Tory Smith, a 2011 Virginia Tech graduate from Raleigh, N.C., is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Smith, who majored in mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering and German from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and who was a participant in the University Honors Program, will use the annual stipend of $30,000 for three years to study vehicle dynamics and control at the University of California, Berkeley, in the masters/Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering.

When deciding upon a college, Smith noted “Virginia Tech provided the opportunity for me to pursue majors in my two passions: German and mechanical engineering.” 

During the summer of 2007, Smith lived with a German family for seven weeks in an intensive language program. That experience prepared Smith for the next summer, when he creatively combined his love for foreign cultures and vehicle mechanics. Smith completed a nine-week National Science Foundation undergraduate research project at Germany’s Technische Universität Darmstadt where he studied over a thousand high-speed braking tests and evaluated the performance of an active suspension control system.

In the summer of 2009, as part of the cultural experience he designed for the Horton Scholarship, Smith spent a week volunteering at the Bergen International Arts Festival in Bergen, Norway. He served as an artist contact and escort for three German opera soloists at the festival.

“Smith’s performance in his German courses reflects his outstanding ability to conduct research, synthesize material, and present it in a well-organized, convincing fashion both orally and in written form,” said Liesl Allingham, assistant professor of German in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

At Virginia Tech, Smith worked with Jaime A. Camelio, an assistant professor in industrial and systems engineering, to determine the feasibility of implementing a lightweight aluminum alloy in commercial vehicle side rails, which could ultimately improve vehicle efficiency. After serving as a tutor his junior year in the Virginia Tech Writing Center, Smith proceeded to hone his own writing by publishing his findings and presenting them at the 2010 Society of Automotive Engineers Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress.

Smith garnered 11 merit scholarships at Virginia Tech, including the Alumni Presidential Scholarship, the Jamie Bishop Memorial Scholarship, and the Horton Engineering Scholarship. Smith served as faculty relations co-chair for Pi Tau Sigma, the mechanical engineering honor society. He worked as an orientation assistant and was active in the Blacksburg community as a private tutor for high school students. Smith was also a member of Virginia Tech's Baja Society of Automotive Engineers team, a project where students design and fabricate a single-passenger off-road vehicle from scratch.

Smith is spending his summer working at Ford Motor Company as a product development intern. “Most of my work is focused on ground clearance testing and analysis for the next generation Ford Mustang,” said Smith, who also interned in Detroit last summer.