SMART Scholarship Awarded to CEAS Student

Shea Watson, an Electrical Engineering prejunior, received a SMART Scholarship from the Department of Defense.  He will receive a full ride and employment upon graduation.

By: Kelley Ujvary

Date: 1/4/2011


The SMART (Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation) Scholarship was established by the Department of Defense (DoD) in 2006 to support graduate and undergraduate students pursuing degrees in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM). 

The amenities the recipients receive include full tuition and educational fees, a cash award ranging from $25,000-$41,000, paid summer internships, health insurance reimbursement, $1,000 book allowance per academic year, mentoring, and employment with DoD after graduation. 

For the first time, a UC CEAS student has been honored with this prestigious and lucrative award.  Shea Watson, a prejunior majoring in Electrical Engineering went through the rigorous application process.  “The application process was very difficult,” says Watson.  It began with two phases of document based applications including resumes, references and a goals statement.  If you are selected, you move on to be a semifinalist. 

Semifinalists go through an interview process with the Department of Defense.  Based on those interviews, the DoD evaluators select the best interviewees for yet another round of interviews.  After these interviews, a final decision is made.  “The process is very stressful and at times confusing.  It is also very challenging to get the scholarship just based on the sheer number of people who apply and their respective backgrounds.” 

Watson heard about the scholarship from his father; a researcher at the DoD who also participated in a similar scholarship and got his start with the organization.  Watson’s interest in the scholarship and the DoD was already there.  “I have wanted to work with the Department of Defense for some time now.  Their research facilities are unparalleled,” says Watson.  “This scholarship appealed to me because it provides an opportunity to work in a research position alongside some of the top minds in the country.” 

Upon graduation, this scholarship requires a number of years of employment with the DoD.  “I hope to obtain my Ph.D. and continue to work for the Department of Defense in whatever capacity I can,” says Watson.  For now, he has been scheduled for a position at Edwards AFB in California following graduation.  “Essentially I wanted a research position and that is what I got.” 

CEAS majors eligible for SMART scholarships are: Aeronautical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Information Technology, Materials Science and Engineering, and Computer Engineering.