Air Force

August 19, 2016

Air Force STEM scholarships available to college students

Kat Bailey
JB San Antonio-Randolph, Texas

Eric Wineman completed both his undergraduate and master’s degrees with no student loan debt and now works for the Air Force as an electronics engineer, courtesy of the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation Scholarship for Service Program.

Part of the National Defense Education Program, SMART was established by the Department of Defense to provide an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines critical to national security functions to receive a full scholarship and post-graduate employment.

“I had been working since I was 15 years old as a grocery stocker and dishwasher, saving all my money for college,” Wineman said. “I was attending Texas A&M-Kingsville and low on funds in my sophomore year. My dad said, ‘Try and apply for this. It’ll pay your way through college and give you a guaranteed job when you get out.’ I said I’d look into it.”

The program aims to increase the number of civilian scientists, engineers and mathematicians working throughout the DOD on some of the world’s interesting research projects and problems. In addition to working alongside some of the innovative minds in the world, SMART scholars also have access to many one-of-a-kind, world-class facilities.

“Lots of people are getting ready to retire and we don’t necessary have the workforce to replace their combined knowledge,” Wineman said. “In SMART, they mentor us and pass down their expertise. SMART interns and graduates also bring a fresh look on things, particularly as more areas migrate to computerized design, 3D printing and the digital age overall.”

Participants in SMART receive many benefits, chief among them being full tuition and education-related fees and an annual stipend of $25,000 to $38,000, depending on prior educational experience.

Scholarship awardees are assigned to a DOD facility where they are expected to serve as a summer intern and complete a period of post-graduation employment service as a DOD civilian.

Alyssa Rahman is an Air Force SMART intern from Maumelle, Ark., currently in her senior year studying computer science with a security specialization at Southern Methodist University.

“I looked at government scholarships right out of high school, but I didn’t want to commit at that time because I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Rahman said. “My mom found this one searching online for different security-related scholarships. I applied, and now I’m here!”

The employment obligation to the DOD civilian science and technology workforce upon graduation is a one-to-one commitment. Scholarship participants commit to one year of civilian employment with DOD for each academic year of scholarship award.

“The government is opening up a whole other opportunity after I finish my commitment,” Rahman said. “One of the greatest advantages of SMART is the way they place the interns. I’m interacting with different teams and meeting a bunch of different people. I’m actually kind of overwhelmed with all of the options afforded to us.”

“My only regret is not seeing the SMART program sooner,” Wineman said. “It would have saved me a lot of time and effort that wasn’t necessarily along my career path.”

All awardees should be at least 18 years old as of Aug. 1, 2017, and a student in good standing with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale at the time of award.

Active duty military members who wish to apply for the SMART scholarship must be honorably separated or begin terminal leave on or before Aug. 1, 2017, to be eligible. Reserve and National Guard members are eligible to apply as are current government employees. The scholarship application deadline is Dec. 1, 2016.

Additional information and complete eligibility requirements are available on the SMART website at For more information about Air Force personnel programs, go to the myPers website at

All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado

Red Flag adjusts for today’s challenges

Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado Airman 1st Class Alyssa Rodriguez, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 79th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, gathers safety pins from an F-16CM Fighting Falcon du...
Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Sean Carnes

One team: Chaplain supports Tyndall Airmen in hurricane aftermath

Courtesy photograph Chaplain (Capt.) Brian with the 432nd Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., speaks with deployed Airmen at Tyndall AFB, Fla., after Hurricane Michael. Brian was among three other deployed chaplains who led re...
Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie

USAFWC breaks ground on Virtual Test and Training Center

Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, Maj. Gen. Peter Gersten, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center commander, Brig. Gen. William Burks, the Adjutant General for...