The NJIT Community
Joel S. Bloom
Thursday, May 29, 2014
NJIT Community Update
Dear Members of the NJIT Community,

The spring 2014 semester came to a close last week with NJIT graduating the largest class in its history at its 98th Commencement Ceremony. With a total of 2,649 bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees awarded at the graduation exercises at the Prudential Center in Newark, this is an excellent opportunity to recall and reflect on the themes that were expressed at what was certainly an auspicious occasion for the great many students, faculty, staff, Trustees, and guests who took part in and witnessed the proceedings.

More than anything else, the ceremony featured speakers who urged the Class of 2014 to give back to the community and to celebrate the impressive diversity that could never have been imagined years ago.

That was certainly the theme of Newark City Historian and Rutgers-Newark Distinguished History Professor Clement Price who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and delivered the 2014 Commencement address at the Commencement ceremony on May 20, 2014. Professor Price recalled his participation in the February 1968 civil rights march in support of students.

“On your watch, Newark continued to come back,” said Price, who was named the official city historian of Newark earlier this year. “On your watch, Newark continued to become a city of destiny.  You are the best; comport yourselves accordingly.”  Price, who also serves as Director of the Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience, said that he has remained true to the values of his forebears.

“I hope a quest for social justice consumes your lives as well,” Price said.

Price also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. In 2012, NJIT awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to his wife, Mary Sue Sweeney Price, former Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Newark Museum.  Honorary degrees were also awarded to John M. Dionisio, Executive Chairman of AECOM, and Robert S. Dow ‘69, who was Managing Partner at Lord Abbett & Co. before retiring in 2012.

My own remarks at the ceremony emphasized the same theme, encouraging graduates to continue to give back to the community.

“It is my sincerest hope that as NJIT graduates, who have much to offer, you will give back in the measure demanded by the challenges of making life better in the years ahead.  Going forward as graduates, give back in the workplace by contributing your professional expertise to positive technological, social and economic change.  Give back in your community by volunteering for activities that help people in need. The paradox of the electronic media always at our fingertips these days is that it both connects us to other people 24/7 while at the same time making our interaction less personal, and in too many instances less civil.  Consider giving back through face-to-face connection.”

A great many of you already know that NJIT has a long tradition of commitment to fostering opportunities for students to share their skills, talents and enthusiasm through community service.  I am very proud that for the fifth year, NJIT was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, one of the highest recognitions a university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. NJIT students helped New Jersey recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, provided the people of Haiti with safe drinking water, and helped build housing and improve health in the Dominican Republic.

In the same spirit, I believe this is also an opportunity to recognize outstanding examples of achievement and accomplishment that many NJIT’s students, faculty, and alumni exhibited in the period leading up to the Commencement Ceremony on May 20. Recent successes included:

NJIT’s first annual Big Data Visualization Contest - a competition that immersed undergraduates in the world of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and challenged them to use S&P Capital IQ’s cutting-edge research, analytics, and data visualization tools to make hypothetical pitches for high-stakes acquisition deals – concluded at Innovation Day with the winning team narrowly edging out close competitors.

NJIT won the annual Steel-Bridge competition, making it the ninth year in a row that NJIT has taken the metropolitan contest. Seven teams competed, with NJIT defeating other top colleges such as Columbia, Cooper Union and NYU-Polytechnic. By taking first place, NJIT earned an invitation to the National Steel Bridge Competition, held Memorial Day weekend at the University of Akron.

NJIT’s AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) Chem-E-Car received second place during the Regional AIChE Conference at the University of Virginia on March 29. Chem-E-Car is AIChE’s annual competition engaging college students in designing and constructing a car powered by a chemical energy source that will safely carry a specified load over a given distance and stop.  NJIT’s team is now qualified for the 2014 National Chem-E-Car competition which will be held this October in Atlanta, Georgia.

On March 12, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the Murray Center for Women Technology hosted the final showcase of their First Annual Female Research Showcase and Oral Presentation Workshop.  The goal of this series of events was twofold: to highlight research done by undergraduate and graduate female researchers at NJIT and to provide them with detailed critiques (from evaluators outside their fields) that they can use to improve their oral presentation skills.

NJIT physicist, Louis Lanzerotti, collaborated in the discovery of a new structure in Earth’s inner radiation belt -- a zebra-striped structure of highly energized electrons that could endanger humans in space and also damage low-earth navigation and communication satellites.  The data supporting these discoveries comes from a measuring device aboard the two NASA Van Allen Probes currently orbiting Earth. Professor Lanzerotti is the principal investigator for the measuring device and the findings are reported in a paper co-authored by Lanzerotti for the March 20 issue of Nature, one of America’s most distinguished scientific journals.

Two NJIT engineers, a senior and an alumnus from the Class of 2013, have won National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, generous three-year grants that allow them to focus intensively on research as they pursue doctoral degrees in graduate school.  As NSF fellows, William Pennock’13 and Elaine Gomez ’14 will receive more than $40,000 for three years – $32,000 in a direct stipend and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to their university– as well as other benefits.

Rayon Williams, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, received second place honors for his oral presentation at the National Society of Black Engineers 40th Annual Convention Technical Research Exhibition competition in Nashville, Tennessee. He is working under the guidance of Professor Edward Dreizin in the Otto H. York Department of Chemical, Biological, and Pharmaceutical Engineering.

New Jersey Institute of Technology and WebTeam Corporation, a New Jersey-based IT company, have signed an agreement to collaboratively design and develop a customizable learning device that will help children with autism spectrum disorder master a range of skills-building lessons contained in the device’s embedded educational software. For the initial project, an NJIT team, including students, will work with WebTeam to develop a tactile-friendly 3D device with embedded sensors to interface with the company’s iLearnNEarn2 program.

Laurent Simon, an associate professor of chemical engineering at NJIT, received a Distinguished Teaching Award from the American Society for Engineering Education.  Professor Simon, was recognized by the society for his “exemplary teaching.”  With great enthusiasm, he challenges his students with stimulating assignments and projects, counsels them before graduation and remains available to them as they enter the workforce.

Thank you and congratulations to all!

With warmest best wishes,

Joel S. Bloom, President