Seven Auburn Engineering students awarded Department of Defense SMART scholarships

Published: Jul 13, 2023 11:00 AM

By Joe McAdory

Seven Auburn Engineering students were awarded Department of Defense (DoD) Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation Scholarships (SMART) and working on-site this summer.

Emma Akozbek, Seth Markum, Rehman Qureshi, and Alton Stoute from aerospace engineering, Dayton Malone from computer science and software engineering, Mason Holtcamp from materials engineering, and Chase Hittle from electrical and computer engineering will receive full tuition for up to five years, mentorship, summer internships, a stipend and full-time employment with the Department of Defense after graduation through the scholarship.

This opportunity offers students hands-on experience at one of more than 100 innovative laboratories across the Army, Navy, Air Force and larger Department of Defense. During summer internships, SMART scholars work directly with an experienced mentor, gaining valuable technical skills.

Akozbek, a sophomore from Huntsville, is working at the Missile Defense Agency in Huntsville. “I am beyond excited to begin my journey with the Department of Defense,” she said. “This is a dream come true. I cannot wait to see what my future holds.”

Seth Markum, a graduate student enrolled in Auburn University’s distance learning program from Franklin, Tennessee, is working full-time within the Department of Defense. During his SMART program Markum is working at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

“For me, being awarded this scholarship was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” he said. “Working full-time and then attending school part- time presents a long list of challenges, especially with being four years removed from my undergraduate degree when I started my graduate degree. Receiving this scholarship and being able to transition to a full-time student allows me to focus on school and get a lot more out of my classes while also being able to put a lot more in to them.”

Rehman Qureshi, a doctoral candidate from Dothan, is working at the Air Force Research Lab Information Directorate in Rome, New York, and focusing on logistics and development of mega-constellation decision-making environments.

“I’m thrilled to be able to develop my research and apply the skills I’ve acquired while working with Dr. Davide Guzzetti, and many others, in service of the DoD’s mission,” he said.

Alton Stoute, a doctoral candidate from Opelousas, Louisiana, is working at the U.S. Army DEVCOM Army Research Directorate in Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, focusing on material microstructures and computer simulations.

“The SMART scholarship is the biggest academic achievement I have attained to date and stands as proof that my hard work as well as my family’s faith, support and sacrifices were not in vain,” he said.

Dayton Malone, a rising senior from Huntsville, is working at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center in Redstone Arsenal. Malone, who interned as an OSTEM engagement analyst at NASA in 2022, is focusing on software development and testing in the missile defense industry during his scholarship.

“I am sincerely grateful and thankful to the DoD SMART Scholarship selection committee for awarding me with a life-changing opportunity that will allow me to advance in my dream of becoming a software engineer,” he said. “In becoming an Auburn Man, I have learned the importance of hard work and perseverance. I will continue to uphold these principles throughout this experience and into my future career.”

Mason Holtcamp, a junior from Madison, is working at the Redstone Test Center in Huntsville, where he is focusing on additive manufacturing.

“Through the scholarship, I will be provided the resources to grow my abilities as a materials scientist and test engineer,” he said. “I'm excited for a fulfilling career in the defense of our nation.”

Chase Hittle, a sophomore from Madison, is working at the Missile Defense Agency in Huntsville, where he is focusing on electrical engineering. “I am honored to be selected and looking forward to gaining hands-on experience along with my academics from Auburn University,” he said.

The DoD is committed to developing the nation's STEM talent and is the largest employer of federal scientists and engineers with nearly 150,000 civilian STEM employees working across the department. DoD STEM activities support this mission by providing authentic learning experiences through a variety of education and outreach initiatives, such as the SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program. For more than a decade, SMART has trained a highly skilled STEM workforce that competes with the evolving trends of industry to support the nation’s next generation of science and technology.

Media Contact: Joe McAdory,, 334.844.3447
Seven students representing four engineering disciplines were awarded Department of Defense SMART scholarships this year.

Seven students representing four engineering disciplines were awarded Department of Defense SMART scholarships this year.

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