College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

CoMFRE graduate student earns prestigious DoD SMART Scholarship

Justin Lajoie, a mechanical engineering graduate student working with Travis Sippel, has received the Department of Defense, Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarship. The scholarship fully funds his education and allows him to focus on his research.

As well as full tuition, the scholarship includes internships and the possibility of full-time positions after graduation at the Department of Defense (DoD). SMART aims to enhance the DoD civilian workforce through student scientists, engineers, and researchers across the united states. The SMART program requires many values of its scholars, including academic excellence, professionalism, leadership, integrity and public service.

In his time at Iowa State, Lajoie graduated with a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering and has worked at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory in nondestructive evaluation, 3D printing and other topics. Continuing his education, Lajoie is studying mechanical engineering and completing research in microwave interaction with wired solid propellants and increasing regression rate of hybrid rockets by liquid layer disruption.

To receive the SMART scholarship, Lajoie wrote a proposal on the research he was interested in and the facility he wanted to partner with.

“The hardest part is proposing your research in 5000 characters (citations included) with no use of pictures,” he said. But he was successful: His application was marked as interesting, and he received a phone interview to see if he meshed well with and have similar goals. The interview went well, and he received the scholarship.

This award has guaranteed a job after graduation and summer internships. Until then, however, Lajoie has many years left to study with Sippel, associate professor of mechanical engineering and CoMFRE affliate, and other colleagues in CoMFRE.

In preparation for an eventual full-time position at the DoD, internships and research with CoMFRE have allowed Lajoie to build a network and write proposals before working.

“While many students may be apprehensive about committing to a job before they graduate, as a Ph.D. candidate, I feel fortunate to have the support of the DoD and the opportunity to be a part of CoMFRE,” Lajoie said.