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The College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology

Two MAE students receive scholarship from the Department of Defense

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Media Contact: Kristi Wheeler | Manager, CEAT Marketing and Communications | 405-744-5831 |

Two Oklahoma State University Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) students were awarded the 2022 Department of Defense’s (DOD) Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarships.

The DOD SMART scholarship for 2022 is a selective program that funds students' tuition and grants an annual stipend between $25,000-$38,000. Recipients also receive internships and guaranteed employment with the DOD after graduation.

Zack Krawczyk graduated from OSU in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace and mechanical engineering. He is also in the second semester of obtaining a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. Being awarded the scholarship will allow him to continue his education by obtaining a doctorate in aerospace engineering.

“This decision would not have been possible without the financial assistance offered by this scholarship,” Krawczyk said. “This award will also facilitate the transition into my professional career, as every summer I will gain invaluable internship experience with the DOD.”

Krawcyzk’s interest in military technology developed at a young age and heavily influenced the path he chose for his college career.

“Whenever the class went to the elementary school library, instead of reading novels and tales of fiction, I would always check out books that had amazing pictures of aircraft like the B-2 or the F-22,” Krawcyzk said. “This ultimately motivated me to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering. Naturally, working with the DOD would allow myself to relive the same passion and excitement that led me down this path.” 

Krawcyzk is thankful for the love and support he has received throughout his academic journey from his parents Susan and John Krawczyk. He also appreciates Dr. James Manimala, Dr. Kurt Rouser and Dr. Ryan Paul for helping him through the scholarship application process.

“Due to the efforts of professors like these at OSU, students gain the ability to grow and achieve their goals and dreams,” Krawcyzk said. “Their work is what makes OSU great.”

Nick Nowak is currently a Master of Science student in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at OSU and he works as a graduate researcher in the Solid and Structural Dynamics Lab advised by Dr. James Manimala.  He received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, in 2021.

“I originally came to Oklahoma State in the summer of 2018 as a freshman undergraduate with the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates,” Nowak said. “I participated with Dr. Ranji Vaidyanathan’s research group with Lynsey Baxter as a graduate mentor. This was where my interest in continuing my studies at OSU stemmed from.”

Nowak’s involvement with the DOD is generational. His dad and grandfather have both been employed as civilians within the DOD through involvement with the Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) and their subordinate commands Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Command (CERCOM) and Army Research Lab (ARL).

“With such exposure to the DOD, I have always been interested in working with and developing cutting edge technology to support the nation’s warfighters and to help ensure their safe return home,” Nowak said. “I figure these young men and women are willing to go out and fight and give everything they have to ensure our country is safe and secure — it is only right that I help to work toward keeping them safe in the field.”

Before receiving the SMART scholarship, Nowak was working as a graduate teaching assistant. Now that he is fully funded for the duration of working toward his degree, he is able to prioritize research activities. 

“I was worried that I may not be able to complete everything I need to in order to complete my degree program in two years, but now I have more time to dedicate to my work without having to worry about getting assignments graded or holding office hours,” Nowak said.

Nowak is thankful for the support and encouragement of his family, especially his parents Mary and Ed Nowak, throughout the application process and throughout his academic career.  He also wants to extend a special thank you to Drs. Ranji Vaidyanathan, Philip LaPorta and Ed Panuska for their contributions to his application.

Dr. Harimkar, head of MAE, is proud of both students for their accomplishment and for being a good representation of the opportunity provided through MAE.

“I’m very proud of Nick and Zack for being selected for the highly competitive DOD SMART Scholarships,” Harimkar said. “This scholarship program will support their graduate studies, internships, and careers in STEM disciplines. Their selection also represents the reputation of our programs in educating and developing talent in the areas critical to DOD.”

Story By: Bailey Sisk |

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