Goodman, Steiner earn SMART scholarships


Two University of Nebraska-Lincoln students will return to classes this fall with prestigious scholarships in hand and commitments to work for the U.S. Department of Defense after they graduate.

Paul Goodman, a Ph.D. candidate in analytical chemistry originally from Spragueville, Iowa (pictured on the left), and Austin Steiner of Columbus, who's pursuing a Ph.D. in computer engineering (pictured on the right), have accepted highly competitive scholarships through the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation Scholarship for Service Program, better known as the SMART scholarship program.

The Department of Defense created the program in hopes of increasing the number of civilian scientists and engineers working in its laboratories. The scholarships support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

Three hundred scholarships were awarded this year, program administrators said. More than 3,000 students applied. It was previously announced that Shannon Killion, a UNL graduate student studying environmental engineering, also secured a SMART scholarship this year.

"It's pretty amazing," Steiner said. "I feel really lucky that they picked me."

SMART scholars receive full tuition and aid for other educational expenses, a stipend (from $25,000 to $41,000), health insurance, mentoring and paid summer internships.

Goodman and Steiner are scheduled to graduate from UNL in spring 2013.

Goodman plans to work at the Naval Air Warfare Station-Weapons Division in Ridgecrest, Calif., to help develop supercapacitors, which store and deliver energy. A supercapacitor is much like a battery, although it has a longer life cycle and is regarded as more environmentally friendly.

Supercapacitors could be adapted to provide the boost of power needed to start the gasoline engine after the battery in a hybrid electric vehicle runs dead, but there are promising military applications, too. The military is interested in lowering the weight of the power sources for equipment carried by soldiers, he said.

Goodman will complete his internships in China Lake, Calif.

"It takes a load off my mind," Goodman said. "It's really nice to know what I'm going to be doing for the next six years."

Steiner, who is studying at the Peter Kiewit Institute in Omaha, will head to the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., for his internships and permanent job working with electronic warfare.

Steiner said the scholarship offers him better focus when it comes to his schoolwork. Now that he knows what he'll be doing after graduation, he can select his classes based on the specific skills he'll need, he said.

WRITER: Jean Ortiz Jones