NJIT Pre-College Programs Lead Students to Success in Science, Technology Fields

NEWARK, March 29- Twelve-year-old Nicole Howard, of Willingboro, has spent the past two summer vacations playing with airplane parts, designing web pages, and learning computer programming languages. A four-week, pre-college summer program sponsored by New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, has provided the instruction.

This coming summer Howard, a seventh grader at Hawthorne Middle School in Willingboro, will once again attend at NJIT's Mount Laurel campus, the same pre-college program: Females in Engineering-Methods, Motivation, Experience (FEMME). FEMME teaches young women in grades four to eight that science, math and engineering is fun, understandable and open for success.

The NJIT Center for Pre-College Programs (CPCP) offers on the NJIT Newark campus FEMME as well as 13 other summer programs in science, math, technology and engineering for youngsters in grades four to eleven. Tuition ranges from $100 to $650. Students may obtain an application for the session (July 2 to August 6) from the CPCP office (973-596-3550). Completed applications must be returned by April 18.

Since 1978, the CPCP has helped thousands of students and educators in kindergarten through twelfth grade participate in programs like FEMME. The pre-college programs especially provide opportunities for women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities to pursue technological fields that traditionally have been closed to them, says CPCP executive director and founder Howard Kimmel, Ph.D., an NJIT chemical engineering professor. Of the pre-college students, 55 percent are female, 45 percent are male.

"NJIT has long recognized that minding the pipeline at the secondary level is no longer sufficient. Instead, we must reach the youngsters at the elementary level and provide a continuous nurturing environment that minimizes the leakage," says Kimmel.

Research has shown that early intervention makes a difference in students' lives. A recent CPCP survey shows that of the 3,407 students enrolled in pre-college programs from 1980 to 1997, 76 percent of them had graduated or were in an undergraduate college program in 1997. Approximately 65 percent of them had selected a technological career, including engineering, science, computer and information systems and math.

Lea Chan, of Kearny, participated in FEMME in 1994. Now in her fourth year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, this bioengineering major fondly remembers her pre-college days. "It almost seemed like summer camp even though we were doing math problems and writing essays. Just being around the (instructors) and
other talented girls made a difference in my life," she says.

Virginia Mayo, of Jersey City, who is now a junior at NJIT majoring in computer engineering and management, thanks FEMME for helping her decide to go into engineering. "If anything influenced my career path, it was that program. It got the ball rolling for me," says Mayo.

Jessica Oribabor, of Pennsauken, in the eighth grade at a local middle school,
participated in FEMME last summer at Mount Laurel. "Before that, I was really into computers. Now I'm really into programming and I want to consider a computer science career. This was fun to do," she says. Coming up this summer, Oribabor will be a peer counselor for new FEMME participants.

Aracelis Caban, of Newark, another NJIT student, credits FEMME for opening up new career paths. "The program helped me realize that I was not limited to certain careers," says Cabalis, a senior majoring in engineering management.

"Too many students stop studying science and mathematics as soon as they can and are not encouraged to pursue advanced level courses in these gate-keeping subjects," adds Kimmel. "Without this education, they are literally closed forever to the rewarding higher education programs and careers before they even finish high school. Participating in pre-college programs like FEMME can change that tide and offer more options."


NJIT is a public research university enrolling over 8,200 bachelor's, master's and doctoral students in 80 degree programs through its five colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, the School of Management and the Albert Dorman Honors College. Research initiatives include manufacturing, microelectronics, multimedia, transportation, computer science, solar astrophysics, environmental engineering and science, and architecture and building science. According to Yahoo! Internet Life magazine rankings, NJIT has been America's most wired public university for three consecutive years.

Contact Information: Sheryl Weinstein
Office Of Communications, 
(973) 596-3436