This month, Sylvia Pimentel, civil engineer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Chicago District, was awarded the Department of Defense Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship.
This unique opportunity offers students hands-on experience at one of over 200 of the nation’s most innovative laboratories across the Army, Navy, Air Force, and larger Department of Defense. This scholarship provides students with full tuition for up to five years, summer internships, a stipend, and full-time employment with the Department of Defense after graduation.
Pimentel started her career with the Corps in January 2019 as a recent graduate in the Pathways Program, made up of three streamlined developmental programs tailored to promote employment opportunities for students and recent graduates in the federal workforce.
“As an entry level civil engineer in a two year training program, I completed three-month developmental assignments in the offices of civil design and cost estimating, geotechnical engineering, environmental engineering, project planning, structural engineering, hydrology and hydraulics, construction management, and project management,” she said.
In May 2018, she received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). In January 2021, she was given a permanent position in the Corps’ Hydrology & Hydraulics Section.
With the SMART scholarship, she plans to attend UIC this August to obtain her master’s degree in civil engineering with a concentration in water resources/environmental engineering. She anticipates graduating in May 2022.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree and keep working at the Corps,” Pimentel said. “I’m beyond exited, and I’m looking forward to returning to UIC this fall semester.”
The Department of Defense is the largest employer of scientists and engineers in the nation with nearly 300,000 STEM professionals. For over a decade, SMART has trained a highly skilled STEM workforce that competes with the evolving trends of industry to support the next generation of science and technology for our nation.
For more information on the SMART Program or to learn how students can apply, please visit www.smartscholarship.org. The application is open annually from August through December.