Mechanical Engineering student receives Department of Defense SMART Scholarship

SMART Scholarship grants UAB student the opportunity to continue mathematical modeling research.

JordanJoomlaJordan WhitsonJordan Whitson, a graduate student in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, was recently awarded the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation Scholarship for Service Program from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The SMART Scholarship is intended to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics recruitment for the Department of Defense. The scholarship can pay tuition for up to five years, along with a stipend to cover living expenses.

Most SMART funding goes to engineering majors — including 76 percent to electrical, aeronautical, mechanical, civil and computer engineering in 2018 — but it is distributed among candidates from a list of 21 STEM majors. The goal is to promote stellar students and track the retention rate of STEM talent in the DOD field to bolster defense capabilities over time.

Whitson is mentored by Vladimir Vantsevich, Ph.D. He is currently assisting Vantsevich’s research project for the U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center. “In the project course, I learned the importance of making critical assessments of vehicles’ dynamic characteristics on vehicle terrain mobility and performance,” Whitson said. “I performed data analysis and computational simulations in MATLAB on basic terramechanics, powertrain and mobility capabilities for specific vehicles regarding power, torque and drivetrain analysis. I built an interactive database that linked the dynamic characteristics to vehicle mobility and performance.” 

With SMART funding, Whitson says, he intends to continue his research with Vantsevich while working toward a Ph.D. “We will work toward mathematical modeling of the locomotion-ground engagement phenomenon to be applied in real-time control settings,” he said. “We will work toward developing a specific simulation model to accurately predict the conditions a tire will engage to optimize torque and power distribution and maximize mobility for autonomous ground vehicles in severe terrain conditions.”