Engineering students awarded Department of Defense SMART scholarship


By Mariah Chuprinski

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Three Penn State engineering students have received Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation scholarships from the U.S. Department of Defense.  

The SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program is a combined educational and workforce development opportunity for select undergraduate and graduate students to gain technical skills in critical STEM fields and support the national security mission of the Department of Defense, according to the SMART scholarship website.   

The award provides students with full tuition and a stipend for up to five years, mentorship, summer internships and full-time employment with the Department of Defense after graduation.  

During their summer internships, SMART scholars work at one of over 200 national laboratories for the Army, Navy, Air Force and other Department of Defense affiliates.  

Below are this year’s awardees from the Penn State College of Engineering:  

  • Matthew Brownell, a rising third-year doctoral student in aerospace engineering, is advised by Puneet Singla, professor of aerospace engineering. Brownell is interested in data-driven modeling for the analysis of flexible space structures, orbit determination and station-keeping. At the Department of Defense, Brownell plans to continue his research in the field and design large, flexible spacecraft for future missions. 
  • Aaron Fjeldsted, a second-year doctoral student in nuclear engineering, is advised by Azaree Lintereur, assistant professor of nuclear engineering. Fjeldsted is interested in gamma-ray spectroscopy, machine learning, nuclear security and non-proliferation. This summer, Fjeldsted will complete onboarding and security clearances in order to intern with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency next summer in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where he will focus on algorithm development for nuclear technology detection. After graduation, Fjeldsted plans to continue working with the DTFA on researching and developing technologies to detect nuclear weapons.
  • Madison DeVries is a rising fourth-year undergraduate student in chemical engineering with a minor in business. DeVries is interested in armaments technology. This summer, DeVries is working as an apprentice with the Army Educational Outreach Program in the explosives division at the Picatinny Arsenal in Wharton, New Jersey, where she will work on the research and development of new explosive and warhead technology. After she graduates next spring, she plans to continue working at the Picatinny Arsenal in the quality division. 

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