Setting Sail: Isabel Anderson’s Course to Success

5/23/2011

Isabel Anderson is launching from Stevens this year with more than bachelor's degrees in naval engineering and history and a master's degree in maritime systems.  As if those accomplishments weren't enough, she also graduates having the distinction of being Stevens' first Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholar. 

Created and facilitated by the Department of Defense (DOD), the SMART Scholarship for Service Program supports undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. As a SMART scholar, Isabel received a full scholarship to Stevens and will be employed at the DOD after graduation.

Isabel has navigated the waters – and started the journey to an exciting career – from an early age growing up in Washington, D.C., she said.  Learning how to sail with Sea Scouts, a Boy Scouts co-ed Venture Scouting program geared toward water activities, proved to be a catalyst for realizing a passion turned college and career pursuit. From early experiences with the Sea Scouts, she said, she fell in love with boats. The rest is history.

It was during her sophomore year at The Lawrenceville School, a private high school in Lawrenceville, NJ, that Isabel decided she wanted to be a naval architect. She selected Stevens specifically for its Naval Engineering program.  At Stevens, she was also able to continue sailing – as co-captain and crew member of the Stevens sailing team.

Isabel is grateful that the SMART scholarship has given her the opportunity to be exposed to wide range of extraordinary projects and unique experiences – at Stevens and also at the U.S. Navy's Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia, where during the course of her student career, she spent three summers working with the very team she'll soon be joining at the DOD after graduation. The projects she worked on gave her first-hand experience in human systems integration – specifically in ergonomics and spatial design.

The curricula, research and design experience she received in Stevens' undergraduate and graduate programs worked hand-in-hand with what she gained through practical summer experiences with the DOD. "Because Stevens has a broad curriculum program and requirements, I was exposed to a wide range of engineering coursework and experience," she said. "I felt confident working in human systems integration for the DOD, for example, because of all that I was exposed to at Stevens."

Working on an interdisciplinary team with mechanical engineers and computer science students to design, build and program an unmanned underwater vehicle for a research project sponsored by the Office of Naval Research was one of the highlights of her student career. The team went on to present the vehicle and findings with teams from the U.S. Naval Academy and Georgia Tech.

Regarding other factors that influenced her success, Isabel also gives credit to the opportunity to find a healthy balance between school work and ample breaks for recreation and fun.  "I try to take advantage of any opportunities for new, different and challenging experiences," Isabel said. "I love to travel and take every opportunity to visit friends and family members and to see the world." Her recent destinations include Africa, South Korea, Thailand and Brazil.

At Stevens, Isabel also enjoyed being a tour guide for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, noting that it was especially rewarding to explain to prospective students how engineering can be fun and challenging at the same time. She also appreciates experiences she had as a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity that allowed her to volunteer for events like the New York Marathon and also serve on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon inflation and vehicle anchoring teams.

In the further distance, Isabel said, is a possible future in underwater engineering. For now, she's grateful and happy to have been able to realize her passion and interests and continue to do so in an exciting job at the DOD. "I've been so lucky to have the SMART scholarship fund my education at Stevens," she said.  "Here, I was able to do what I loved and to be challenged. I worked with amazing students and faculty.  I have an exceptional sense of accomplishment."