2009 SMART Applicant Student Brief (Powerpoint)
Who am I?
I'm a Senior Aeronautical/Mechanical Engineer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute--applied in December 2008 after hearing about the SMART Scholarship from a 2008 recipient. Starting Summer 2010, I will be working in propulsion testing at Edward's Air Force Base.
I have made this site with the hope of answering many of the questions that applicants will have during the application process. Please post any new questions, and I will be happy to help find you an answer.
BEFORE YOU APPLY
Generally speaking, if your major is on the list (http://smart.asee.org/about) you're good. However, the idea is that you stay with the government after you complete your required service. Also, pre-med doesn't count. Engineering (Electrical, Areo, Mechanical, Civil) majors generally get the most awards but Computer Science awards are increasing.
It is imperative that you select preferred facilities that are relevant to your field of study. When the application database is searched, facilities will be looking for those who have selected them as an option. Facilities may also look at applicants who are close geographically or who go to schools with high competences rates (This is not fair). You can find facility descriptions here: http://smart.asee.org/sponsoring_facilities
2011 average was about 3.75. Anything below 3.5 is not very competitive.
I am going to be a freshman in the fall. The application opens in August; how would they determine my GPA if I have not even started my classes?
You will submit your High School GPA and standardized test scores.
Essays (Summary of Goals, Research Experience)
Yes, this part is important. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Know your audience. Broadly, you are writing to the Department of Defense, more specifically, you are writing to your future mentor at one of your preferred facilities. Either way, your essay should be related to your major and what your are interested in working on. If you are an Aero/Mech who listed Edwards AFB and Eglin AFB as your first choices, you better say something about flight testing. Possibly what you have worked on in the past, or what you might be interested in doing.
- "We [the DoD] are not nice people, we kill people for a living." This was said at orientation, and I won't say by whom, and I'm taking it horribly out of context, but you get the idea. Generally speaking, the DoD is not interested in the environment or protecting the desert tortoise. You are not applying to Greenpeace. Unless environmental conservation is relevant to a program that you are interested in, don't mention it.
- Talk about how you want to work for your facility even after your service commitment is completed.
- If you do not have any research experience, that's okay. This is pegged as a research scholarship, but not every facility is looking to fill research positions. If you do not have research experience just talk about what experience you do have. Or even what experience you will have by the time you graduate.
- Say you want to give back to the country and protect it from bad guys. I would suggest putting a few more adjectives and a synonym or two in there.
- Have someone else spell and grammar check it...unlike what I have done for this forum.
Do I have to be nominated by my school to apply?
The only nominations per say are your letters of recommendation.
How many applicants are there? Acceptance Statistics?
These numbers are approximation. SMART does not actually publish the statistics. These numbers are just what I or someone else remembered hearing at orientation.
2011: 6900 application, 293 Awards, 4.3 Percent Acceptance Rate
2010: 3400 application, 298 Awards, 8.8 Percent Acceptance Rate
2009: 2200 application, 263 Awards, 12 Percent Acceptance Rate
AFTER YOU APPLY
- December 15 - Submitted Application
- Early February - Semi-Finalists are notified.
- March - Most phone interviews are conducted. (It's good to get a phone interview but does not necessarily mean anything)
- April 1- Acceptance emails were sent at 5pm Friday, April 1st. (SMART has a sense of humor)
- July - Orientation
I was selected as an alternate, when will I know if I have been awarded a scholarship?
In 2009, awards were still being given out the week before orientation. The SMART team tries their best to let you know early, but they also adjust their budget as much as possible to allow for more participants. This includes adjusting for declined awards and varying tuition costs.
If I am rejected freshman year, can I apply again sophomore, junior, senior year?
You are encouraged to re-apply your sophomore and junior years. A senior is not eligible unless they have been accepted or are applying to a graduate program
Does every facility interview candidates before making their recommendations to the SPO?
"Sponsoring Facilities do not contact us with information about phone interviews and contacts; however, interviews typically are held until the middle of March. It is our understanding that not all facilities will contact applicants, even if they are recommending them for a scholarship."
Are the 3 facilities I specified the only ones who will receive my application? Will my application be sent to other facilities if some of my preferred facilities choose not to take awardees?
"All facilities have access to your application so facilities may take interest in sponsoring you, even if you did not list them on your application."
Will I be notified on/near March 15 if I was not recommended to SPO for award, or will I just have to assume I was not if I never get an interview from SPO?
"All semi-finalists will receive notification at the end of March if they have been selected as an awardee. The SMART Program has not notified us as to whether next-level notifications will go out before then or not."
AFTER YOU RECEIVE AN AWARD
Direct Deposit from ASEE every third Friday of the month. However, you may not receive the full amount depending on the length of your award. For instance, I was selected in April, orientation was June, and payments started in August at 25,000/12 months = $2083.33. However, I will only receive this while I am not working for my facility. Assuming I start working on July 1, 2010, I will only be paid by SMART for 10 months x $2083.33.
Just a little note, probably the only time you will ever need to contact ASEE, other than mailing in a few forms, is if you have a payment issue. Otherwise, you always deal with SMART directly.
What happens if I am awarded a scholarship and SMART goes away?
SMART balances their budget on a per student basis. This means that once you receive and accept the award, SMART has already secured funding for your entire academic career. Should the program be dissolved, your tuition will continue to be paid, you will continue to receive your stipend, and you will still have to complete your post-graduation commitment.
The 2009 budget was $27.108 Million, which works out to ~$103,000 per student.
What happens if I die?
Yes, this has been asked and has occurred. SMART will not seek reimbursement of any funds.