Electrical Engineering Student Awarded Department of Defense Scholarship
John Caleb Williams has been awarded the Department of Defense Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation Scholarship, helping fund his education and securing a job at the Space and Missile Defense Command at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama after graduation.
He is focusing his studies at Tennessee Tech in electromagnetics and power.
Williams is from Estill Springs, Tennessee and graduated from Franklin County High School. He attended Motlow State Community College in Tullahoma and received his associate’s of science in electrical engineering. He then began his education at Tech.
“I knew that if I attended Tennessee Tech I would be prepared for a career in electrical engineering as well as have a great amount of weight behind my degree. I feel like Tech has a real potency behind their degrees in engineering and I feel they are well respected throughout the Southeast.”
“I feel like Tech graduates know how to prepare themselves to work for people and with people.”
Williams was also drawn to Tech due to the engineering projects that were shown during a spring showcase that he attended before his first semester at Tech.
“I am very blessed and thankful that I was selected for this award by the DOD. This award will help to make my dreams a reality and allow a financial peace of mind while continuing my education in electrical engineering.”
This national scholarship with thousands of applicants in 2021 with only four hundred recipients being accepted. It provides full coverage of all tuition and fees, a healthcare allowance, a book and miscellaneous allowance, additional internship pay, and a salary to students while they pursue a bachelor’s degree.
“This scholarship is truly an amazing opportunity and allows those who receive it to pursue their education and future without the worries that come with student debt,” Williams said. "Once the student has completed their degree, they begin the time period of working for their DOD facility.”
This unique opportunity offers students hands-on experience at one of over 200 of the nation’s most innovative laboratories across the Army, Navy, Air Force and larger DOD facilities.
“I had always known that I wanted to work on the newest technology,” Williams said. “When I heard of this scholarship, I realized that this was a great opportunity to work as a civilian engineer for the DOD as well as have the chance to potentially be a part of the newest frontier of technology.”
The SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program is a combined educational and workforce development opportunity for bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. students.
One of William’s dream jobs happened to be on the list of locations students in the scholarship program go on to work: the Space and Missile Defense Command at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.
“I also felt that if I received this scholarship, I would be able to give back to my country by helping design and work on new technologies that will be used for the defense of our country,” Williams said.
Williams will be the first in his family to receive a bachelor’s degree.
“My family taught me that if truly I wanted something that it could be obtained through hard work and dedication,” he said. “I have been able to apply their teachings to my education which makes completing this degree feel like something larger than myself.”
Williams will be working for the SMDC starting in January 2023. As part of his scholarship through the DOD, he will have civilian employment at this facility for at least 1.5 to 2 years after graduating from Tech.
“I am excited to get to work for a DOD facility in Rocket City and learn as much as possible from others in this field during the next few years. I also plan to apply the lifelong learning principles taught in our Professional Issues course at Tech by studying for a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from a university in the southeast.”
Williams thinks the best use of an electrical engineering degree is finding ways to give back through forms of service and scholarship.
“I am thankful for my time at Tech and all the opportunities which are available to students at this university. I am also blessed to be chosen as a recipient of this scholarship through the DOD.”
For more information on the SMART Program or to learn how students can apply, please visit www.smart scholarship.org. The application is open annually from August through December.
“I think that there are some really amazing educational and research opportunities for students at Tennessee Tech and I am excited to see what direction the university takes next."