Osama Eljabiri, a pioneering educator at NJIT who strongly believes in experiential learning, was named 2007 New Jersey Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Panels composed of professors, deans, education writers, students, and representatives from government, education foundations and associations selected Eljabiri and professors nationwide for their extraordinary dedication to teaching undergraduate students and their influence on teaching. They were honored at an awards ceremony luncheon and congressional reception in Washington DC on Nov. 15.
Eljabiri, a senior university lecturer who founded, taught and continues to develop the senior project capstone course program at NJIT’s College of Computing Sciences (CCS), was recognized for his diligence and dedication for promoting this new type of learning. To date, 350 student teams – more than 2,000 students - have participated in 350 projects.
(ATTENTION EDITORS: To see the program in action, you are invited to attend the 7th annual capstone showcase Dec 5, 2007, 1-5:30 p.m. in NJIT’s Campus Center. Contact Sheryl Weinstein, 973-596-3436 for more information.)
Since 2001, Eljabiri’s program has become a network of networks of more than 300 value-added industry connections and learning communities-- ranging from sixth grade to PhD. Classes operate as virtual companies with students elected as CEOs and market-driven training covers everything from business and leadership skills to hands-on technical workshops. National and international partnerships and sponsorships include Johnson and Johnson, IMS health, Citi Group, CBS News network, St. Barnabas Health System, Meridian Health, Dougherty Enterprises, McKesson Corp, San Francisco, Honeywell International; PSE&G, US Army, National Guard, OWASP global community of thousands of international businesses, New Jersey Governor’s Office, Newark’ Mayor Office, NASA, and the National Science Foundation.
Today, the CCS Capstone Program at New Jersey Institute of Technology provides a unique environment of real-world learning to university, high school, and middle school students integrating university, industry, high school, parents, alumni, students and community resources. Real-world practices and resources are integrated into current academic curricula which enables academic education projects to add value to real world situations. A capstone team in a corporation can save, and has saved, many companies hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to Eljabiri, “The secret to our program is not having students working on industry-sponsored projects but having projects and sponsors working together for our students’ education. We hire our sponsors instead of them hiring our students. Our best alumni become advisors and mentors in the program and some become sponsors of projects. Our sponsors become long-term partners rather than short-term employers. This is how our program uses the real world to re-define learning and teaching and this is how we are able to exceed our sponsors’ expectations. Our program is able to create endless possibilities for students and industry alike and make learning much more exciting, challenging and relevant. We are a true learning organization that adapts to change and responds rapidly to stakeholders' feedback. When we give our students the driver’s seats, we become mission impossible. The sky is not even our limit!”
In addition to industry-sponsored projects, the program offers unique tracks in entrepreneurship projects (Students Create Their Own Company) , teaching and advising team (Students are the Professors) and empirical research papers carried out by undergraduate students – that can be submitted to conferences and professional journals. The program also offers special training in project management with strong emphasis on leadership skills, a university-wide multidisciplinary project course and a peer-to-peer free education network (the Real World Open University) that covers a wide array of multidisciplinary skills, practices, theories and applications.
Eljabiri has been with NJIT since 1999 teaching, advising and overseeing more than 15 undergraduate and graduate software engineering, requirements engineering, business process re-engineering, MIS and project management courses. He has received many university honors including an excellence in service award this past September. In 2001, he received a coveted excellence in teaching award from the university. In 2003, he received an excellence in teaching award from the College of Computing Sciences. He co-authored Strategic Software Engineering – An Interdisciplinary Approach (CRC Press, Auerbach Publications, 2005) with NJIT Computing Sciences professors Fadi Deek, Ph.D. and. James McHugh, Ph.D.
The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) administers the US Professors of the Year program. For more information about the program, visit www.usprofessorsoftheyear.org and click on PR Resources or contact Pam Russell, director of public relations, CASE (202-478-5680).