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SMART Program Bolsters Quality of STEM Talent in Defense Civilian Workforce


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Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) is a Department of Defense (DoD) program that provides scholarships for higher education students of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The programs goal is to recruit and retain highly educated and talented STEM students in the DoD civilian science and engineering (S and E) workforce. For each year of scholarship, scholars commit to working for one year as civilians in DoD laboratories, research and development (R and D) centers, and facilities. IDA conducted an in-depth evaluation of SMART to determine whether the programs processes have been effective and whether the outcome has had the desired effects. Analyses of personnel data and of information gathered from interviews and surveys supported the evaluation. A comparison group of S and E civilian workers hired at the DoD with characteristics similar to SMART scholars was constructed and used as a control group in the analyses. For the timeframe evaluated2006 through 201687% of SMART scholars indicated the program benefited their careers and 94% of their managers reported being satisfied with the program. In that timeframe, the program awarded 2,021 scholarships (see table). The majority of awards (about 87%) went to recruitment scholarstalented STEM students who are new to DoD. A survey of these scholars revealed that 30% of them were not aware of S and E workforce opportunities at the DoD prior to applying for SMART. The remaining awards (about 12%) went to retention scholarsexisting DoD civilian employees interested in pursuing higher education in their fields.



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