Jacob Roberts, a freshman in Louisiana Tech University’s Computer Science program, has been selected for a prestigious U.S. Department of Defense Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation Scholarship (DoD SMART Scholarship).
The DoD SMART Scholarship provides academically successful students with full tuition for up to five years, summer internship opportunities, a stipend, and full-time employment with the Department of Defense after graduation. This unique opportunity offers students hands-on experience at one of more than 200 of the nation’s most innovative laboratories across the Department of Defense. In addition, during summer internships, SMART Scholars work directly with experienced mentors on defense-related projects, gaining valuable technical skills.
“I am so honored to be given this opportunity,” he said, “and I can’t wait to see what possibilities arise in the future during my time at Louisiana Tech and during my SMART internships.”
By the time he begins his first internship in summer 2022, Roberts expects to have a solid background in computer science and cyber security methods from his coursework.
“As a freshman, my classmates and I have already learned the basics of computer science and cyber security and how to apply them to real-life situations. In addition, we have the skills to apply theory to real-world threats because of the Living with Cyber freshman series that Louisiana Tech offers first-year computer science and cyber engineering students. We work hands-on, coding and building with Raspberry Pi systems beginning in our first fall quarter in the programs.
“Another reason that I feel prepared for a career in cyber security is that professors in the computer science and cyber engineering programs give each student personalized attention since the classes are small. I’m able to ask questions and get answers in a way that might not be possible in a larger class. Mr. [Kyle] Prather [adjunct instructor of computer science and creative development director of the Thingery at Louisiana Tech] made it his mission to make sure that every student in my freshman series classes learned the basic theory and skills.”
The Department of Defense is the largest employer of scientists and engineers in the nation with nearly 300,000 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) professionals. For over a decade, SMART has trained a highly-skilled STEM workforce that competes with the industry’s evolving trends to support the next generation of science and technology for our nation.
After graduation, Roberts plans to work at the U.S. Army Engineer Research, Development Center – Information Technology Laboratory in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he will use his education and experience from Louisiana Tech and his summer internships to help protect U.S. infrastructure from cyber attacks.
“I chose to major in computer science because I feel like this is one way that I can help more people. As an Eagle Scout, I learned that I want to help more people, and I feel like computer science is a way to do that since we’re moving toward a more technological future.
“This scholarship is a step toward that goal. I suggest that anyone who’s interested apply for it. It can help relieve a lot of the financial stress, and you get to work with people in your field. Even if you don’t want to stay with the DoD, it will be good on your resume and prepare you for the future. Because the scholarship relates to various STEM fields, anyone in the College of Engineering and Science could be eligible.”