Electrical engineering graduate student Jared Cronin, who recently completed this first year in the Ph.D. program, was selected last month for the Department of Defense (DoD) National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship program. The highly competitive program, which only accepts 7% of applicants, or 200 awards out of 3,000 applicants, is for students interested in furthering their education and military research and development. Cronin will work with a DoD mentor through the Office of Naval Research.
Cronin, who earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of South Carolina in 2021, also earned a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP) but was only allowed to accept one fellowship. The NDSEG fellowship covers three years of full tuition and provides a stipend and travel allowance.
Why did you want to pursue the fellowships?
I did my undergraduate through the Honors College, and they encourage students to apply for national fellowships. The two that made the most sense for me were the NDSEG and GRFP. My goals in applying were the financial support for more freedom in academics and research, and the prestige of being chosen for a selective fellowship. It was also great exposure to writing proposals which I had not done before.
Was it a difficult decision to choose the NDSEG fellowship rather than the GRFP?
Yes. They're both very prestigious, but the NDSEG is more selective. It also offered better financial support with covering tuition and a larger stipend. The project I'm working on is defense related, so it fit well with my work. That tailored really well with the next couple years of my research.
What does it mean to receive the NDSEG fellowship?
It's a gratifying recognition of the potential they see in me to be a leader in research. It also sets me up well to pursue future opportunities because it’s a first step along my research journey. Being recognized this early is a good indication of success later on.
What research will you be doing as part of the fellowship?
My work is part of ongoing research on digital twins for Navy power and energy systems. The project is exploring the applications of and improvements brought about by employing digital twins of a Navy power and energy system. It's a large project with multiple faculty members and industry partners. My specific research involves power electronics and leveraging machine learning to improve component and system performance.
How important was the support you received from the Department of Electrical Engineering and UofSC National Fellowships and Scholar Programs (NFSP) office?
The support I received from the Department of Electrical Engineering and NFSP was instrumental in my success. My advisor Dr. [Enrico] Santi and members of my lab aided in brainstorming the research topic. The mentoring and support I have received throughout my electrical engineering studies here at Carolina prepared me well, and I want to specifically thank Dr. Santi, Dr. [Roger] Dougal and Dr. [Krishna] Mandal for their support and the fantastic letters of recommendation they prepared on my behalf.
The UofSC National Fellowship Office has a robust network of advisors and resources from previous applications that were successful. They definitely gave me a lot of support and contributed to a successful process, and I want to thank Matt Klopfenstein for guidance, essay editing and assistance.
How will this fellowship help you moving forward in your Ph.D. studies and beyond?
This sets me up really well for making connections within both the DoD and various contractors that work on defense-related projects. I’ll also be able to network with the other fellows and have connections with other high-achieving graduate students in various science and engineering fields from across the country.