholar, and Naval Engineering Education Consortium director at NSWC PCD.  “Such fields are critical to our mission area, and SMART has allowed us to recruit and cultivate future leaders in these fields in a way that would be impossible if we could only rely on traditional recruiting methods.”

Each year, after the selected SMART scholars have accepted the scholarship, sponsoring facilities host a site visit for students to learn more about their facility.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Defense (DoD) requires site visits for 2020 be conducted virtually.

NSWC PCD's first-ever virtual site visit, scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, will feature a panel of previous SMART students currently working at NSWC PCD, the deputy technical director of business operations, a representative from each technical department, and the student programs coordinator.  Students will be briefed on an overview of the command and technical departments, and will be able to ask questions to the panel regarding the program, potential projects, and other related subjects in an interactive environment.

“We are happy to welcome aboard our SMART scholars for 2020,” said Robert Walker, acting technical director at NSWC PCD.  “Each individual brings expertise necessary for continued success within our command bringing naval capability to the fleet in the littoral battlespace.”

The SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program was established as a concentrated effort to enhance the (DoD) workforce with talented, innovative, and brilliant scientists, engineers, and researchers.  For over a decade, SMART Scholars have been working with labs and agencies within the Army, Navy, Air Force, and additional DoD to support the warfighter and create an impact.

SMART Scholars enter the program to pursue their education in some of the leading fields in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) that are currently in high demand by the government.  The program offers scholarships for bachelors, masters, and Ph.D. students pursuing fields of study in STEM. 

While in school, students will receive full tuition, monthly stipends, health insurance, and book allowances, as well as summer internships ranging from eight to 12 weeks.  Upon degree completion, scholars will begin working in a civilian position within the sponsoring facility.

The internships and work experience allow scholars an opportunity to learn from the greatest minds in STEM and defense.  Not only do scholars pursue their passions in their respective field during their educational phase, they also begin a journey towards an empowering career to protect national security.