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    Traveling to New Heights: Mentoring takes Department of Defense’s SMART Scholar to Space

    Phase 3 BS/MS. Scholar: Mr. Torrey Bettis, Mentor: Vernon “Pete” Mills, Ph.D.

    Courtesy Photo | SMART Scholar: Mr. Torrey Bettis and Mentor: Vernon “Pete” Mills, Ph.D.... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    SMART Scholarship Program

    The Department of Defense (DoD) Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship-for-Service Program scholar Torrey Bettis and his mentor, Vernon “Pete” Mills, Ph.D., are taking their collaboration to new heights supporting space exploration. The mentee/mentor pair are aiding in the department’s mission through their contributions to the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA), Innovation, Science and Technology, Technology Maturation Organization (DVR). For their collaborative efforts, Bettis and Mills were recently awarded the Fiscal Year 2022 Scholars and Mentors of the Year Award for a Phase 3 SMART scholar, in the bachelor’s and master’s category, currently in the post-service commitment.

    In 2018, Bettis began his SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program journey after retiring from the U.S. Air Force, where he served for more than 20 years. Bettis earned his bachelor’s degree in computer and electrical engineering from the University of West Florida. Mills interviewed Bettis for the SMART scholarship and became his mentor once selected as a scholar. From the start, Mills encouraged Bettis to increase his depth of technical knowledge, advance leadership and communication skills, and embrace new challenges.

    Bettis is currently fulfilling his role as a seasoned DoD science and technology professional by becoming an instrumental contributor in two CubeSat Network Communications Experiment (CNCE) space flights. The CNCE program works with industry partners to test small, low-cost satellites and networked radio communications between nanosatellites while in orbit. This process is critical to national missile defense needs, as the sensors and communication systems quickly identify, track, and target enemy missiles. Bettis briefed project status, mission objectives, as well as risk and mitigation strategies to the space test program director. These efforts culminated in a successful launch.

    Additionally, Mills encouraged Bettis to take a more proactive role in several other MDA projects. Honing his technical and communication skills, Bettis was able to co-author MDA’s homeland defense report to U.S. Congress. This report communicated MDA’s strategy for protecting the nation and required analysis of warfighter requirements, MDA capabilities, acquisition strategies, and identified possible technological solutions and gaps.

    Through their collaboration, both Bettis and Mills embody MDA’s goals of supporting the warfighter and exceeding the DoD and its stakeholders’ expectations. Bettis exemplifies how SMART scholars are continuing to demonstrate dedication to the Department’s mission and embody the spirt of “SMART scholars, lifelong innovators.” Mills embodies how SMART mentors are committed to fulfilling an instrumental role in developing new talent for the DoD, through enhancing educational and technical skills for future leaders.

    Annually, SMART recognizes scholar and mentor pairs who embody the SMART vision of creating a highly skilled DoD workforce that competes with the dynamic trends in technology and innovation to protect national security. These awards recognize outstanding scholar achievements as well as the valuable guidance provided by their mentor at a SMART sponsoring facility.



    Date Taken: 02.28.2023
    Date Posted: 02.28.2023 11:03
    Story ID: 439360
    Location: VA, US

    Web Views: 52
    Downloads: 1