Robert P. Stearns was co-founder of SCS Engineers, an employee-owned environmental consulting and
construction firm that designs and implements sustainable environmental solutions. Until his death in 2013, Mr. Stearns was recognized nationally for his significant contributions to the environmental engineering profession and advancement of solid waste management practices.

SWANA is a professional association of more than 10,500 members who work in solid waste and resource
management. That industry is far advanced from the old stereotypes of “garbage men.” Our membership is diverse. We encourage you to consider how your selected area of study might lead you into our professional ranks. SWANA has a place for you.

To be eligible to apply for the Robert P Stearns/SCS Engineers Scholarship, worth up to $5,000 US, you must be: 

  • A full-time student entering or already in graduate school for the period of time the scholarship will be used.
  • Pursuing a degree in environmental science, environmental studies, engineering, or other major applicable to the field of solid waste or resource management.
  • Sponsored by a SWANA member in good standing on May 1 of the application year. This can be you as a student member or a qualifying SWANA member (see the Eligibility criteria in the application). Applications are due to your Chapter Scholarship Committee Chair by May 1, 2023. Chapters will review all applications and can nominate one applicant for a Stearns/SCS Engineers Scholarship to SWANA by June 2, 2023. That application must be submitted on SWANA’s application form. SWANA’s awards will be announced during summer 2023.


  • May 1—All completed application forms and back-up documentation must be received by your Chapter Scholarship Committee Chair.
    • Students can join two chapters for free.
      • Join the chapter where your school is located. Submit your application there.
      • If you have an internship or work assignment in a different chapter area, check into their activities and programs as those new relationships can lead to additional support for your application.
    • If you are geographically located outside the United States, its territories, or Canada, send your completed application directly to SWANA’s Staff Scholarship Administrator by May 1, 2023.
  • June 2—Chapters forward their nomination for scholarships to headquarters for distribution to the
    International Scholarship Committee.
  • August—International Scholarship winners are announced.

The Scholarship Committee evaluates the Robert P. Stearns/SCS Engineers Scholarship applications as follows:

A. Academics = 30%
SWANA’s Scholarship Committee considers past academic performance an important selection criterion. Your application must provide enough information to allow the Scholarship Committee to evaluate your academic performance. 

  • REQUIRED: Provide a transcript of your college/university transcripts through the conclusion of the most recent period (quarter, trimester, semester).
  • REQUIRED: Provide a copy of your acceptance letter to graduate school if this will be your first year attending that school.
  • REQUIRED: Identify any degrees currently held and provide graduation verification.

An official, unofficial, or PDF copy of your transcript is required to be attached to the application you provide to the Chapter or SWANA. The transcript must provide marks for all courses and a measure of your academic performance when measured on the school’s standardized scoring system. Identify the scale used (e.g., 4.0 on a 4.0 scale). An example of one possible measure satisfying this request for US based students is grade point average (GPA). SWANA acknowledges that not all schools use this measure and will accept other measures documented by the transcript.

International graduates attending school in the United States and Canada can ask their current school for copies of foreign transcripts/academic records and graduate verification as this may help simplify and speed the process of gaining access. If you must contact your prior university for material, be sure to allow sufficient time to receive a response (may take several weeks). 

  • OPTIONAL: Attach documentation of any other college/university-level academic performance, awards or recognition, and/or letters of recommendation related to academic performance you believe the Scholarship Committee should consider.

B. Relationship of Studies to Solid Waste Management = 60%
The Committee will consider your current and completed courses, advisor/professor input, and your completed essay in its evaluations. 

  • REQUIRED: Complete and sign the form that asks for additional information about coursework related to solid waste management and/or a potential career in the industry.
  • REQUIRED: Please have your faculty advisory or a key professor in your studies related to solid waste management provide a one-page letter that discusses your academic performance.
  • REQUIRED: If involved in a research program or an internship/assistantship, please have your faculty advisor provide documentation regarding the nature of the project and your participation and performance.
  • REQUIRED: Write a one-page, original essay about the topic identified in Question 3. SWANA considers each essay for its potential as a blog post on social media, regardless of selection for a scholarship.
  • OPTIONAL: Include links to published articles or a short bibliography, if applicable. Large data files
    transmitting full copies of books and papers are specifically discouraged and add less to the Committee’s review than a succinct summary or link

C. Other Activities = 10%
Other Activities are activities and programs that can be connected with your studies (research, internships,
assistantships), associated with school (participation student organizations), or entirely unrelated (volunteer activities, military service, employment).

  • REQUIRED: Complete and sign or verify the forms that ask for information about your Other Activities.
  • OPTIONAL: Attach documentation and/or letters of recommendation to help the Scholarship Committee appropriately score this part of your application.
  • OPTIONAL: Attach a current copy of your resume.

D. Financial Need—not weighted

  • OPTIONAL: Although it is not a weighted factor, the Scholarship Committee can take financial need into consideration. Please do not attach forms that contain confidential personal information.

E. Disqualification
Applying is not a guarantee of funding. The Scholarship Committee may disqualify an application for any of the following reasons:

  • Applicant fails to meet the May 1 deadline for submitting the application to the Chapter or Staff Scholarship Administrator
    • Chapter fails to provide its recommendations to SWANA by the June 2 deadline
    • Applicant will not be enrolled in classes in the coming semester
    • Application does not provide all REQUIRED supporting documentation and letters
    • Application contains an essay or substantial parts of an essay written by another person
    • Application is not legible or signed by the applicant where indicated

Contact information for Chapter Scholarship Committee Chairs can be found at You will also find a link to many of the Chapter websites and information about their local scholarship programs. Members living outside the United States, its territories or Canada should complete the application and send it directly to Sara Bixby in her role as SWANA’s Staff Scholarship Administrator no later than May 1, 2023.

For more information and to apply: