SMECO Establishes $100,000 Scholarship Endowment At CSM for Future Engineers in Southern Maryland

Planning for the future strength of Southern Maryland, the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SMECO) has established the SMECO Future Engineers Endowed Scholarship Fund at the College of Southern Maryland with a $100,000 pledge. The scholarship will support students enrolled in the Associate of Science in Engineering (ASE) in Electrical Engineering degree program with secondary consideration given to students enrolled in other CSM engineering degree programs. 

“As a major force behind the area’s economic expansion and quality of life, SMECO has demonstrated time and time again its integral role as a partner in education for our region’s workforce. They have established several education and training programs for current and future workforce, and with this new commitment to grow future engineers within Southern Maryland, SMECO reflects a significant investment in the next generation and future vitality of our community,” CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried said. “SMECO has always been a strong supporter of education and of the College of Southern Maryland. Not only are they investing in the students that will be here in the future, but they have dedicated themselves to investing in their own workforce through continued education and workforce development at the college.”

Announcing the endowed scholarship during the 2013 Southern Maryland VEX League Championship-Senior Division at the La Plata Campus recently, SMECO Senior Vice President, Engineering and Operations, and Chief Operating Officer Kenneth M. Capps told an audience of high school students and parents, “Because we are tied to our community so closely, we are happy to work with our partners in the community, local school systems and local colleges. Recently, we started a $100,000 endowment to provide financial assistance to full-time students entering or currently enrolled in the College of Southern Maryland’s Associate of Science in Engineering, in Electrical Engineering degree program. We are supporting students in engineering because our business relies on a well-educated workforce, and we need employees who possess these skills.”

Capps, who manages the engineering, operations, construction and maintenance of SMECO’s electric system in the co-op’s 1,150-square-mile service area, said, “More and more, technology plays a significant role in electric utility operations. We look forward to a day when the skills students are learning in events like the robotics competition will be used at power plants and in substations, or used in the field to inspect and repair high voltage power lines. With this endowment, we are making a long-term investment in Southern Maryland. We value education and the partnership we have with CSM; but more importantly, we value the relationship we have with our customer-members. And we’re making this commitment because we know it will benefit our co-op and strengthen our relationship with our community.”


Demand for STEM Occupations

In the next 10 years, the need for scientists, mathematicians, engineers and other technology workers in Southern Maryland is expected to increase by 25 to 30 percent, according to estimates by the local economic development offices. The May 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the highest concentration of jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations was not found in the center of Silicon Valley (San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.), but in a nonmetropolitan area, St. Mary's County, Md. (207 per 1,000 jobs). Still, large numbers of local employers find it increasingly difficult to fill a significant number of vacancies in the STEM fields.

“What is really exciting is how efforts such as robotics competitions are meeting requests from the community to grow a pipeline for engineers,” said CSM Industrial Studies Professor Bernice Brezina, coordinator of the Southern Maryland VEX Robotics League and robotics competitions at the college.

Through its scholarship endowment, SMECO is among the region’s organizations instrumental in helping to build an engineering pipeline. CSM’s associate of science in engineering (ASE) degree was developed to help ease students’ transfer from two-year engineering programs to four-year engineering programs and to help expand the pipeline into engineering careers. It is a transfer-oriented degree, built around an outcomes-based statewide agreement.


CSM’s Associate of Science in Engineering (ASE) degree

The ASE is designed to transfer as a degree or block of courses, rather than on a course-by-course basis, into four-year engineering programs in Maryland and prepares those ASE graduates for junior-level course work. The ASE does not guarantee admission into a four-year engineering program, however institutions that have parallel programs for electrical engineering or computer engineering, or both, and that have expressed support for the ASE, are: Capitol College; Frostburg State University; Johns Hopkins University; Loyola University – Maryland; Morgan State University; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; University of Maryland, College Park; and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. For information on CSM’s electrical engineering degree program, visit

SMECO celebrated its 75th anniversary during 2012. Initially serving 400 families in 1937, SMECO has grown into one of the 10 largest electric cooperatives in the United States serving 154,000 homes and businesses. For information about SMECO, visit

To view the announcement of the SMECO Future Engineers Endowed Scholarship Fund at the College of Southern Maryland, visit For information about scholarships at CSM, visit


Spotlight on STEM

Upcoming in April is “Spotlight on STEM,” showcasing comprehensive events and hosted by CSM and other key partners to focus on addressing the need for aggressive STEM education at all academic levels in Southern Maryland. “Spotlight on STEM” scheduled for  April 12-20 includes a variety of community outreach events and activities projected to draw hundreds of students, educators, and industry leaders, from Destination College and Career and College Readiness forums to the LEGO Robotics Championship, Student Success Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference, and Women + Math activities. For information about “Spotlight on STEM,” visit:

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