Icing on the Cake: An Engineering and Business Major Finds a Home at NJIT

Jessica O'Grady transferred to NJIT, where she is pursuing a major in civil engineering and a minor in business.

When it was time for Jessica O’Grady, a competitive snowboarder, to decide where she would spend her college years, she thought, What better place than the University of Vermont?  Ever since she was young, she had always dreamed of living in either Vermont or Colorado one day. And, she always knew that she wanted to be an engineer and UVM offered the major.

“What I later realized was that just because a school offers a major does not mean that it is going to be taught well,” O’Grady explains. “After my first year there, I decided it was time to put down the old snowboard and focus more on my future as an engineer.”

After discussing her situation with her uncle, William D’Ambola ’89, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from NJIT’s Newark College of Engineering and is currently a business partner at Simpson and Brown, Inc., O’Grady made the decision that was best for her: She transferred to NJIT, where she is now pursuing a major in civil engineering and a minor in business.

“Engineering is great in the fact that you become really good at designing things and all, but business classes teach you not only how to manage or start up your own business, but really how to deal with all different types of people and situations,” she says. “Here, I actually feel like an engineer. I am no longer scared to enter the real world after college because I feel as if I am being prepared well enough.”

O’Grady says that her classes are very hands-on, which is what she likes most considering that is how she learns best. Attesting to her success is Jack Wagner ’74, an adjunct professor in NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management who teaches O’Grady’s MGMT 190 class and describes her as “a great student who understands the linkages between technology and business.”

“It seems like Jessica is a real-life example of “Business With The Power of STEM,” Wagner said.

Now that she has completed almost one year at NJIT, what does she like most about the university? 

“There are two things that I really enjoy about this campus: the people I have met and the classes that I have taken,” O’Grady says. “When I transferred, I decided to dorm here being that I would have an hour and a half commute every day if not. I chose a random roommate and got really lucky with the people I was placed with and have learned a great deal from them alone.”

Due to her avid interest in bridge building and tunnel designs, O’Grady’s post-graduation plans include pursuing a career in structural design.

“If that comes with designing them all around the world than that would be just the icing on the cake,” she says. “But the cake’s pretty good by itself, too.”   

By Christina Crovetto
crovetto@njit.edu