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Scholarship Story

SME Scholarships Help Cal Poly Student Attain Manufacturing Engineering Degree

Multiple scholarships from the SME Education Foundation have been instrumental in the postsecondary education of Benjamin Martin Lipper, a manufacturing engineering student at California Polytechnic State University.

ben-lipper-2.jpgA 21-year-old native of San Luis Obispo, where Cal Poly is located, Lipper received four SME scholarships: the Edward S. Roth Scholarship in 2020-21, the SME Directors Scholarship in 2021-22, the Myrtle and Earl Walker Scholarship in 2022-23, and the Myrtle and Earl Walker Scholarship in 2023-24. Combined, the scholarships add up to nearly $14,000.

“SME is the only place I’ve gotten multiple scholarships from, and it’s been so helpful in affording tuition, because going to college is not cheap,” says Lipper, who is in his fourth year at Cal Poly.

ben-lipper-3.jpgLipper became interested in a career in manufacturing and engineering while attending San Luis Obispo High School, where he was a member of the school’s FIRST robotics competition team. “I always loved building things,” he says. “I took some cool metal shop classes in high school, so I got the chance to use amazing machines like mills and lathes, and play with them hands-on. I also ended up taking some advanced classes where we actually got to design the parts and then manufacture them, and that was really cool, too.”

When it came time to choose a college, Lipper opted for Cal Poly because of its top-ranked engineering program. “They also have a combined engineering-entrepreneurship senior project that puts business students and engineering students together to develop a product,” he says, adding that he’s looking forward to working on that project later this school year.

ben-lipper-robot_768x432.jpgTo help pay his tuition, Lipper works at several jobs while maintaining a 4.0 scholastic average. One of his jobs is a paid internship at Trust Automation, a San Luis Obispo engineering firm, where he works eight to 10 hours a week doing mechanical engineering and design for manufacturing (DFM) projects. “We’re making an antenna mount for an anti-drone system, and it needed to be redesigned so it was cheaper to manufacture, and I was in charge of that,” he says.

After graduating from Cal Poly with a Bachelor of Science degree in manufacturing engineering, Lipper hopes to attain a full-time engineering position, either at Trust Automation or another engineering firm. He’s also interested in pursuing teaching. “There are a lot of lectures at our college, so I could lecture at night and work during the day,” he says.

Regarding his pursuit of scholarships, Lipper says he applied to the SME Education Foundation’s awards program after finding out about it through his high school robotics team’s website. “It was just one of the many scholarships I applied for, and then afterward I realized what SME was, and it was like, ‘Whoa, this is amazing. I’m glad I applied for this.’”