Mechanical engineering undergraduate and SMART Scholar prepares for a future of innovation at the Department of Defense.

Joseph Lee, a recipient of the Department of Defense (DoD) Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarship, wants to create things never seen before.

Joseph Lee

Joseph Lee’s impressive academics were not the only reason he received the prestigious  Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarship. His passion for innovation and continuous curiosity for the way things work are what propelled him to STEM success.

“I have always been intrigued by the way things work,” said Lee. “I would take things apart just to understand them and then put them back together.”

Offered by the Department of Defense (DoD), the SMART Scholarship program provides accepted students with full tuition, annual stipends, internships, and guaranteed employment with the DoD after graduation.

Lee has spent time working on numerous projects, including creating components that went into a patent for a transcranial magnetic stimulation machine, developing code for an autonomous robot and serving for a year as the mechanical team lead for Hyperloop at VCU. In addition, Lee is also involved with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the VCU Biomagnetics Laboratory.

Ravi Hadimani, Ph.D., associate professor and director of Biomagnetics Laboratory, was integral in the development of Lee’s education at VCU. He credits Hadimani as taking him under his wing and teaching him the important skills not learned in a classroom setting.

“The two main things that have helped me to land this award are the problem solving skills and mindset that I have acquired through my coursework as well as the interpersonal skills that I have honed,” said Lee. “All of these skills are vital, and not something that is taught in lectures. Professors provide you with opportunities to practice these skills, but it is up to the student to take said opportunities.”

Lee is taking this amazing opportunity and looking toward the future. His favorite quote, “Ask, search, become,” perfectly exemplifies his goal-oriented mindset.

“I want to employ the skills and knowledge that I am gaining in my education to do my part to protect my country and my family,” said Lee. “I will do this by working for the Department of Defense. I want to create and innovate things that have not been seen or used before.”