Presidential Speech at the NCE Salute to Engineering Excellence - March 22, 2007

Good evening. Once again, it’s a pleasure to share this special event with you. Let me welcome all the Newark College of Engineering alumni who have joined us today, the friends of the college whose tradition of support grows stronger everyday, and the faculty, staff and students who are carrying NCE’s mission forward into the 21st century.

It is also my great honor to acknowledge several special guests. Our keynote speaker is Frank Lombardi, chief engineer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Frank, welcome to NJIT.  

This year, we honor Virginia Sulzberger for her singular achievements as an NCE alumna. Fletch Creamer’s Engineering Impact Award recognizes his accomplishments as an engineer, and the commitment of his firm, J. Fletcher Creamer and Son, to enabling the young professionals who work with him to realize their personal goals and potential.

The NCE Industry Partner award recipient, Hatch Mott MacDonald, has had a long and close association with our university. We have many graduates who have built successful careers at Hatch Mott MacDonald, including the company’s current president and CEO, Nick DeNichilo.

For nearly a hundred years, NCE has been a vital force in the growth of an institution that has become a great university — New Jersey Institute of Technology. This growth has included physical transformation that reflects our commitment to providing the best possible environment for study, research and personal growth. Even relatively recent graduates who return to campus for the first time see very significant additions, among them Fenster Hall and the new Campus Center.

The current phase of major physical improvement was capped by rededication of the extensively renovated Eberhardt Hall NJIT Alumni Center. This building is not only iconic of NCE and NJIT, but also of engagement in the life of our host city that now spans more than 125 years. Fred Eberhardt had the opportunity to study at Newark Technical School because leaders in business and government of his era understood that the region’s prosperity depended on developing talent in science and technology. This is as true in 2007 as it was in 1881. Today, however, our participation in the life and renaissance of Newark extends beyond our campus and our traditional role in education. We should adopt Yogi’s observation that the “future ain’t what it used to be.”

Most know that I like Yogi’s witticisms.  We both grew up in St. Louis, both live in NJ, he played professional baseball and I dreamt about it.  Two out of three isn’t bad.

His witticisms are definitely different than the ones you see attributed to engineers.  

“When you smell an odorless gas, its carbon monoxide.”

“A super-saturated solution is one that holds more than it can hold.”

Just some of the fundamental truths of engineering.

Our future is changing while our traditions of practical education and research remain our hallmarks.  Our transition to Division I athletics adds a special energy to the NJIT experience and raises the profile of our university nationwide. Look for basketball scores on the ESPN ticker tape, join us at the Newark Arena next fall for a game as well as a baseball game this spring at Riverfront Stadium. This transition is about growing the residential character of NJIT, gaining more national visibility, aligning athletically with our academic peers, integrating with the recreational life of Newark, and providing a top quality athletic experience for some of our most outstanding students, who receive a top quality education.

We are also engaged in helping to seed our area’s economy with the new technology-based businesses entering the marketplace at our nearby Enterprise Development Center facilities. We will help to take adult stem-cell science from theory to practical therapies at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which will be located a block from campus and constructed in the next couple of years with State funds. The new NSF Engineering Research Center in which we are participating with Rutgers, Purdue, and the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez will focus on developing structured organic composite products with application to pharmaceuticals and agriculture.

In education, we recently received a major grant from the National Science Foundation to partner with Newark high school teachers to develop better strategies for teaching science, and to inspire young people to choose careers in science and technology.  

We are also participating in the redevelopment of the neighborhood around NJIT, through an initiative that will provide new housing for NJIT fraternities and sororities as well as an enhanced residential and retail neighborhood along MLK stretching from Central to at least Orange.  We anticipate that this project, called the NJIT Campus Gateway Project, which can be viewed on the web if it is new to you, will be a catalyst for additional redevelopment north of campus.  We are finalizing the agreement with the developer as we speak.

The future will bring even more change to education and research at NJIT, while the hallmarks remain, and in our engagement with society at large. In the years ahead, the achievements of our most talented students will equal the accomplishments of the successful professionals we recognize this evening. Our students will continue to be served by exceptional faculty and staff, on a vibrant campus surrounded by a vibrant City, of which NJIT will continue to play an important role.

I welcome our alumni and supporters to visit often and look forward to congratulating those of you who will be honored in years to come as we congratulate our honorees tonight.

I’d now like to return the podium to John.  

Robert A. Altenkirch, President