More than 300 parents, children, students, corporate representatives and teachers crowded the NJIT Campus Center yesterday afternoon for NJIT’s Capstone Showcase in Information Technology (IT). The program featured middle and high school student teams—as well as NJIT freshmen. The students detailed current or recent projects developed for regional corporate sponsors.
Clearly visible throughout the day manning a microphone was Budd Lake resident Osama Eljabiri, senior university lecturer at NJIT. Eljabiri founded the award-winning Capstone program in 2001 for NJIT’s College of Computing Sciences.
“Classes operate as virtual companies with students elected as CEOs,” he says. “Market-driven training covers everything from business and leadership skills to hands-on technical workshops. A capstone team in a corporation can save, and has saved, many companies hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Local particpants included four members of the Olaso family of Mine Hill: Rosemarie, the mother; Stephanie, 16, a junior at Morris County School of Technology, Denville; Samantha, 18, NJIT freshman in Newark College of Engineering; and Sean,11, a sixth grader at Sacred Heart School, Dover.
Said Rosemarie Olaso, who spent the entire afternoon with her youngsters: “The program has given my children incredible leadership responsibilities from the start, a support system that has been amazing. My daughters went through and learned much from presentations they heard at large corporations. For example, the presentation they heard at Johnson and Johnson, in New Brunswick, really made an impression on them.”
Other attending families included the Upadhyays of Savreville. Pooja, 12, at Sayreville Middle School, joined her sister Anu, 16, a junior at Sayreville War Memorial High School. The older sister has attended the Saturday morning program for three years. This was the first year for the younger girl. The family, including the mom who drove both students, had nothing but praise for the program.
There is no fee for pre-college students to attend the program. Parents yesterday said the time involvement was minimal—transporting youngsters to NJIT on Saturday mornings for classes or events that typically run about two hours. Sometimes students take field trips, such as the one to New Brunswick. Some parents indicated the ease with which they were able to set up car-pooling arrangements.
Corporate representatives yesterday included Citigroup, NYC; CBS News Network, NYC; Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick; Newark Beth Israel Hospital of Saint Barnabas Healthcare System and Meridian Health, Neptune, and several smaller companies based at NJIT’s small business incubator program, known as the Enterprise Development Center and based in Newark.
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 doctorates. Last month the Carnegie Foundation named Eljabiri New Jersey Professor of the Year for developing the program. To date, 350 student teams—more than 2,000 students—have participated in 350 projects. The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) administers the US Professor of the Year program. For more information about the award, please visit www.usprofessorsoftheyear.org.