Four UNH students have been awarded Science, Math and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarships this spring, a recognition that includes full tuition and post-graduation job placement within the Department of Defense (DoD).
Anne Berg ’24, Olivia Giralt ’26, Jackson Weber ’25 and Colby Wheeler ’25 were this year’s recipients, continuing a to cement UNH’s position as one of the top SMART-scholarship-producing institutions in New England.
Last year the university boasted six recipients, the largest number ever in a single cycle, and between 2006 and 2021 UNH produced 28 recipients, making it the top such producer in New England and placing it in the top 7% nationwide during that span.
SMART scholarships are awarded to undergraduate or graduate students in STEM-related fields and include full tuition and related fees, a $25,000 to $38,000 annual stipend, summer research internships and employment placement within the Department of Defense after graduation.
Berg, an ocean engineering major from Mukwonago, Wisconsin, will be placed at the Naval Research Laboratory at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi during the summer of 2024. The facility features divisions in acoustics, ocean science and remote sensing, all of which makes it an ideal match for Berg, who hopes to pursue a career in ocean engineering research.
She will be taking a site visit June 1 to tour the facility and learn more about the work she’ll be conducting there.
“There are few scholarships that promise funding, an internship and employment. When I became aware of a scholarship that offered all three, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t ignore,” Berg says. “And since the SMART scholarship is sponsored by the Department of Defense, I knew I’d be working with a mission-driven and technologically advanced facility allowing me to conduct impactful research.”
At UNH, Berg is part of the Society of Women Engineers – she was secretary this year – as well as the sailing club. She has previously received the Trustee’s Scholarship and the James and Anne Twaddle Merit Scholarship at UNH.
Giralt, an electrical engineering major from northern New Jersey, will fulfill her placement at the CSISR Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland during the summer of 2024. She is planning to visit the site in late June and said her interview experience made her believe the work she'd be doing there would be a good fit.
"I have always known that I would be happiest in a career that allows me to help others,” Giralt says. “I feel passionate about the SMART scholarship because I want to work with technology that helps America’s soldiers. Having a summer internship and guidance throughout my academic career will hopefully allow me to grow as an individual and as a professional.”
Giralt, who says she would be interested in continuing her career with the DoD, is a member of UNH’s Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and will serve as the group’s secretary for the 2023-24 academic year.
Weber, a mechanical engineering major from Bow, New Hampshire, will complete a placement at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, during the summer of 2024. He sought that location because he felt “their mission aligned best with my career goals” and because of the experience he’ll gain during his internship and after graduation.
He’ll be visiting the site June 28.
“I applied for the scholarship to jumpstart my engineering career as well as have the ability to support myself financially through college,” Weber says. “I hope to gain lots of knowledge in the field of engineering that I am in and be able to apply that in my career. I also pride myself in. having the opportunity to serve my country through my position as a SMART scholar.”
Weber, who hopes to eventually start his own engineering firm that specializes in sustainable engineering manufacturing, has been part of the Ski and Board Club, the Outing Club, the Cybersecurity Club, the ECenter Idea and Innovation Society and the UNH ECenter Shaw Innovation Explorers Group while at UNH. He has previously been awarded the Community Service NHHEAF Network Scholarship.
Wheeler, a mechanical engineering major from Merrimack, New Hampshire, will also fulfill a placement at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard during the summer of 2024. Wheeler chose to pursue the placement in part because he has family members who have served in the Navy. He’ll be visiting the site June 28, as well.
“I chose Portsmouth Naval Shipyard because it’s not only local, but the work being doen there is very interesting to me,” Wheeler says. “I applied for the SMART scholarship to secure valuable experience in my field and to guarantee a job upon graduation.”
Wheeler has been involved with the EVO club at UNH and is a previous recipient of the Trustee’s Scholarship.