SMART scholars get immersed in the business of software

  • Published
  • By Grady Epperly
  • Air Force Sustainment Center

Recipients of the Department of Defense Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation Scholarship-for-Service Program received a glimpse into the inner workings of the 76th Software Engineering Group during a one-day immersion at Tinker Air Force Base June 6.

The SMART Scholarship is a combined educational and workforce development opportunity for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students.

These 13 scholars will be interning with the Air Force Sustainment Center’s 76th SWEG during the summer of 2025.

“This will be an incredible opportunity for you scholars to see what service to your country is all about,” said Dr. Kristian Olivero, director of the 76th SWEG. “We look at this internship from a standpoint of not what can you do for us, but what can we do for you.”

The SMART program offers scholarships for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students currently pursuing a degree in one of the 24 STEM disciplines. SMART scholars receive full tuition, annual stipends, and guaranteed employment with the DOD upon graduation.

“Our Air Force is in immediate need of electrical engineers, computer scientists and an ever-growing list of other STEM-related professionals,” said Huy Le, deputy director of the 76th SWEG.

“While working here you’ll have the opportunity to experience many aspects of how we do our part in defending our nation,” Le told the scholars.

“SMART scholars do receive a lot of financial benefits while in the program, but the real benefit is in the mentorship opportunities and networking skills they’ll learn while here,” said Marlon Wilson, scientist and engineer force renewal and SMART program manager for the Engineering and Technical Management Directorate.

“I’ve had the opportunity to run the SMART program for Tinker for four years now and the caliber of talented and innovative minds never ceases to amaze me,” added Wilson.

SMART is a one-for-one commitment; for every year of degree funding, the scholar commits to working for a year with the DOD as a civilian employee.

“We are the workforce that is responsible for solving our nation's most complex challenges by maintaining and developing the next generation of defense technologies to deter and defeat those who want to do us harm,” Olivero said. “This program gives us the opportunity to prepare the next generation for full-time employment and get them accustomed to working for the Air Force.”

For more information on the SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program visit