DoD Seeks to Interest Students in Science, Technology
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 24, 2006 Defense Department officials are hoping to attract applicants to the department's new SMART scholarship program for students in science and math disciplines.
Joseph Sorden (left) and Dwight Desotelle, both 16 and from Grant, Mich., chats with Clarence Johnson, principal director of the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Equal Opportunity, at the Women's History Month observance at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Photo by Rudi Williams
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Students can be offered full scholarships to participate in the "Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation" scholarship program, which was established under the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2006.
For the second consecutive year, the Defense Department invited more than 300 middle and high school students and staff members from schools across the nation to its Women's History Month observance at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial here in hope of convincing some of them to consider majoring in disciplines DoD needs, officials said.
"These young, bright middle and high school students were selected from various states to spend a week in our nation's capital to understand how the government works," Gail H. McGinn, deputy undersecretary of defense for plans, said in welcoming the students and staff from the Close-Up Program to the observance.
Since 1971, the Close-Up Foundation has hosted more than 650,000 students, educators and others for weeklong government studies programs in the nation's capital. McGinn repeatedly emphasized to the students that the Defense Department would pay for their education if they majored in one of the "STEM" subjects -- science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.
Joseph Sorden, 16, and Dwight Desotelle, 16, both juniors at Grant High School in Grant, Mich., voiced an interest in the DoD scholarship program.
"I learned that America has a shortage of engineers, and I'm in math and physics at school. So if they will pay me to go to school, it would be nice," Desotelle said.
Desotelle also said he was impressed with the ceremony's locale -- the women's memorial, particularly the portrait gallery of servicemembers who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I like all the pictures on the walls, which I think is very interesting. Overall, this is a great place to be," he said. The exhibit features more than 1,300 individual portraits honoring America's fallen. Artists from across the country donated the paintings.
Sorden said he's also interested in a DoD scholarship. "I'm taking physics next year, and I like science a lot. I've taken into consideration engineering. I plan to look up the Defense Department scholarships on the Internet," he said.
SMART scholarships and fellowships are awarded to applicants who are pursuing a degree in subjects like aeronautical and astronautical engineering, aerospace engineering, biosciences, physiology, chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer and computational sciences, electrical engineering, naval architecture and ocean engineering, and a host of other subjects.
DoD is also interested in supporting the education of future scientists and engineers in a number of interdisciplinary, military technology areas of overlapping disciplines. During summer sessions, students will receive assignments as interns at DoD labs and agencies, or other assignments that will further their education and training goals, officials said.
Officials said the SMART program is aimed at providing the nation with talented, trained American men and women who will lead state-of-the-art research projects in disciplines having the greatest payoff to national defense requirements.
The scholarship program allows individuals to acquire an education in exchange for a period of employment with the Defense Department in the specified areas.
More detailed information can be obtained by contacting: Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Defense Scholarship Program, American Society for Engineering Education, 1818 N Street N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036. Program officials can be reached by phone at: (202) 331-3516.