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2 WKU engineering students receive prestigious SMART Scholarships

WKU continues to be a leader in the prestigious Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship as Matthew LaHood of Bowling Green, Ky., and Cody Mahan of Seymour, Tenn., are the most recent recipients of the award from the U.S. Department of Defense.

In all, seven students from WKU, including three from the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky, have been selected as SMART Scholars in recent years.

The SMART program awards scholars who demonstrate exceptional ability in STEM (science, math, engineering or technology) fields. Mahan and LaHood, both electrical engineering majors in the Department of Engineering at WKU, will receive funding for their tuition and education-related fees, a cash award of at least $25,000, professional mentoring, and guaranteed employment after graduation.

“For Cody and Matthew to both receive the prestigious, nationally competitive SMART scholarship is strong evidence of their pursuit of excellence,” said Dr. Walter Collett, associate professor of electrical engineering at WKU. “They approach challenging, open-ended projects with enthusiasm and resourcefulness. I have no doubt that they will enjoy tremendous success in their careers as electrical engineers.”

LaHood, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, wanted to continue to serve the country while furthering his education. A senior, he chose to pursue that goal with the SMART Scholarship.

“I feel it’s important to provide our military with the most advanced tools possible to ensure every battlefield advantage,” he said. “I thought this would be best achieved through performing research and development for the Department of Defense.”

LaHood, the son of Becky and David LaHood, will fulfill his service requirement at Warner Robins Air Force Base near Macon, Ga., to provide product development and support for aircraft avionics and air battle management systems.

“I would like to thank Dr. Vladimir Dobrokhotov of the Department of Physics. He was absolutely instrumental in this accomplishment,” he said. “He not only brought the scholarship to my attention but fully supported and encouraged me throughout the process.”

Mahan, a senior, is currently completing an internship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, funded by the Department of Energy.

“I loved the fact that this was a scholarship for service and that it supplied me with a job once I complete my degree at WKU,” he said. “All of this added up to an amazing deal that could not be beaten.”

Mahan will also be employed at Warner Robins Air Force Base. There he will be working to implement new technology so that older aircraft maintain their functionality.

“I received the congratulatory email on my phone during lunch at my internship and, apparently, I went pale,” he said. “It took several days for the gravity of the situation to weigh in.”

Mahan, the son of Lisa and Paul Mahan, thanks his family for their support of his educational endeavors and for dedication of the faculty and staff at WKU and within the Department of Engineering.

“I feel very fortunate to attend WKU and know the quality education I have achieved will carry me through the rest of my promising career,” he said.

About SMART: Any student majoring in a field related to science, technology, engineering or mathematics is eligible to apply for the SMART Scholarship. Sponsored by the Department of Defense, SMART provides a stipend, offers internships opportunities, and covers the cost of tuition, books and health insurance. Additionally, SMART scholars are guaranteed employment after graduation. A representative from the SMART Scholarship program will be visiting WKU this fall. For more information, follow the Office of Scholar Development on Twitter: @WKU_OSD and on Facebook. OSD welcomes the opportunity to work with students interested in the SMART Scholarship or other similar opportunities.

Contact: Dr. Audra Jennings, (270) 745-5043.

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