Augustana Sophomore Earns SMART Scholarship Through Department of Defense

Augustana University sophomore Abby Martin

Augustana University sophomore Abby Martin is a computer science and mathematics double major from North Prairie, Wisconsin.

An Augustana sophomore has been awarded a Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship through the Department of Defense (DoD).

Abby Martin, a computer science and mathematics double major from North Prairie, Wisconsin, will receive full tuition for the remainder of her time at Augustana. She’ll also have opportunities to participate in summer research and internships; will receive guidance from mentors; and is guaranteed employment with the Missile Defense Agency in Colorado Springs, Colorado, after graduation.

The SMART Scholarship for Service Program was designed to support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The program’s goal is to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working at DoD laboratories. Last year, only 207 SMART scholarships were awarded nationwide.

Martin, who is also a member of Augustana’s women’s golf team, said she’s drawn to math and computer science because she enjoys solving problems creatively.

“I like the puzzle aspect. You learn all these basic skills that can allow you to build things you want. I think that's really fascinating about computer science and math.”

Sophomore Abby Martin

Martin said she’ll visit the Missile Defense Agency this summer to learn more about what her position will be after graduation.

Long term, Martin said she plans to pursue graduate school with a goal of teaching at the college level someday.

Dr. Stephen Shum, associate professor of computer science, called Martin “one of the best students I have ever worked with.”

“Abby is mature, friendly, and funny. She never complains about the points she missed, but rather reworks and reworks until she gets it right. She never complains about helping fellow students, and she is always eager to give them her insights. And when there are a few minutes before class time, we can always count on Abby to crack a computer science joke to put the class into the right mood,” Shum said. 

Dr. Martha Gregg, associate professor and chair of mathematics at Augustana, said Martin’s creativity, tenacity, and appetite for challenging questions will serve her well as she pursues her educational and professional goals.

“Abby has great mathematical skill as well as the stamina and persistence for tackling tough problems,” Gregg said. “If her first attempt is unsuccessful, she drops by, poses a few clarifying questions, then cheerfully launches a second attempt.  On a couple of occasions she has surprised me by finding new approach to a proof, different from the expected technique.”

Last summer, Martin participated in a scientific research project at Marquette University through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates Initiative. At Marquette, she studied "Electric load forecasting using linear regression model trees,” a project through which she predicted electric loads on a day-by-day basis.

At Augustana, she counts Dr. Martha Gregg (mathematics), Dr. Lindsay Erickson (mathematics) and Dr. Stephen Shum (computer science) among her most influential professors.

“I’ve been writing some code for Dr. Erickson – she’s very supportive,” Martin said. “And Dr. Gregg is just great. She expects so much out of you, but I think that's great for a professor. Dr. Shum expects the best that you are capable of giving him and therefore I push myself to do the best work I can do."