Since the inception of the Distance Education and Training Council's (DETC) Outstanding Graduate Program twenty-five years ago, Grantham University has continuously awarded this honor to one of its graduates each year. Criteria for this award include a GPA of 3.5 or higher, significant contributions to society and to their chosen profession and a written essay addressing their education and its application to their career and community. This year's nominees included: Lori Guess, Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a 3.95 GPA; Alan Trail, Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technologywith a 3.87 GPA; Walter "Cal" Smith, Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a 4.0 GPA; and Shawn Johnson, Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a 4.0 GPA.
Recently, Grantham University announced that its 2009 DETC Outstanding Graduate is Walter "Cal" Smith. Cal was chosen for his outstanding academic record, his contributions to his profession and his well written essay.
Cal entered college right after high school, but struggled because he admittedly lacked the maturity and discipline that was necessary for success. Sixteen years later, after being passed over for job interviews and promotions, he decided that earning a degree would be the best way to break through his professional "glass-ceiling". "I was weary of working endless overtime hours to earn a comfortable living for my family," he said. He was already successful in his career, but needed a degree to get him to the next level.
Because of work restrictions, Cal had a difficult time attending a traditional university. Not only did he burn through vacation time so he could attend class when his work schedule wouldn't otherwise permit, he also wasted time commuting to and from school. After expressing frustration, one of his previous managers told him about Grantham University. Cal was looking for an accredited online school with technical Bachelor of Science degrees and Grantham was a good fit, both professionally and personally. "Grantham's flexible schedule allowed me to shift time and effort between work and school when my job needed to take priority," commented Cal.
While completing his undergraduate degree, Cal served in several security roles safeguarding nuclear weapons, nuclear explosive devices, special nuclear materials and classified materials. He designed and deployed the first "Virtual Fence Line" extended-range intrusion detection system used to protect nuclear weapons for the Department of Energy (DOE).
In addition, Cal is the lead DOE domestic and international instructor for Tabletop scenario analysis and combat simulation, with students from 43 allied nations. Along with classroom instruction, he developed advanced computer-based tools for assault planning, near real-time battle tracking and scenario documentation.
Cal has applied many of the principles he learned in his Computer Science courses to his work, such as integrating Systems Engineering principles into his security analysis and upgrades design, implementation and sustainment, and using his programming skills to develop and refine combat simulation and tracking software within DOE.
He currently works for Sandia National Laboratories, assisting the U.S. Navy as a technical advisor for strategic weapons protection at Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia.