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Contact Information: Tanya Klein Public Relations 973-596-3433

MEDIA ADVISORY: Lt. Gen. James A. Abrahamson, Former Director of the Space Shuttle and the “Star Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative, To Speak at NJIT Commencement

WHO: Lt. Gen. James A. Abrahamson, USAF-Retired, who directed both the Space Shuttle program and “Star Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative, will be the keynote speaker for NJIT’s spring commencement.


WHAT: Abrahamson is chairman and CEO of StratCom International. Abrahamson, along with NJIT researchers, is developing stratospheric airships for homeland security and telecommunications. The unmanned, stationary platforms, intended to hover 12 miles above the ground, will be 25 times the size of a Goodyear blimp. The airships will be equipped with sensing devices to provide surveillance coverage over a surface area of 500,000 square miles. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has recommended the stationing of 10 airships to securely cover all the U.S. continental borders.


RESEARCH: NJIT’s research on the airships is directed by Donald H. Sebastian, vice president of research and development and director of the university’s Homeland Security Technology Center. The research project, says Sebastian, is a natural fit for NJIT. “We have expertise in the whole range of applicable technologies — terahertz imaging, advanced materials technology for the airship skin, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), intermodal freight transportation through our transportation centers, wireless telecommunications, and information-assurance systems,” Sebastian says. “We saw this as a mandate for NJIT to apply its resources and expertise to New Jersey’s homeland security.”


WHEN: Wednesday, May 26, 2004, at 9:30 a.m. 


WHERE: Prudential Hall, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark.


BACKGROUND: In 1998, Abrahamsom founded StratCom, a small company based in Delaware, and partnered with Lockheed Martin to develop the airships for the telecommunications industry.  After 9/11, defense agencies took a greater interest in the stratospheric airships. Last September, Team Lockheed Martin, which includes its long-time partner, StratCom, won a $40 million contract with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), an agency under the Department of Defense, to design the airships. MDA’s mission is to develop, test and prepare a missile defense system.

One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cyber-security, in addition to others. NJIT ranks 5th among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, topping $110 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com.