The Board of Trustees of New Jersey Institute of Technology has approved $200 million in construction and infrastructure projects on the university’s Newark campus, designed to enhance and expand NJIT’s role as the state’s science and technology university and a leader in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and research. The university will apply to the Secretary of Higher Education for $152 million from the Building Our Future Bond Act, state revolving funds and other sources to support the projects.This bond act has been created as a result of foresight and recent action by the Governor, the Secretary of Higher Education, and the people of the State of New Jersey. As a result, for the first time since 1988, the state has made available a visionary and comprehensive grant opportunity that provides for strategic capital investment in New Jersey’s institutions of higher education so that the critical needs of the state, its businesses and industries, and its residents are met for the foreseeable future.
“We believe that these projects are of critical importance to the business and industry of New Jersey,” said Joel S. Bloom, president of NJIT. “The state’s future is dependent upon the investments we make now to stimulate economic growth, productivity, and innovation.” The state and national need is for STEM educated students. “It is where the jobs are.”
Bloom noted that NJIT’s vision as one of America’s most entrepreneurial, innovative and accomplished universities is embedded in its strategic plan, which emphasizes education that is state-of-the-art, inclusive of interdisciplinary teams solving real-world-problems and applied research that results in commercialization.
“We are focusing on three interdisciplinary areas in education and research that are critically important to economic development and quality of life in New Jersey,” Bloom said. “Our themes of sustainability, digital ‘everyware,’ and the convergence of life and healthcare sciences and engineering align closely with the industry clusters identified in the State Strategic Plan. These are the foci of the nation’s Third Industrial Revolution.”
The largest single project among the university’s proposed improvements involves transforming NJIT’s Central King Building (formerly Central High School) into a “Hub for STEM” education and research. Components of the redesigned facility would include:
• The Center for Innovation and Discovery, designed to support innovative learning programs, to stimulate the exchange of ideas and apply emerging knowledge through hands-on laboratories, design and modeling studios, and interdisciplinary projects for grades 4 through 18.
• The Biological Sciences Education and Research Center, which will bring together researchers and students from biology, biomedical engineering, pharmaceutical chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, and mathematical biology. “The synergy and collaboration that take place in this center will produce stunning innovations at the interface of biological sciences and engineering,” Bloom said.
• Other programs that would be housed in the Central King Building include a Teaching Effectiveness Institute, Math Engagement Center, a Composition Engagement Center, and centers for advising and pre-professional mentoring.
A second proposed project focuses on building a state-of-the-art “i-Generation” information technology infrastructure to support both education and research. Among the features of the plan:
• 21st century, state-of-the-art learning spaces, including “smart classrooms” equipped for multimedia, internet connectivity and wireless networking; “smarter classrooms” that provide collaborative spaces to accommodate students working as teams; and a “Bring Your Own Device” model that allows students to connect to the university’s wireless network.
• A campus cyberinfrastructure consistent with the National Science Foundation’s Cyberinfrastructure Vision for 21st Century Discovery, providing advanced high-performance computing to support faculty research.
• The building of an NJIT cloud and the adaptation of classrooms and labs to accommodate cloud access and utilization so that cloud computing can be incorporated into education and research as well as providing a secure environment for the university’s documents.
A third project, the “Integrative Life Science and Engineering Laboratory”, will advance NJIT’s commitment to applying tools and technologies from virtually every academic discipline to innovation in the related industries of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical devices to gain maximum benefit from the convergence of the life sciences, physical sciences and engineering. The relevant research and instructional programs now overtax our laboratory space, and it is essential to address the need for infrastructure to sustain growth and promote transdisciplinary collaboration. This proposal will:
• Combine renovation of an existing wet-laboratory building and expansion of its lab space to accommodate an influx of new researchers and to allow new teaming models for the conduct of research.
• Add leading-edge instrumentation to core infrastructure required to address the unique lab needs related to integrative life-science research.
• Implement appropriate information-age technology to connect people and equipment to the global research community.
As New Jersey’s public science and technology research university, NJIT is uniquely positioned to help the State of New Jersey achieve and advance the goals of the State Strategic Plan, especially Targeted Economic Growth, Effective Planning for Vibrant Regions, and Preservation, Protection and Enhancement of Critical State Resources. These goals are consistent with and integrated into NJIT’s own strategic and academic plans and are clearly reflected in the university’s proposals for the addition of essential campus infrastructure.