Donald H. Sebastian, PhD, senior vice president for research and development at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), of Randolph, was inducted last night into the New Jersey High-Tech Hall of Fame in the academic category. This organization spotlights high-tech achievers who, through their leadership and accomplishments, make New Jersey a premier high-tech state. This year’s awardees were selected by industry through balloting coordinated by American Electronics Association, Biotechnology Council of New Jersey, and Healthcare Institute of New Jersey.
“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by the members of New Jersey’s high tech community,” said Sebastian. “It has been my good fortune to work at a university that understands the importance of active involvement in the state’s affairs. It is truly gratifying to know that our efforts are appreciated by those we serve.” At NJIT, Sebastian develops industry partnerships, intellectual property, business incubation, helps commercialize companies and oversees contract projects. In addition, he manages governmental affairs.
Under Sebastian’s leadership, sponsored research at NJIT has grown by nearly 50 percent in four years. NJIT’s total research enterprise now tops $80 million, placing NJIT among the top universities of engineering in the nation for total research expenditures and volume, according to a study by The Center at the University of Florida. The newly formed NJIT Research Corporation, of which Sebastian is president, will be the university's primary interface with the commercial sector and parent to spin out businesses, joint venture partnerships and contract development centers.
Sebastian’s accomplishments include developing the program leading to NJIT's designation (2004) as the NJ Homeland Security Technology Systems Center. Sebastian is now the executive director of this statewide, public-private partnership to develop, validate and standardize new technologies for sustainable approaches to defending against terrorism. He was a member of the NJ Office of Counterterrorism Cyber-security Taskforce; an institutional representative for higher education for New Jersey’s Infrastructure Advisory Committee; the first sector chair for the Morris County infrastructure taskforce.
Sebastian is also the academic lead working with the Newark universities and research centers across the state to develop a new $50 million, 100,000-square-foot facility connecting clinical practice using adult stem cell therapies back to basic research by creating scaleable production technologies. The facility will address stem cell collection, storage, differentiation, culture and distribution through a pilot-scale operation to be built in Newark’s University Heights Science Park.
Since 1999, Sebastian has led NJIT’s program, initially funded by New Jersey, to develop child-safe weapons technology. This program to develop the first biometric-based safety system for handguns has received more than $4 million in state and federal support. Also, Sebastian organized the New Jersey Nanotechnology Consortium, bringing the resources of the Lucent Bell Labs Silicon Fabrication Research lab and e-Beam nano-facility to the statewide research community.
In 1995, Sebastian, of Randolph, joined NJIT as a professor in the department of industrial and manufacturing engineering, and was later appointed executive director of the Center for Manufacturing Systems. In 1996, Sebastian founded the NJ Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc. at NJIT that has brought $20 million in federal support to help small to mid-sized manufacturers. Sebastian continues as a member of the corporation's board of directors.
Sebastian is chair of New Jersey’s Research and Development Council, vice chairman of the board of the Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Corporation, and board member for the NJ Marine Science Consortium, NJ Center for Bio-Materials, the NJ Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc., the Polymer Processing Institute, Inc. at NJIT and the Newark Innovation Zone.
Before joining NJIT, Sebastian was on the chemical engineering faculty at Stevens Institute of Technology. He co-authored Principles of Polymerization Engineering (John Wiley Interscience, 1983), is holder of a patent, and has published over 60 other scholarly works. Sebastian received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, all from Stevens.