Mason ECE graduate student gets SMART

Sabrina Kim Stenberg

Getting a Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarship isn’t easy, but it’s a gainful step toward building a career of growth, enrichment, and opportunities within the U.S. government. 

Sabrina Stenberg sees the SMART scholarship as a way to maximize her graduate studies at George Mason while remaining employed as a chemical engineer with the Department of Defense (DoD). Through the scholarship, Stenberg can focus on her master of science in electrical engineering at Mason full-time. 

Stenberg says the scholarship is funded by DoD with the aim of attracting and retaining people into STEM careers at the government level. 

“I am really happy to win this scholarship,” says Stenberg. “This way I can finish in three more semesters and make the most of the experience, connecting with other students and my professors.” 

Stenberg, a Northern Virginia native, says the scholarship is not a one stop source of money. Rather, it requires commitment and accountability so anyone thinking of applying should be prepared. 

“People should be mindful that this scholarship does have conditions,” says Stenberg. “You will be expected to commit to your program of study, keep up your grades, and agree to fulfill the one-to-one scholarship for service time commitment with DoD for every year of funded study. Any withdrawals can result in penalties, like paying back your tuition.” 

She feels the conditions are worth it, as it will open up the doors to plenty of great job opportunities.  

“In my current job, I became more interested in electronics and I decided to combine that interest by studying control and robotics,” says Stenberg. “It’s a valuable area to learn about as there are a lot of autonomous systems within the military.  

Although Stenberg was already employed by DoD, anyone interested in SMART does not have to be employed before applying. Potential applicants do need to be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, have a high GPA, and be able to accept employment with DoD after graduating. 

The SMART program, part of the DoD science, technology, engineering, and mathematics portfolio provides STEM students with the tools needed to pursue higher education and begin a rewarding career with the DoD. Scholarship winners can receive full tuition as well as a stipend and full-time employment after graduation.