Meet the Top Design Students of the Year

Nora Gharib, an interior design major, won the Senior Designer of Distinction Award.

Each year, the School of Art + Design recognizes graduating seniors for design excellence and academic achievement.  This year eight seniors received awards -- with one student, Brandon Simms, winning two top honors.

Here are brief bios of the winners:

Brandon, a digital design major, won the School of Art + Design Medal as well as the Senior Designer of Distinction in digital design.  He worked as an intern at Kim Wendell Designs (KWD) in Brooklyn.  He also worked with Eric Nersesian, who teaches information technology at NJIT, on projects involving motion graphics for mobile devices.  Brandon’s work was exhibited at the Student Work Exhibit at SIGGRAPH 2012 in Los Angeles and SIGGRAPH 2013 in Anaheim.  He was also the lead artist for Blasteroids, a game produced at 2012 Global Game Jam at NJIT.  Every semester his work was exhibited at NJIT as part of the presentation made to prospective students and their parents. He’s a regular participant at NJIT Open Houses, where he helps recruit undergraduate students.

The Award for Outstanding Service went to Kelsey Jackson, an interior design major who was captain of the NJIT Women's Track and Cross Country teams.  She worked as an intern at the City of Newark Urban Enterprise Zone, where she focused on the development of facade improvement and the Newark Murals Initiative. She also worked as an intern for Matt Gosser, the curator of the College of Architecture and Design (CoAD) Gallery at NJIT.  She is a member of NJIT's chapter of the African Students Association and former president of NJIT's student chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers.  Her work was exhibited at the curated Student Work Exhibit at SIGGRAPH 2012 in Los Angeles. She was the student speaker at the CoAD celebration on May 20.

The Digital Design Award for Academic Achievement (highest GPA in the major) was shared by Mateusz Mrowiec and Jordan Surie.  Mateusz won first place for A+D student work at Design Showcase 2013. His work was exhibited at SIGGRAPH 2013 in Anaheim and featured on the Synergis corporate website. He also exhibited his game design at the Maker Faire held at the Newark Museum in April. His work was also included as part of the NJIT submission for the curated student work exhibit at SIGGRAPH 2014 in Vancouver.  

In industrial design, the Senior Designer of Distinction went to Dane Hagen, whose designs were exhibited at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City in May. He has a job working for MadLAB LLC, a firm headed by Jose Alcala, coordinator of the Industrial Design Program.

In industrial design, the Award for Academic Achievement went to Martin Flores. Martin had won the design award for Foundation Year in 2011. He was also the NJIT Student Chapter President for the Industrial Designers Society of America and organized activities including the "Where Are They Now?" event that featured talks by recent graduates discussing their professional work. His work was included as part of the NJIT submission for the curated student work exhibit at SIGGRAPH 2014 in Vancouver.

In interior design, the Senior Designer of Distinction went to Nora Gharib, whose work was exhibited at the ASID-NJ trade show this May. Her work will also be exhibited at the NeoCON in Chicago in June. She was Eastern Regional Co-winner, with Lucia Rodriguez, in the 2013 IDEC Student Design competition and was part of the winning team in the Kimball Office Furniture Decades Chair design competition. She interned at Snohetta, a multidisciplinary global firm with offices in New York and Norway that specializes in architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture. She has received a scholarship to enroll this fall in the Master in Architecture program at the University of Miami in Florida. She is the second interior design graduate in three years to attend this program.

The Award for Academic Achievement in Interior Design went to Kyriaki (Sandy) Antoniou.  During her second year in 2012, Sandy was the Design Award Winner for Interior Design.  Her work was exhibited at SIGGRAPH 2012 in Los Angeles and on the Synergis website as well as exhibited during ASID-NJ Career Day in 2013.

By Robert Florida