Mechanical Engineering Undergrad Earns DoD SMART Scholarship

Mechanical engineering third-year Bridgette Kim was awarded the highly competitive Department of Defense Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (DoD SMART) Scholarship.

The award provides students with full tuition for up to five years, summer internships, a stipend, and full-time employment with the Department of Defense after graduation. This unique opportunity gives students hands-on experience at one of over 200 of the nation’s most innovative laboratories across the Army, Navy, Air Force and larger Department of Defense. During summer internships, SMART Scholars work directly with an experienced mentor, gaining valuable technical skills.

After graduation, Kim will work for the Department of Navy at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Norfolk, Virginia.

“I am thrilled and grateful to be chosen as a 2021 SMART recipient and I look forward to my internship next summer focusing on submersible vehicle technology,” said Kim.

At the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Kim will install and trouble-shoot hardware and software solutions on unmanned submersible vehicles (USVs), as well as develop new solutions for automation and control capability for USVs.

Kim says she chose to study mechanical engineering to fulfill her passion for improving the lives of others.

“I knew this field would allow me to branch out in different areas. I have always had an interest in medical/surgical robotics since my dad is an ER physician and I have been immersed in this field through him. But recently my focus of interest has been working on autonomous vehicles, whether sea, land, or air. I had never imagined being able to do this during my undergraduate years. Thanks to this scholarship, I’m now one step closer to achieving my goals,” said Kim, who is also minoring in computer science and robotics.

The Columbia, Maryland native is no stranger to earning recognition for hard work. She was selected for the 2021 National Security Scholars Program and received several scholarships from the American Society for Mechanical Engineers.

Her recent industry experiences include a paid internship at Leidos, where she integrated ROS2 and DDS into 5G/MEC architecture, including building robotic simulations in gazebo and webots with ROS2 and DDS deployments. Currently, she is a research assistant in the lab of Denis Wirtz, Theophilus Halley Smoot Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and vice provost for research at Johns Hopkins University; there she assists with machine learning applications for biological images related to pancreatic cancer, and is using image processing techniques to register and analyze serial histological specimens of mouse hearts for research on congenital heart defects.

Along with her academic and research work, Kim keeps busy outside the classroom with photography and music. She mentors high school STEM students and recruits STEM students for Johns Hopkins University.

The Department of Defense is the largest employer of scientists and engineers in the nation with nearly 300,000 STEM professionals. For over a decade, SMART has trained a highly skilled STEM workforce that competes with the evolving trends of industry to support the next generation of science and technology for our nation.

Story by Catherine Graham and posted on the Mechanical Engineering Department.