University News

Department of Defense Awards SMART Scholarships to WNE College of Engineering Students

Published: April 26, 2022 | Categories: Engineering, All News

The Western New England University (WNE) College of Engineering is pleased to announce the 2022 award recipients of the nationally competitive Department of Defense Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (DoD SMART) Scholarship. The honorees include Mechanical Engineering sophomores Helen Gillespy, Dante Talamini, and Kyle Young. These talented scholars join Brian Cooper who is a 2021 SMART Scholarship recipient from WNE.

The Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation Scholarship for Service Program is an opportunity for students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines to receive full tuition along with monthly stipends, health insurance and book allowances, as well as summer internships that range from 8 to 12 weeks. Upon degree completion, scholars begin working in civilian positions with their sponsoring facility.

Helen Gillespy, a sophomore mechanical engineering student at Western New England University, will begin her journey as an intern at the Naval Warfare Center- Carderock Division in West Bethesda, Maryland next summer. In West Bethesda, Geillespy will collaborate with a team of engineers to research and test battery safety on submarines.

Gillespy explains, "I am excited to have the opportunity to work on such an interesting and important project," adding "growing up as a military child, national security has always been an issue close to my heart."

Gillespy has shown promise in the engineering field, being awarded the Walter J. Azar award, given to a student who has demonstrated exceptional academic achievement in engineering computer courses. Outside of the classroom, Helen has gained leadership experience as a peer advisor, the treasure of the Society of Women Engineers, and as a member of the women's ice hockey team at Western New England University.

"I'm truly honored and humbled to be selected as a SMART scholar, said Gillespy after receiving the scholarship. "These past two years were difficult for many, and I would like to thank all of my professors who went above and beyond to educate me, despite the circumstances. It is because of their hard work and dedication that I have been able to be successful in and out of the classroom."

Dante Talamini is elated by his opportunity to work with the DEVCOM Soldier Center in Natick, MA under the guidance of a team focused on Optical and Electromagnetic Materials. The core domains of the Soldier Center's work are Basic and Early Applied Research, Aerial Delivery Systems, Clothing and Protective Equipment, Combat Feeding, Expeditionary Support, Human Systems Integration, and Soldier/Small Combat Technologies. His interest in the program and the Soldier Center comes from the crossroads of his interest in product design and human-centric high-performance operations.

"I come from having participated in physically demanding outdoor activities for my entire life," said Talamini. "I can personally understand the importance of having, using, or wearing equipment that is adequately suited to the task at hand. In combat scenarios the importance of having reliable and effective gear is stepped up to the next level—it becomes a matter of life or death. My energetic interest in this high-stakes field, along with budding skill in design work and a special interest in specialized textiles make me a perfect fit for this opportunity. I can't wait to get started."

Dante brings this same intensity and enthusiasm into his personal life, whether it be spending time with friends and family, mountain biking and rock climbing, or designing and building gizmos. He believes this opportunity with the SMART Program will allow him to double-down on his learning efforts and achieve his personal goal: "I want to become the best applied engineer I can be, bar none."

Kyle Young will have the opportunity to work with the U.S. Army DEVCOM Armaments Center at Watervliet Arsenal in upstate New York. The facility is critical to the nation's defense and is responsible for the research and development of new armaments and munitions responding to the needs of the modern-day soldier.

Young is a motivated sophomore student at Western New England University pursuing his Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering. He works as a Lab Technician in the University's machine shop and is a Teaching Assistant for freshman introduction to engineering classes.

Outside of school, Young enjoys many outdoor activities including hiking, skiing, and kayaking. Other areas of interest involve woodworking and CNC machining. Young enjoys tinkering and creating practical solutions to real-world problems. He hopes to bring his ingenuity and passion for engineering to the facility. At Watervliet, he will be working in the subtractive and additive manufacturing departments developing cutting-edge technology.

Brian Cooper is a 2021 SMART Scholarship recipient from WNE. Cooper is very proud to have received the opportunity to work for the U.S. Army DEVCOM Armaments Center at the Watervliet Arsenal in New York. He will be working in Benet Laboratories, the Army's premier research and design facility for large caliber weapons. Brian has always prioritized hard work and problem solving and is excited to continue his efforts at the Watervliet Arsenal.

When asked about this award, Cooper said, "Having the privilege of receiving such an award is an honor that I hold very close to me. I have always been interested in the advancement of technology for artillery, weapons systems, and so much more and I am excited to expand upon those interests at Benet Labs. I understand the importance of the work that I will be doing, and I am thrilled to be able to contribute in any way that I can. I have had the opportunity to visit my facility and see the areas that I will be working and my excitement and passion for the field has continued to grow to this day."

Cooper pairs his engineering work with his physical health, participating in powerlifting and boxing to ensure that he maximizes his physical and mental capabilities. He has used this opportunity to expand his studies into dual minors of Mathematical and Computer Science, with plans of also achieving a Mechatronics Concentration.

The Department of Defense (DoD) civilian workforce is responsible for solving our Nation's most complex challenges by developing the next generation of defense technologies. DoD's culture of innovation requires a diverse and highly-talented science, technology,engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce.