NJIT and Biomedical Engineering Firm Forge A Winning Combination

NEWARK, December 16-- “Our relationship with New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) has definitely been a win-win,” says Michael Smith, president and founder of General Devices, of Ridgefield, a small biomedical engineering and manufacturing company. Since the 1979 founding of Smith’s company, more than 50 NJIT students and graduates have worked there. Today, seven of the engineering company’s 18 employees are either NJIT students or recent graduates.

“The relationship between General Devices and NJIT grew because of the quality of the students applying for work and the exceptional cooperation the company received from the university when it comes to recruiting,” says company president Smith, of Oradell. “We now depend on NJIT as our prime source of technical talent. As a small firm competing in a high-tech field, it’s the talented, enthusiastic people coming to us at entry level who make it possible for us to succeed. They work on everything—from software to hardware, or from design through manufacturing.”

Such a relationship underscores the positive outcomes of a viable business and university partnership. The principal engineers for these products were two NJIT recent graduates: Okan Akyureklier, 33, of Rutherford, senior electrical design engineer, who received his master’s degree from NJIT in 2000, and William Levine, 24, of Dumont, who received his bachelor’s degree in 2001 from NJIT.

General Devices designs and manufactures advanced telemedicine and communications products for emergency medical services, hospital emergency rooms, and public safety departments. The Journal of Emergency Medical Services recently dubbed “hot” two emergency medicine products created by General Devices.

The “hot” products were Rosetta™, a portable medical data translator that paramedics carry enroute to a hospital to transmit fast, accurate cardiac data about patients and CAREpoint™, an emergency department workstation that provides an integrated set of call- and telemetry-management tools for emergency-department personnel. Akyureklier came on board as a cooperative learning student while earning his master’s degree and Levine right after graduation as an entry-level employee. Four other NJIT students currently work at General Devices: Peter Starzyk, 22, of Bayonne; Henry Rodzen, 22, of Garfield; James Nejmeh, 20, and Lube Aleksoski, 20, both of Clifton.

(Attention Editors: Call Sheryl Weinstein at 973-596-3436 for more information about the benefits of the work/study program or to set up interviews.)

Curt Bashford, 24, of Union, vice president for General Devices, exemplifies a typical work/study career path. Bashford, who received both his bachelor’s (1985) and master’s (1995) degrees from NJIT, started working at General Devices in an entry-level job in his senior year. Reminiscing about the experience, he says it gave him invaluable experience for a career in biomedical engineering.

“I not only learned how to build things that work, but how to put all the right components in the right-size box,” says the executive jokingly. Indeed, the company seems to value making sure all employees understand the entire business before hiring them in a more permanent capacity. Bashford started as an assembler, then moved onto testing before becoming a full-timer. The work experience also helped Bashford in his studies. “Learning how to build things that work helped me with my senior project at NJIT. The project focused on designing and building a device that correlated blood pressure with the circulatory system,” says Bashford.

Almost 700 NJIT students take part in some type of internship annually, says Gregory Mass, executive director of Career Development Services at NJIT. Mass believes that experiential education is an important way to relate knowledge acquired in the classroom to the world of work.

“Internships and other forms of pre-professional employment gives students a chance to test-drive various work environments,” says Mass. “Having an internship enables a students to determine if they are most compatible with the private or public sector, with manufacturing, marketing or sales. It can also help to build a resume with pertinent work experience and references, which can be especially important in a difficult job market.”

Smith points out that the work/study experience may also turn up important negatives in a student’s career path. “Obviously, it’s great when a student learns that he or she likes the day-to-day work of being an engineer, and that’s the case more often than not. But it’s a plus even when someone decides that engineering is not really for him or her. It’s much better to learn that early on,” he says.


NJIT is a public, scientific and technological research university enrolling more than 8,800 students. The university offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees to students in 80 degree programs throughout its six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. The division of continuing professional education offers adults eLearning, off campus degrees and short courses. Expertise and research initiatives include architecture and building science, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and science, information technology, manufacturing, materials, microelectronics, multimedia, telecommunications, transportation and solar astrophysics. Yahoo! Internet Life magazine cites NJIT as a "perennially most wired" university.

Contact Information:   Sheryl Weinstein
Public Relations
(973) 596-3436