SAN ANTONIO - Hundreds of local high school students braved winter winds and freezing temperatures to tour the Army Strong Zone outside the Alamodome Jan. 7. The Army set up technology demonstrations, information booths and vehicles for students and the general public to explore during the two days running up to the 2010 All-American Bowl.

The unseasonably cold weather put a damper on some of the activities, but Soldiers and civilians took on the task of telling the Army story. Students going through zone may find opportunities for cash awards, scholarships and summer internships through an innovative Department of Defense program known as SMART, or "Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation."

"The program is excellent because it pays for everything," said JoAnn Wright "It's a great opportunity for students, and a motivator for educating the scientists, technicians and engineers our Army needs."

Wright spoke with students and passed out information kits. The scholarship is just part of the program. "SMART includes post-graduation career opportunities," she said. "Organizations review program applicants and actually select them for future employment."

The DoD pays all expenses, including internships, until the student graduates and starts work with the target organization.

Students pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics may be eligible for the program. Besides the free tuition and other educational benefits, cash awards are anywhere from $25,000 to $41,000 a year depending on an applicants' situation. "There is even a health insurance allowance," Wright said.

To apply for the program, or for information, visit the SMART Web site or call JoAnn Wright at 410-436-4594.

Follow us on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, and visit the RDECOM homepage!