SMART Scholar Joins DoD STEM Workforce
Munson to manage the Army's extramural basic research portfolio in fluid dynamics
Dr. Matthew Munson, a Department of Defense (DoD) Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship awardee, has joined the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce to help meet the Department’s mission of the advancement and acceleration of scientific and technological innovations. Dr. Munson was part of the 2009 SMART Scholarship Program Cohort, and after completing his degree, he began working as a research aerospace engineer for the Army, managing its extramural basic research portfolio in fluid dynamics. He recommends funding for aerodynamics research within academia, allowing the Army to use the results of the universities’ research to enhance the design of helicopters and defense systems. Dr. Munson is also a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship awardee and has directly attributed his current position to both the SMART and NDSEG DoD programs.
“The NDSEG fellowship and SMART scholarship provided me with vital financial support for my doctoral education, which afforded a significant level of freedom to pursue scientific research as a graduate student,” Dr. Munson said. “As such, I was able to start working immediately after I completed my degree, entering the ARL as a research aerospace engineer. The position I hold now is really a once-in-a-career opportunity that I’m enjoying immensely.”
SMART is a scholarship-for-service program that provides full tuition and other financial benefits in exchange for a period of post-graduation civilian service in a DoD facility. Another benefit of the program comes in the form of internships that allow for broadly relevant hands-on research and work experiences in DoD facilities, thereby enhancing students’ educational experience. The NDSEG program, also sponsored by the DoD, is highly competitive and is awarded to U.S. citizens and nationals who wish to obtain a doctoral degree within a field of 15 supported disciplines. Fellowship recipients receive additional benefits, including full tuition and all mandatory fees, a monthly stipend, and funding for medical insurance.
Dr. Munson believes his position can help further develop and enhance research within his field, while also providing professional and educational support to the graduate community. When asked for words of advice, Dr. Munson stated, “Carefully consider the opportunities before you. Find those that best align with what excites and motivates you — then jump in with both feet! You have to take risks to think great thoughts.”
To learn more about the SMART program and to apply, please visit the DoD SMART website https://smartscholarship.org/.
To learn more about the NDSEG program and to apply, please visit the DoD NDSEG website https://ndseg.asee.org/.
By Emily Tully