Noblitt Scholars Program Launches Sam Betts’ Academic Horizons

Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Sam Betts works on a Rocketry Club project.

Whether it's participating in Rocketry Club, traveling on a study abroad trip to Kenya or participating in research projects, mechanical engineering major Sam Betts has made the most of her time at Rose-Hulman.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, mechanical engineering student Sam Betts is getting the most out of her experience at Rose-Hulman. Rose’s focus on STEM education, and the strong return on investment it brings, makes it a top choice for high-achieving students.

That would certainly include Betts. 

A love of astronomy has had Betts leading her classmates in launching rockets for the national NASA Student Launch competition and spending nights exploring the universe from the campus’ Oakley Observatory

A desire to explore the world had the Ohio native joining a group of fellow students spending a portion of last summer in Kenya, working to improve living conditions for residents of a rural community.

On campus, Betts has contributed to several Rose-Hulman research symposia as part of the Independent Project/Research Opportunities Program and is pursuing a personal goal of launching a small satellite designed and built on campus, with the help of a small and passionate team of classmates. 

She has also has expended her engineering horizons and experiences by developing innovative projects for real-world clients at Rose-Hulman Ventures, spending this spring in a co-op at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, and having an internship this summer with Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado. 

And all of this has been possible because she’s a Noblitt Scholar. The program that’s focused on developing future STEM leaders was established through a $10-million donation by alumnus Niles Noblitt, current Rose-Hulman Board of Trustees chairman, and his wife, Nancy. Betts was a member of the inaugural Noblitt Scholars Class of 2024

“The Noblitt Scholars program has been a good fit for me and, most importantly, provided the financial resources so that I can realize my career goals, and a whole lot more, by being in such an encouraging environment that Rose-Hulman offers,” says Betts, who had student experiences at NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland before arriving to study at Rose-Hulman. “I have tried to take advantage of every opportunity that I have become aware of during the past three years. My time on campus has gone by so quickly, but with a sense of purpose.”

That’s why Niles and Nancy Noblitt originally established the scholarship program in the fall of 2020.

“Our goal was to give back to the Institute so it can continue to attract the very best students,” said Niles, who has been a leader in the medical device field since graduating from Rose-Hulman with a degree in biological engineering in 1973. “Nancy and I want the institute to continue to draw gifted students who are leaders and whose immediate contributions will make a difference on campus and in the world.”

Betts spent this spring academic quarter as a systems engineer for a variety of projects at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory before an internship developing flight group software this summer at Ball Aerospace.

“Rose-Hulman has prepared me well for these experiences through the Noblitt Scholars program, the challenging academics, and all of the campus programs that are available,” she says. “The Noblitt Scholars program has provided a network of like-minded people and a close-knit community. It’s nice to always have someone at Rose-Hulman to lean on for support.”

For the future, Betts hopes to use her Rose-Hulman experiences to develop satellites within the aerospace industry.

Donors have played a significant role in other aspects of Rose-Hulman that are providing opportunities for Betts and other students. 

The Oakley Foundation has supported the construction of the campus observatory, along with the Southern Sky Observatory in Australia, and equipment updates that allow students to study astronomy and discover asteroids; the Hatfield Hall Theater was built through a donation from alumnus/trustee emeritus Mike Hatfield and his wife, Deborah; trustee and alumnus Michael Mussallem and his wife, Linda, have contributed to supporting students through expanding the student union and scholarships for prospective students from northwest Indiana and the Chicagoland areas; and annual alumni donations provide resources for a variety of student organizations, competition teams and athletic teams.