MACON – Four Mercer University School of Engineering students were recently awarded Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarships by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
Timothy Hood, Landon McNeill, Ruby Rhoden and Jamie Rutledge will receive full tuition, an annual stipend and additional allowances while at Mercer for each year they commit to working for the DoD after graduation. They will also participate in a summer research internship and be paired with a mentor at one of the scholarship program’s sponsoring facilities.
“We are proud to celebrate this award with four outstanding engineering students,” said Dr. Laura Lackey, dean of the School of Engineering. “What a fabulous scholarship and opportunity provided by the Department of Defense through the SMART program.”
All four students are participating in the School of Engineering’s 4+1 Master of Science in Engineering program that allows them to earn both bachelor’s and master’s degrees over five years of study.
Hood, from Lawrenceville, is a senior majoring in computer engineering. Upon completion of his master’s degree, he will work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, in the Air Force Research Laboratory. He also plans to pursue a Ph.D. in software engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology.
“The SMART Scholarship program is perfect for me because it encompasses everything I want to do in a career,” Hood said. “My brother is in the military, so it is my passion to have a career in which I can provide benefit to the armed forces to the best of my ability.”
At Mercer, Hood has developed the DustDuino, a low-cost air pollution monitor that was taken to the Dominican Republic for a Mercer On Mission trip in the summer of 2017. The project has since won several awards and been presented at several conferences and other venues, including this spring’s “Posters at the Capitol” event in Atlanta.
He is a 2017 recipient of the C.B. and Olive Gambrell Scholarship and a 2018 recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, as well as a member of Mercer’s Reformed University Fellowship campus ministry and the Mercer Robotics Club and a visiting student researcher at the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Warner Robins.
McNeill, from Winfield, Alabama, is a rising senior majoring in mechanical engineering. Upon completion of his master’s degree, he will work at Robins Air Force Base in the 461st Maintenance Group, responsible for maintenance, logistics and combat support of 17 E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar Systems (JSTARS) aircraft.
“I am very thankful for the SMART Scholarship and the support it provides as I work toward finishing my degrees in the School of Engineering,” he said.
Rhoden, from Duluth, is a rising junior majoring in biomedical engineering and minoring in chemistry. Upon completion of her master’s degree, she will work at the U.S. Army National Ground Intelligence Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“I am very thankful for the support of my family, friends and the outstanding guidance of my professors and administrators at Mercer who helped me achieve this goal,” she said. “I look forward to my journey towards an empowering career for the U.S. Department of Defense in national security.”
Rhoden was a 2018 recipient of the Boren Scholarship, which allowed her to study Mandarin Chinese and experience Chinese culture for two months during the summer at Beijing Language and Culture University. She is also a member of the National Society of Black Engineers at Mercer.
Rutledge, from Sugar Hill, is a rising junior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in technical communications. Upon completion of her master’s degree, she will work at Robins Air Force Base in the 78th Civil Engineer Group, responsible for providing, operating, maintaining, restoring and protecting the managed assets of the base’s infrastructure and facilities.
“I’m thankful for this amazing career opportunity,” she said. “It’s great to know what I will be doing when I graduate and have a place to apply what I’m learning at Mercer.”
Rutledge is involved in the America Reads America Counts tutoring program at Mercer.
The SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program was established as a concentrated effort to enhance the DoD workforce with talented, innovative and brilliant scientists, engineers and researchers. For more than a decade, SMART Scholars have been working within labs and agencies of the Army, Navy, Air Force and additional DoD units to support the warfighter and create an impact to secure our nation.
About the School of Engineering
Mercer University’s School of Engineering, founded in 1985, offers innovative and academically challenging programs that provide students with a comprehensive education, featuring a solid foundation in mathematics and sciences, a core engineering curriculum, a range of courses in engineering specialties and a strong emphasis on communication technologies. The School is consistently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top three master’s-degree-level engineering schools in the Southeast. Known for its breadth of instruction in its undergraduate program and its five-year joint bachelor’s and master’s degree program, the School combines technical education with hands-on laboratory experience. Mercer engineers can look forward to joining fellow alumni in companies such as Robins Air Force Base, Lockheed Martin, Georgia Power, Siemens and Gulfstream Aerospace.