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Local student receives prestigious scholarship
SMART award guarantees Merced College grad a spot with the Department of Defense
Edwin Betady poses in front of a model of the rover, Curiosity that is currently on Mars at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. - photo by Photo Contributed

The Department of Defense often goes out of its way to recognize and support the education of America’s future scientists, one of which is Turlock resident Edwin Betady.

The former Merced College student will be continuing his education at Cal Poly Pomona this fall after receiving the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation, or SMART, Scholarship – an extremely competitive award that provides recipients with not only fully-paid tuition, but also guaranteed employment with the DoD.

The SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program offers scholarships to undergraduate, masters and doctoral students who have demonstrated ability and special aptitude for excelling in the Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. Students are also provided opportunities to continue their research in DoD civil service roles following graduation.

 “I’ve been interested in STEM since about 2010,” said Betady. “It kind of was initiated by my childhood; I was always interested in airplanes and cars.”

Betady’s love for STEM led him to enroll at Merced College, where he majored in aerospace engineering while completing his general engineering transfer requirements for Cal Poly Pomona. While at Merced College, Betady also landed a place in a NASA semester-long program where he participated in an online course that features lectures from NASA engineers on web cameras. It also required students to develop a 3D rover on their computer and a legitimate mission to Mars backed by scientific data. He also participated in a full-time, paid internship at NASA in the aeromechanics branch.

It was while considering a position with the CIA that Betady came across the SMART Scholarship. While contacting a former mentor at NASA for a letter of recommendation, Betady was told about the scholarship and was encouraged to apply for a DoD position as well. After applying, Betady soon received the news that he had been awarded the scholarship.

“It was fantastic,” said Betady. “It’s amazing because my tuition will be fully-paid and I’ll have a full time job.”

Benefits of the SMART Scholarship include a cash award paid at a rate of $25,000 to $38,000 per year, depending on prior educational experience, full tuition and related education expenses, health insurance allowance, summer internships and post-graduate career opportunities.

After graduating from Cal Poly Pomona, which he expects to do by 2019, Betady will be employed by the Los Angeles Air Force Base where he will work in the Space and Missiles Center. Though he is still waiting to see in which areas he will be placed, Betady hopes to work in either launch enterprises or remote sensing. Launch enterprises works on the rockets that send defense satellites into orbit, as well as space equipment, and remote sensing helps the DoD to see if countries have fired missiles by using infrared technology.