Meet a Pair of SMART Engineering Students

Emily Barrett, associate director of communications
Sean Crook and Nick Lambert pose and smile outside of Kirkbride Hall

A pair of engineering students are on track to join the Department of Defense’s (DoD) civilian workforce to innovate the science and engineering technology behind some of the country’s service branches.

Juniors Sean Crook and Nick Lambert are the latest Widener recipients of the DoD’s SMART Scholarship program. The highly-competitive program, which is an acronym for Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation, offers scholars full tuition, an annual stipend, and sponsored internships at one of the DoD’s facilities.
In addition to the generous financial and internship opportunities, the program offers a scholarship-for-service component, meaning that for every year of tuition funding, scholars commit to working for a year with the DoD as a civilian employee.

According to Lambert, the dual educational and workforce development opportunity is shaping his undergraduate experience and laying the foundation for his dream career.

“I get to work alongside professional engineers in the Department of Defense, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do ever since I was younger,” said Lambert, a mechanical engineering major.  

Lambert’s scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center in Philadelphia. He will participate in a sponsored summer internship and anticipates that the experience will provide direct insight into his future career.

“I wanted to work on aircrafts or warships and now I’m going to be doing that,” Lambert said, referring to his future job responsibilities which will involve testing, analyzing, and designing components for military vehicle machinery.

For classmate Crook, an electrical engineering major, the sense of purpose and the opportunity to join professionals from across the country to advance complex defense technologies are what attracted him to working with DoD.

“The best part of being in the Air Force is I can meet people from across the United States so I get perspectives of different engineering disciplines from across the nation,” said Crook.

Crook was accepted into the program in his freshman year with a sponsorship at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center in Ohio, a facility operated by the U.S. Air Force. 

Before being selected as scholars, both Crook and Lambert underwent the extensive application process which reviews thousands of applicants each year ranging from undergraduate to doctoral-level students.

Crook credits the support he received from engineering faculty as well as guidance from Career Design & Development for standing out in the crowded applicant pool. 

“I went to Career Design & Development and they helped me out with my resume to try and make it professional,” said Crook. “They also did mock interviews and gave me guidance on how to talk to professors about recommendation letters.”

Gaining this industry-level experience as an undergraduate puts the engineering course work, from both past and future classes, into context for Crook and Lambert. The pair are positioned to draw the real-world applications taught in their classes and apply them to the work they will do after graduation.

“I can clearly see what I’m learning in class, such as fluid mechanics and thermodynamics, is going to apply directly to what I’ll be doing with the Department of Defense. There’s definitely a correlation between my classes and the work that I’ll be doing,” said Lambert. 

Crook agreed and added that the immersive internship experience “helps me not only now, but I’ll know even more going into classes in the future that will help me succeed further into my career.”

Looking ahead to their final years at Widener and in the scholarship program, the pair are prepared to transition with the confidence and skill set to succeed at their dream jobs.

“It’s really a dream come true,” said Lambert.

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