NJIT Magazine - Fall 2018

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n July, NJIT hosted the 2018 VOICE Summit, sponsored by Amazon Alexa. This was the first major tech conference in our new Wellness and Events Center, and it was the largest international voice-technology conference of the year.

The event was an outstanding success and drew nearly 3,000 industry leaders and developers at the forefront of both natural language processing and technologies that are revolutionizing user engagement by leveraging voice. The Summit featured approximately 200 speakers, including thought-leaders from eight different countries as well as David Isbitski ’98, who is Amazon’s chief evangelist for Alexa and Echo. By hosting this event, we succeeded in shining a spotlight on NJIT’s growing prominence in the technology economy, in addition to our capabilities as both a top polytechnic university and a destination for conferences and other professional gatherings. Media coverage of the VOICE Summit and of NJIT’s role as the conference host was extensive — nearly 900 instances of media coverage with an estimated advertising value of well over $1 million. Social media also chronicled, to a global audience, the excitement on campus throughout the three-day event. In addition, we seized upon this opportunity to create new connections between a plethora of well-established and rising tech companies and NJIT, its students, and its faculty. The cover story of this issue of NJIT Magazine also relates to creating connections. “Alumni Mentors Paying It Forward” takes a closer look at another type of connection — mentorship. At NJIT, mentorship is an integral component of the educational experience, and we are particularly grateful to our esteemed alumni who have taken advantage of opportunities to share their knowledge and experiences with our students. Like many of our alumni, a significant number of today’s NJIT students are the first in their family to attend college. For them, mentors can provide vital support and help to increase awareness of the academic and professional opportunities of which the students can avail themselves. I hope you enjoy reading about the efforts of our alumni mentors, as well as the other topics covered in this issue, and I welcome your feedback. n

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Matthew Golden

f e at u r e s

Denise Anderson

Alumni Mentors Paying It Forward 8

Chief Strategy Officer Associate Vice President Communications, Marketing and Branding

The alumni mentorship program pairs seasoned professionals with NJIT students for a mutually rewarding partnership.

Christina Crovetto M.S. ‘03 Editor

Tanya Klein

Editorial Assistant

Shydale James

Contributing Editor

From Eyesores to Community Assets: NJII’s Brownfields Program 16

Julie Jacobs, Jesse Jenkins Contributing Writers

Babette Hoyle

Production Manager


The New Jersey Innovation Institute’s Brownfields Program assists communities and nonprofits with advancing their sites through the planning, assessment, cleanup and redevelopment processes.

Diane Cuddy Design


Kenneth Alexo, Jr., Kevin D. Belfield, Reggie J. Caudill, Atam P. Dhawan, Craig Gotsman, Louis Hamilton, Moshe Kam, Anthony Schuman, Michael K. Smullen

The Making of New Jersey’s First Forensic Science Degree Program 20 CSLA Dean Kevin Belfield discusses

Editorial Advisory Board _______________________________________

NJIT Magazine is published by New Jersey Institute of Technology, Office of Strategic Communications. Its mission is to foster ties with alumni, university friends and corporate partners and to report on relevant issues, particularly those in education, science, research and technology.


Please send letters of comment and requests to reproduce material from the magazine to:

de pa rtm e n ts

NJIT Magazine Office of Strategic Communications University Heights Newark, NJ 07102-1982 crovetto@njit.edu

Abstracts 2

NJIT news in brief

Point By Point 5


Athletics update

Joel S. Bloom President

Kenneth Alexo, Jr.

Vice President Development and Alumni Relations


Executive Director of Alumni Relations

On the web:


64,900 9/18

Steven Saperstein ’84, Chief Operating Officer, PGIM Fixed Income, and Alana Dudley ’17, Sr. Performance Analysis Associate, PGIM Fixed Income

NJIT development news Class notes, calendar of events and more


Cover photo caption:

Giving 6

Alumni Circuit 25

Michael K. Smullen


the new Forensic Science B.S. degree program at NJIT – the first undergraduate forensic science program to be offered in the state of New Jersey.

CORRECTION: In the Planned Giving ad that appeared in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue, alumnus Kevin Lynch’s class year was misstated as 1988. His class year should have read 1998.

In Conclusion 41

Leading-edge achievements by faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of NJIT

Cover photo credit: Oscar Masciandaro

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solar telescope that captures images of the entire disk of the Sun, monitoring eruptions taking place simultaneously in different magnetic fields in both the photosphere and chromosphere, obtained first light in September at the Goode Solar Telescope (GST) at NJIT’s California-based Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO). The telescope, SOLIS (Synoptic Optical Long-term Investigations of the Sun), collects images from three separate instruments over years and even decades, rather than minutes or hours, giving scientists a comprehensive view of solar activity such as flares and coronal mass injections over the long-term. It complements the GST, which gathers high-resolution images of individual explosions at such detail that researchers are beginning to unveil the mechanical operations that trigger them. “With this important addition, BBSO becomes a comprehensive observing site that offers not only high-resolution solar observations, but also global data of our star,” notes Wenda Cao, an NJIT professor of physics and BBSO’s director.

The telescope SOLIS collects images of the Sun over decades, allowing scientists to closely monitor changes.

“By monitoring variations in the Sun on a continuing basis for several decades, we will better understand the solar activity cycle, sudden energy releases in the solar atmosphere, fluxes in solar irradiance, or brightness, and their relationship to global change on Earth.” SOLIS was developed by the National Solar Observatory (NSO), an academic research consortium with backing from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The instrument is moving from its current NSO site in Tucson, Ariz. to Big Bear, because of its ideal setting on the lake, which suppresses ground-level atmospheric turbulence caused by heating thermals, offering exceptional “seeing” for long periods per day on its more than 286 sunny days per year.

NJIT UNVEILS LEIR RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR BUSINESS, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY On hand to celebrate the opening of the new Leir Research Institute were (from left): Fadi P. Deek, provost and senior executive vice president, NJIT; Joel S. Bloom, president of NJIT; Jack S.C. Fong, M.D., The Leir Retreat Center; Margot Gibis, The Leir Charitable Foundations; and Reggie Caudill, dean of NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management.


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In June, BBSO received a $2.3 million grant from the NSF that will fund continuing scientific study of the Sun using the 1.6-meter GST at Big Bear, which is currently the highest resolution solar telescope in the world. “This grant allows us to continue collecting and interpreting the highest resolution solar data ever taken, while developing and applying analytical tools to attack a number of critical, leading-edge problems in solar research,” says Cao, the grant’s principal investigator. Telecommunications, GPS navigation, satellites, space flights with astronauts aboard, airline passengers and the power grid all are vulnerable to damage and disruption caused by solar activity. Some of these events are predictable, such as the 11-year sunspot cycle, but the details are not yet well modeled. n


t was a gathering to not only inaugurate a new research institute on the NJIT campus, but also celebrate a longstanding relationship between the university and a committed foundation partner and benefactor. On April 30, NJIT administrators, faculty, staff and students, as well as distinguished guests, joined one another in the Campus Center Ballroom to officially launch The Henry J. and Erna D. Leir Research Institute for Business, Technology, and Society, made possible with a five-year $1.5 million grant from The Leir Charitable Foundations. The institute, housed within NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management

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(MTSM), will develop business data science tools to predict and mitigate risks from global disruptions, such as climate change and other operational events, to corporations’ economic security, environmental accountability and social responsibility. Toward this end, it has a dual mission: to conduct business and management research and to establish partnerships with academic and business communities, regional economic leaders and government agencies. It also will support annual research symposia and fellowships for faculty and graduate students. “I am so honored to be here at the inauguration of The Henry J. and Erna D. Leir Research Institute for Business, Technology, and Society,” said Margot Gibis, president of The Leir Charitable

Foundations. “I am very happy to see what has come out of the special partnership with NJIT. I want to thank [NJIT President Emeritus] Saul Fenster, whose relationship with Mr. Leir goes back many, many years.” Noted Jack S.C. Fong, M.D., on the board of directors of The Leir Retreat Center, “At the Leir Research Institute, faculty members along with graduate and undergraduate students will be able to focus on research to help businesses in applied technology so that they will be more efficient, more sustainable, resilient and ecologically supported.” This effort, he added “will lead to social prosperity and wellness, bringing pride and fulfillment to the legacy of Mr. and Mrs. Leir.” The institute, located on the second

floor of the MTSM building, is an airy and contemporary space, which features offices, conference rooms and a dedicated lab for Ph.D. students to conduct research. MTSM Dean Reggie Caudill had the honor of unveiling the institute’s signage. “We want to continue to build upon the values of the Leir family and their legacy and…to embed these core virtues into our students, not only today but for future generations as well,” he said. Henry J. Leir was a 20th-century industrialist and philanthropist whose foundations have supported NJIT for more than two decades. Through this generosity, the university has endowed two faculty chairs, held research conferences and established The Leir Center for Financial Bubble Research at MTSM. n



he Spring 2018 Career Fair held this past February at NJIT’s new Wellness and Events Center (WEC) was alumna Whitney Randolph’s first time back on campus since she graduated from the university with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering in 2017. The reason for her visit was not to look for a job, but rather to find job candidates as a recruiter for her employer, Getinge. Randolph is a production engineer at the global medical technology company. “Being on the other side…I was anxious, I was excited, I was nervous,” she said of the experience. “But being in the WEC was absolutely amazing. Being an alumna and seeing NJIT growing was absolutely amazing.” Randolph, who attended career fairs as a student, sought out the opportunity to represent and help recruit for Getinge, which was looking primarily for interns, co-ops and a few full timers for a new two-year rotational program. “Graduating from NJIT, I know that the students here are capable of being great employees,” she remarked. “I thought that it was awesome to be an actual engineer from the company recruiting, because a lot of students ask njit .e du

questions like ‘what do you do on a daily basis?’ and sometimes the recruiter doesn’t have the answer for that…I did and I loved it!” Also returning to NJIT for the first time since graduating to recruit at the career fair was Nick DeSantis ’17, a mechanical engineer at Mack Boring & Parts Co., a diesel engine distributor. “I was extremely impressed by the new facility and look forward to being back there in the future,” said DeSantis, who earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering technology (MET) at NJIT. “And I know the hands-on experience that MET students receive [here], and that is very important to our company.” According to Jane Gaertner, associate director of employer relations in NJIT’s Office of Career Development Services, alumni volunteering to recruit for their employer at their alma mater has been a growing trend over the past few years. It’s a movement that has proven to be a successful strategy for organizations to secure talent. Approximately 100 NJIT alumni now participate in the university’s career fairs

Whitney Randolph ‘17 recruited for her employer, Getinge, at the Spring 2018 Career Fair.

as recruiters. “More corporations are sending their recent alums back to campus to create a recruiting relationship with their peers, with whom they may have shared a dorm room or classroom in the last year or two. The peer-to-peer relatability greatly impacts a current student’s understanding of the job and company they are considering for employment,” pointed out Gaertner. As for the alumni recruiters themselves, they “love to come back to campus not only to see their friends and professors, but to brag about the cool things they are learning and doing at their organization,” Gaertner noted. n N J I T M A G A Z I N E | FA L L 2 0 1 8


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JIT has risen 34 spots — third most in the nation — in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, which identify the top colleges in the nation offering the best education for students. In the rankings, NJIT is ranked 106th in the National Universities category, climbing from 140th in the 2018 edition of the publication. NJIT also has risen 18 places to number 46 on U.S. News’ list of Top Public Schools. Additionally, NJIT was named on the Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs, Best Value Schools, and Most Ethnically and Economically Diverse lists compiled by U.S. News in the 2019 edition. U.S. News & World Report bases its rankings on 16 measures of academic quality, which include graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, reputational assessment by peers and guidance counselors, financial resources and alumni giving rate. “The improvement in NJIT’s U.S. News ranking is indicative of the upward trajectory of our university and the growing recognition of its strength,” said NJIT President Joel S. Bloom. “Every major industry across the global economy is reliant upon technology, and NJIT excels in the disciplines that meet their workforce, research and economic development needs. That’s why NJIT has been able to develop so many mutually beneficial partnerships with industry, and it’s why our students are in such great demand — receiving multiple job offers prior to graduation and starting salaries nearly 20 percent above their peers at other universities across the nation. n



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NJIT JUMPS TO NUMBER 2 ON COLLEGE FACTUAL’S LIST OF BEST CIVIL ENGINEERING PROGRAMS NATIONWIDE Civil Engineering graduate Muhammad Elgammal ’12, M.S. ’15 atop World Trade Center 1.


he Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) program at NJIT now ranks second in the nation, according to College Factual, an outcomes-based data analytics and research company. NJIT jumped six places from last year, landing behind Georgia Tech (1) and ahead of MIT (3), on the list of the 206 programs evaluated. The university’s CEE program ranked in the top 20 in numerous areas, including education for veterans, popularity and graduates’ earnings, among others. In its 2019 report, the company described NJIT as “among your best bets if you’re planning on studying Civil Engineering.”

“I am very proud of the department’s accomplishments. I attribute our place near the top of a list of excellent schools to our dedicated students, faculty, staff and alumni, who work around the clock to make our program better year after year,” said Taha Marhaba, chairman of NJIT’s CEE department. “I’m also pleased that the ranking acknowledges the overall quality of a program, taking into account the success of students both on campus and after graduation.” College Factual’s metrics include the caliber of the student body, educational resources and graduation and retention rates, as well as postgraduate earnings, among others, “metrics that measure the overall success of a graduate’s educational and career life-cycle,” Marhaba noted. n n j i t .e du




The Latest News About NJIT Sports njithighlanders.com

Jesse Uttendorfer Named to ASUN Spring Winners for Life Team Baseball’s Jesse Uttendorfer was named to the 2017-18 ASUN Spring Winners for Life team. The team comprises of one student-athlete from each of the eight institutions from the 2017-18 academic year and honors those who display excellence on and off the playing surface. The Winners for Life team honors a campus citizen who is respected as one who shares and/or demonstrates the ASUN Core Values. To be eligible for the award, the student-athlete must have competed during the current academic year in an ASUN sponsored sport and be in good academic standing at his/her university. While earning his MBA with a 3.56 cumulative GPA from NJIT this year, Uttendorfer guided the Highlanders to their first-ever appearance in the ASUN Baseball Championship. A two-year captain at NJIT, Uttendorfer earned First Team All-Conference and his second selection to the All-Academic Team. An Albert Dorman Honors College scholar, he graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in business after eight straight semesters on the Dean’s List. n Reilly Walsh

Mohamed Bendary

Scott Quirie Named CCSA Men’s Scholar Athlete of the Year


The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) recognized NJIT men’s basketball players Reilly Walsh and Mohamed Bendary on the NABC’s annual Honors Court awards program for the 2017-18 season. Each spring, the NABC recognizes men’s collegiate basketball student-athletes who excelled in academics during the previous season. The NABC Honors Court celebrates the talents and gifts that these men possess off the court, and the hard work they exhibit in the classroom. In order to be named to the Honors Court, a student-athlete must meet a high standard of academic criteria. The qualifications are as follows: academically a junior or senior and a varsity player; cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher at the conclusion of the academic year; students must have matriculated at least one year at their current institution; and a member of an NCAA Division I, II, III, or NAIA Division I or II institution with a full-time NABC member coach. n

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NJIT men’s swimmer Scott Quirie was named Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA) Men’s Scholar Athlete of the Year. Quirie has not only been outstanding in the pool for the Highlanders, but also in the classroom. Boasting a 3.96 GPA, the chemical engineering major is an Albert Dorman Honors College Scholar and has been on the Dean’s List every semester since he started as a freshman. A member of the Chi Alpha Sigma Honor Society, Quirie has never received a grade lower than a B+ at NJIT. In men’s swimming and diving’s first meet in the new NJIT Wellness and Events Center Natatorium, and his final home meet as a Highlander, he posted wins in all four events he competed in. n

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our and a half years ago, Dylan Renaud was a senior in high school unsure about a lot of things, in particular about how — even if — he could attend a four-year college. Growing up in a family of six boys, he knew there were things he could always count on his parents for — such as bandaging up a bleeding forehead from a sibling fight — but there were other things that he understood he could not rely on them for. Paying for college was one of them. One day in April, everything changed when Renaud received a piece of mail outlining that not only was he accepted at NJIT, but he also was invited to become a member of the Albert Dorman Honors College. He read further through the lines of text and there it was – scholarship money — and a lot of it. Tuition, room and board — all covered. “For me, those few lines of text represented a pathway to a future I could have never dreamed of,” he recalled. Renaud shared his personal journey with scholarship donors and their student recipients April 27, 2018 at the 30th Scholarship Brunch. The annual event provides an opportunity for donors to meet the students in person for a glimpse into how their generosity impacts their lives. In the last 11 years, benefactors have contributed $201 million to NJIT,

Dylan Renaud ‘18 described how scholarship support helped to achieve his goals at the 30th annual Scholarship Brunch.

establishing more than 225 scholarships, and enabling the university to provide increased and vitally important financial assistance to more than 1,250 students each and every year. “You have the opportunity to provide a student with the tools to transform their life,” Renaud said. “I sincerely thank you for providing me with the opportunity to change mine.” At NJIT, scholarship support enabled Renaud to engage himself in research, and this in turn took him to work in laboratories and give presentations at places such as Okinawa, Japan, the United Kingdom, Heidelberg, Germany, and more. He met and spoke with Nobel Prize winners, worked in the groups of international leaders in optics and materials physics, and saw parts of the world he never fathomed he would see. He co-authored six peerreviewed scientific papers, and gave several conference talks and nearly a dozen poster presentations. Additionally, he received fellowships including two National Science Foundation awards, a German DAAD RISE Fellowship, the Goldwater Fellowship and a number of other awards from organizations including Edmund Optics, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and more. Renaud was accepted to pursue his graduate studies at the University of Cambridge, Rice, Columbia, MIT and Harvard. He recently began his Ph.D. in applied physics at Harvard University. Also speaking at the event was Tiaja Harley, who graduated in May with a B.S. in civil engineering and a minor in theatre arts and technology. Harley grew up in Newark as the eldest of eight children and is a first-generation college graduate. Robert C. Cohen ’83, ’84, ’87, vice president of Global R&D and chief technology officer at Stryker Orthopaedics and a member of the NJIT Board of Trustees, was the guest speaker.


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Tiaja Harley ’18

She is the recipient of the Reif Family Endowed Scholarship, the Marjorie A. Perry Scholarship, the NJIT Urban Scholarship, NACME Scholarship, PSE&G Scholarship and the Jim Wise Scholarship. She is now working for LANE Construction in Virginia Beach as an associate engineer. “Going to college would not have been an option for me without the scholarships I received,” she said. “It allowed me to attend school relatively for free, with minimal loans to accommodate my housing. This support I received has taken a big load of stress off me and my family.” Guest speaker Robert C. Cohen ’83, ’84, ’87, vice president of Global R&D and chief technology officer and a member of the NJIT Board of Trustees, said that today is the most interesting time for innovation, as demonstrated by advances in 3-D printing, augmented reality and simulation. “You have the opportunity to leave here with an education that’s exceptional,” Cohen told the student scholarship recipients. “You are entering the workforce at an extraordinary time.” Kiera Nissen, an environmental engineering major, was this year’s recipient of the Albert Dorman Future Leader award, established by the namesake of NJIT’s Honors College to acknowledge and recognize both academic excellence and the leadership skills and capacities of a student in the graduating class of Albert Dorman Honors College. For more information about establishing and supporting scholarships at NJIT, contact: Darlene Lamourt, Director of Donor Relations, at 973-596-3403 or darlene.lamourt@njit.edu. n

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Alumni Mentors Paying It Forward N


Technical School, our graduates have kept in touch with faculty, students and each other; pursuing a goal of training and recruiting the next generation of engineers, scientists, architects and leaders. Today, we call it mentorship, and it takes many forms.


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“Our honored veterans, for instance, return to offer their assistance and guidance to students in ROTC, and to other veterans returning to advance their education,” he explained. “Graduates of the Educational Opportunity Program have, from its inception, been integral to the support and success of their students. From a larger perspective, nearly all of our colleges, departments and student clubs invite graduates to network with students and fellow alumni during planned activities throughout the year. A mentor relationship also develops from the establishment of a personal connection. It might be a chance meeting at an event, or the introduction through a shared friend or family member, that sparks a conversation that leads to future success.” However it occurs, the results are always the same: mutual benefit, tremendous respect and PHOTO: OSCAR MASCIANDARO

enormous pride. There are so many alumni mentors and mentees, and so many stories of subsequent success, that it is nearly impossible to show them all. In fact, it is very likely that you yourself have mentored someone, or benefited from someone who provided you guidance when you needed it. In this article, we have asked a small, representative group of mentors and mentees to share a little about their experience, and why it has been so important to them. We hope that their stories will inspire you to consider a mentorship role in the future.

Left: Steven Saperstein ’84 and Alana Dudley ’17

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- Marjorie Perry ’05

STEVEN SAPERSTEIN ’84 Chief Operating Officer PGIM Fixed Income

ALANA DUDLEY ’17 Senior Performance Analysis Associate PGIM Fixed Income

NJIT: H ow did you meet your mentee? SS: I was introduced to Alana Dudley by Billy McDermott at NJIT. Over the years, NJIT will refer its top talent to me to mentor and consider for hiring at Prudential. NJIT: How did you decide to become a mentor? SS: I have been mentoring students at NJIT for 10-plus years and always like to give back to my alma mater. NJIT: What is the most valuable benefit or insight you’ve gained from being a mentor? SS: Students at NJIT are very skilled, smart and well-qualified. Outside of engineering, recruiting of students is developing at NJIT. Students often need connections and insights to help them better determine their career path. Since I am not an engineer and work in Financial Services, I find I am able to greatly help students seeking careers in my industry. NJIT: W hat advice do you have for others who seek to become a mentor? SS: Do it! With a small time commitment you can really make a difference in someone’s life. I did not have this opportunity and got lucky finding my job. I now realize the benefits I can give to someone starting their career. NJIT: H as your mentorship helped you in your career? SS: I recognized that Alana had strong leadership qualities and technical talent which I knew Prudential would benefit in having her join our company.


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NJIT: H ow did you decide to become a mentee? AD: My mentorship happened gradually over the years as I kept in contact with Mr. Saperstein. As I reached out, he would eagerly respond and give valuable insight. The more questions I asked, the more answers he would provide and his enthusiasm in doing so definitely made this mentorship opportunity possible. NJIT: H ow did you meet your mentor? AD: In college, I would take minutes for both the MTSM and CSLA advisory board meetings. I met Mr. Saperstein when I was a sophomore after one of those meetings. After briefly talking about my studies, campus involvement, and what I was looking to do after college, he gave me his business card and said, “Make sure you contact me before you graduate.” The rest is history. NJIT: W hat is the most valuable benefit or insight you’ve gained from being a mentee? AD: One of the largest lessons I’ve taken away from my mentor is that I need to be more comfortable being uncomfortable. I need to put myself out there and show my skill set and really go after opportunities that may arise or that I have the ability of making happen. Even though I may not be in a leadership role, taking the initiative is definitely something that needs to be done in a corporate setting. NJIT: W hat advice do you have for others who seek to become a mentee? AD: One of the most important things is constant communication. A professional relationship needs to be first initiated, but then maintained over time. I would advise others to find a mentor who they look up to and see as a good role model both personally and professionally. The best type of mentor is one who is able to put things into perspective and offer both support and advice. Both Mr. Saperstein and I have similar interests and a love for basketball. Knowing that I was a college athlete, he has taken the time

to break down various situations using basketball terminology. In doing so, I was better able to understand his teachings. NJIT: H as being mentored helped you in your career? AD: Being mentored has profoundly helped me in my career. Mr. Saperstein has helped me gain years’ worth of knowledge over the time that I’ve known him. He has been influential in my journey after college and my pursuit of a rewarding career. He continues to push me to perform at the best of my ability and gives me motivation toward achieving higher goals. I look forward to all of the future lessons that my mentor has to share.

NICHOLAS M. DeNICHILO ’73,’78 President and Chief Executive Officer Mott MacDonald

VATSAL A. SHAH ’08,’14 Senior Project Engineer Mott MacDonald

NJIT: H ow did you meet your mentee? ND: We met 10 years ago when Vatsal, a recent graduate, began working for Mott MacDonald. I recall having a conversation about starting a career as an engineer and the importance of continued education. It didn’t take much to convince Vatsal to pursue advanced degrees in your chosen profession while also learning your trade in the course of your work. I recall telling Vatsal that a good engineer knows his or her limitations and doesn’t ever feel insecure or intimidated about asking for advice. Getting to know Vatsal over the past 10 years , it’s no surprise that Vatsal pursued and received his master’s degree and doctorate at NJIT while working full time at Mott MacDonald. NJIT: H ow did you decide to become a mentor? ND: Becoming a mentor just comes naturally to me. My wife, Linda, and I have raised four sons who I’m proud to say are


Nicholas M. DeNichilo’73,’78 and Vatsal A. Shah ’08,’14

all doing well in their chosen professions. My personal experiences as a dad enable me to take a paternalistic approach when mentoring others. At times you need to be willing to have the difficult conversations and challenge each other’s thinking and actions, thereby building alignment which enables one to grow. I was very fortunate in my early years to have good mentors who have helped me along the way. We can all benefit by seeking advice and support from others. NJIT: W hat is the most valuable benefit or insight you’ve gained from being a mentor? ND: I get a tremendous sense of satisfaction in knowing that I may have had a small part

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in advancing someone’s career. In Vatsal’s case, it’s an absolute delight to see how this young graduate that I met about 10 years ago is now an emerging leader and shareholder at Mott MacDonald. Being a mentor and supporting mentorship at Mott MacDonald enables me in my role as CEO to unclog the leadership pipeline by preparing others to take over when you are no longer leading the business. NJIT: W hat advice do you have for others who seek to become a mentor? ND: It’s a great experience in helping one along in his or her career. It’s also a role that one must take very seriously as you are serving in a role where your guidance and advice will hopefully

influence positive outcomes. NJIT:. H as your mentorship helped you in your career? ND: Absolutely. By engaging with others in a mentor/mentee relationship, you at times become the mentee, thereby enabling you to learn and grow. You get a chance to understand and appreciate different points of view and learn from each other. My engineering career began in 1973, and a day doesn’t go by where you can’t learn and grow through the experiences and support of others. NJIT: H ow did you meet your mentor? VS: One week after finishing undergrad and graduating from NJIT in 2008, I kicked off

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my engineering career at Mott MacDonald (then Hatch Mott MacDonald), a global consulting engineering firm with U.S.-based headquarters in Millburn, New Jersey. Sitting in Human Resources waiting to be on-boarded on my first day, I met Nick as he was passing by to drop off some forms. I was wearing a suit for my first day and he made some quip that if I kept dressing for success, I’d end up the CEO one day. I noticed he had a friendly demeanor and sense of humor, so I struck up a conversation with some small talk which eventually snowballed into a full-on conversation about being a fellow Highlander, his fond memories and stories about his time at NJIT (it was then Newark College of Engineering, he reminded me), and his experience as a civil (water resources) engineer. I immediately saw Nick as someone who was not only a sharp, technical professional, but was someone who enjoyed sharing his experiences — he had two of the important ingredients that make up a good mentor in spades. Nick and I eventually parted ways after 15 minutes, but it was over a month later that I met him again and realized he, himself, was the president and CEO of our firm! NJIT: H ow did you decide to become a mentee? VS: I was looking for advice early in my career, and knew I wanted to get in touch with someone who had years of wisdom. I didn’t necessarily think I was becoming a “mentee” — just a young, new grad with an appetite for learning, success and (luckily) the self-awareness that I couldn’t learn and experience everything life had to offer on my own. NJIT: W hat is the most valuable benefit or insight you’ve gained from being a mentee? VS: I heard a powerful saying years ago that wisdom is either learned or earned. It’s learned (the easy way) if you reflect upon, listen to, or are taught the successes and difficulties that others have experienced, but it’s earned (the hard way) if you have 12

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to go and sweat through the experiences all on your own. Some people do quite well going through the hard work of a self-taught career, but truly successful individuals know when smart work is better than hard work. With that mindset, I think the most valuable benefit of being a mentee is being able to learn the experiences of someone else who has gone through more than you might have. They may not all be good experiences, bad experiences, or even relevant experiences, but they’re different experiences than yours. It would take several lifetimes to go through all the paths of a road in life, but being a mentee allows you to take the wisdom of one or even several people, condense this experience, and accelerate your learning. NJIT: W hat advice do you have for others who seek to become a mentee? VS: Mentorship is a two-way street, but it thrives on a give-and-take relationship. A few bits of advice I’ve gathered over my decade-long relationship with Nick: 1. Be teachable: Be open to learning new things, see things from a different perspective, and be willing to step out of your comfort zone. Growth is the product of a new experience. 2. Value their time: Mentors are usually experienced professionals with more demanding schedules and responsibilities. For every 30 minutes they’re willing to share, prepare two to three times that amount before your meeting. Think through your situation, focus your questions, and come prepared with a list of topics for the conversation. 3. Expect support, not miracles: Your mentor is there to provide insight and guidance, not solve your problem or make life’s tough choices for you. Ask your mentor to provide perspective, feedback on your thought process, or identify and link you to other resources/people who may be of help to you. 4. Be grateful: Follow up each meeting with a thank you note. Text messages and emails for our digital generation are good; a hand-written note is better. Never forget

to appreciate your mentor’s time. NJIT: H as being mentored helped you in your career? VS: I think being mentored has helped me tremendously in not just my career, but also my personal life. Early on in my career, I was focused on my technical skills and graduate studies. During this time it was mentors like Nick, my parents, and our Civil Engineering department chair (Dr. Taha Marhaba) who helped me make focused, smart decisions that allowed me to excel in my education and profession at a young age — I was a decorated, young Professional Engineer with a doctorate before my 27th birthday. Like most, years later into my career, my focus has shifted from managing my own goals to more responsibility and managing the needs of others. I’ve even become a mentor to several mentees of my own. As I go through this transition, I again lean on the perspectives and wisdom of mentors like Nick who are glad to share their experiences and who help connect me to resources (like a specific company-sponsored management training course or a friend or colleague who overcame a similar challenge) which I may find useful.

MARJORIE PERRY ’05 President and Chief Executive Officer MZM Construction & Management

RASHMI KAMKERI ’18 NJIT: H ow did you meet your mentee? MP: She did a cold call to my office in May, wanted to meet me and asked if I would take her on for an internship so she could gain work experience. That impressed me. NJIT: How did you decide to become a mentor? MP: I don’t know if it was ever a conscious decision. I found myself going through so many trials and errors during my career, I just decided to give my best advice to the best students who are open to listening

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Marjorie Perry ’05 and Rashmi Kamkeri ’18

and learning. NJIT: W hat is the most valuable benefit or insight you’ve gained from being a mentor? MP: I love watching the caterpillar become a butterfly; then I know I’ve done my job. NJIT: W hat advice do you have for others who seek to become a mentor? MP: You cannot seek to be a mentor; it is a passion you have to want to share and teach others. Everybody, when you think about it, is a mentor to somebody; just be sure to give objective advice and let them grow at their own pace. NJIT: Has your mentorship helped you in your career? MP: I would not say my career; I will say it supports my personal growth to be a strong, passionate leader who can never say she has learned it all. It keeps you open to learning from your mentee, which is a win for both sides that carries over into business. NJIT: H ow did you meet your mentor? RK: It was summer 2018 when I was looking for internships in the civil engineering field, as I wanted to gain some exposure to real-time projects in civil industry. One of the professors in my department suggested that I inquire about the opportunities at the NJIT Enterprise Development Center and he specifically mentioned MZM. After that, I read about her company and I was really impressed by her achievements. That’s how I decided to send her an email and see if she had any opportunities for me during the summer. NJIT: H ow did you decide to become a mentee? RK: At the end of May 2018 after finishing my exams, I went to her company; it was around 4 p.m. I told her that I was a master’s student looking for an internship in the construction field, and I was interested to

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learn whatever I could during this summer, and I would be glad if she could train me as an intern. She was very welcoming, she liked my interest and asked me to come the next morning for the meeting. I was surprised but happy for the fact that she gave me an opportunity and told me that she would be giving a taste of everything that she does in construction project management.

NJIT: W hat is the most valuable benefit or insight you’ve gained from being a mentee? RK: It’s hard to choose one, because there are a lot of valuable insights that I have gained here: to be proactive, communicate effectively, learn to think out of the box, be observant, and to ask questions when you need help. Every day she made sure she pointed out where I was going wrong and

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how to improve on that. She encouraged me a lot throughout the internship, and during the final review she made me know my strengths and weaknesses and told me how to improve on that. She always said she believes in excellence and asked me never to be mediocre; for me, I think this is the most valuable insight that I have received. NJIT: W hat advice do you have for others who seek to become a mentee? RK: I would suggest to always look for opportunities around you. Read about entrepreneurs in your field, because they are the ones who teach us a lot. For students, it’s not just learning the technological side, but also getting great mentorship with great values from leaders that makes an internship successful. NJIT: Has being mentored helped you in your career? RK: Of course, yes, civil industry is a field in which you understand things when you see how the real-time projects work. For me, it’s been just one year since I came to the U.S. and getting exposed to the procedures on how the projects work, attending project meetings, preparing reports for site visits, communicating effectively, and understanding different construction documents have given a great start to my professional career. I will always be grateful to Marjorie Perry for taking her time to mentor me; she has given me the best from her side.

SUSANA HOLGUIN-VERAS ’06 Director of Marketing Howard L. Zimmerman Architects, P.C.

ASHLEY GRIFFITH ’19 NJIT: H ow did you meet your mentee? SHV: Ashley participated last year in the Student Ambassadors initiative of the New York Metro Alumni Committee, of which I am a member, and made a positive impression on the committee. She was 14

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enthusiastic, dedicated, and showed a great work ethic through her involvement in multiple extra-curricular activities. NJIT: H ow did you decide to become a mentor? SHV: When the time came for our firm to seek summer interns, NJIT seemed like a natural starting point for the search, as I’m well aware of the strength of the architecture program. NJIT: W hat is the most valuable benefit or insight you’ve gained from being a mentor? SHV: There is great value in working with students who are eager to learn and who share similar educational experiences. I am also immensely grateful to those who have provided guidance in my own career, and it is a privilege to be able to do the same for others. NJIT: W hat advice do you have for others who seek to become a mentor? SHV: Design a mentorship opportunity that offers long-term value to the student, that provides a foundation for future success, and that allows the student to learn multiple aspects of their profession. In particular, focus on students who will truly benefit from the exposure and who show both talent and disposition.

Alumni Association. I am a student ambassador for the NJIT Alumni Association and met Susana at one of the New York Metro Alumni meetings. I was then looking for an internship for summer 2018 and Danielle Siemons, the assistant director of Alumni Relations, connected me with Susana since she was working at an architecture firm in New York City, Howard L. Zimmerman Architects, P.C. I went in for an interview and officially got to know Susana better and I have worked alongside her all summer as her intern. NJIT: What is the most valuable benefit or insight you’ve gained from being a mentee? AG: I have definitely gained a lot of knowledge and connections. Throughout the course of the summer, Susana has taught me how to use many new programs. These programs have allowed me to acquire skills that I will be able to use throughout the rest of my time at NJIT, as well as throughout the rest of my career. In addition, I have also gained many connections. Susana is a wellconnected member of HLZA and with this I have been given the opportunity to meet just about everyone in our office. Feeling connected and getting to know everyone was truly a memorable experience.

NJIT: H ow did you meet your mentor? AG: I decided to become a mentee when I met Susana through the Alumni Association. I was lucky enough that Susana was willing to take the time out of her day to teach me about her position at HLZA and train me to help her with projects. It worked out that she was on the Board for the Alumni Association and I was a student ambassador and we both had the same major. Becoming a mentee was a very important decision because it has opened so many doors and connections for me!

NJIT: What advice do you have for others who seek to become a mentee? AG: Being a mentee is a very valuable experience. Having someone to guide you and help you makes adjusting to an office job much easier. Before Susana, I never really had anyone at any job before that really guided me through the whole process and was willing to hands-on teach me more about the architecture field. Susana also went to NJIT for architecture, so it was nice to have someone who I had so much in common with and I could go to anytime I needed help.

NJIT: H ow did you decide to become a mentee? AG: I met my mentor though the NJIT

NJIT: Has being mentored helped you in your career? AG: My mentor has opened my eyes to all

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- Nicholas M. DeNichilo ’73, ’78 the possible options I can look into for being an architect. There are so many subfields under architecture and she has definitely helped me to see all of those. She has also helped me to conduct myself well in an office setting and in meetings. She is great at explaining tasks and allows me to help with a lot of different projects. n Author: Christina Crovetto is editor of NJIT Magazine. Introduction by Michael Smullen.

Right: Ashley Griffith ’19 and Susana Holguin-Veras ’06

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From Eyesores


Community Assets: NJIT’s New Jersey Innovation Institute Brownfields Program 16

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TOP LEFT: The Maine Leathers Tannery site prior to cleanup. BOTTOM LEFT: The Maine Leathers Tannery site post-cleanup. TOP RIGHT: The Harrison Avenue Landfill in Camden, N.J. precleanup. BOTTOM RIGHT: The Harrison Avenue Landfill in Camden, N.J. is now the site of the Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.


he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines brownfield sites as real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. The exact number of brownfield sites in the United States is unknown; however, the generally accepted estimate is that there are more than 500,000 sites. These sites range in size from very small parcels of less than an acre that could have occupied a former gasoline station or dry cleaner to sites of several hundred or thousand acres that could have accommodated a former steel mill or military installation. Brownfield sites are distributed throughout the country in rural, suburban, and urban communities, but major concentrations are in the Northeast and rust belt of the Midwest, where much of the nation’s heavy industrial and manufacturing activity was historically based. Many communities face numerous challenges and obstacles when attempting to clean up and redevelop their brownfield sites. That’s where NJIT’s New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII) comes in. The multi-million dollar, robust and multi-faceted Brownfields Program run by NJII is focused on assisting communities with advancing their sites through the planning, assessment, cleanup and redevelopment processes, as well as providing educational and engagement forums centered on brownfields and brownfieldsrelated issues. Its multidisciplinary team of environmental scientists, planners and engineers have extensive experience in the areas of government, industry, consulting and academic research. The team has spent the past several years working with groups – from states, to towns, to nonprofit organizations – in over 20 states throughout the East Coast. The technical assistance provided by NJII’s brownfields team ranges from providing guidance on how to secure EPA funding, how to navigate the regulatory process, and how to decipher technical documents such as site characterization results; to creating community specific brownfields strategic plans, assets and needs studies, and redevelopment visions.

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The type of contamination problems at brownfield sites also varies widely. These may include: asbestos; leaking underground storage tanks that generally cause petroleum contamination; and soil and water contamination caused by the discharge or dumping of organic and inorganic chemicals such as petrochemicals, solvents, heavy metals and lead. Not all brownfield sites are environmentally contaminated; some sites are merely perceived to be contaminated, and that perception inhibits their reuse. Brownfield sites usually contain moderate to low levels of contamination. They usually do not represent the type and level of contamination problems dealt with under Federal and State Superfund programs.

Whether contaminated or not, these sites are a blight to those communities, many of them home to vulnerable populations, in which they are located, contributing to disinvestment, economic decline, depressed property values, access to natural resources, and more.

BROWNFIELDS AS OPPORTUNITIES Several steps are involved in determining the potential for and extent of contamination of a site. These include: coordinating with the pertinent regulatory agencies, retaining the services of a consultant to carry out the site investigations, and conducting the necessary investigations. There are numerous

CATALYZING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: THE CITY OF CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY Economic development is a major focus of the Camden Redevelopment Agency (CRA). Recognizing that brownfield sites present an opportunity to catalyze economic development, NJII’s brownfields team developed a way for CRA to focus its efforts on sites with the greatest potential by creating a site prioritization process. Evaluation criteria largely based on existing conditions were developed and applied to each of 27 identified brownfield sites in order to prioritize the sites and identify which had a higher potential for economic redevelopment and revenue generation. A determination of potential redevelopment uses was made for each site, ballpark remedial cost estimates were created, and potential funding sources for that remediation were identified. All of this information was then used to create a Brownfields Redevelopment Strategic Plan that included a list of prioritized sites in order of potential for economic redevelopment. This Plan has given the City of Camden a solid base in which to pursue the revitalization of economically challenged communities within the city and the potential to realize many of the goals outlined in its master and various neighborhood redevelopment plans. “Colette and her amazing staff provided essential technical support to the CRA and the City of Camden in developing our Brownfields Redevelopment Strategic Plan,” said James Harveson, Director of Economic Development, CRA. “The Plan provides us with a straightforward vehicle by which we can communicate our brownfields redevelopment priorities to our stakeholders and funders, based upon rational criteria. As a result, of the 27 sites identified in the Plan, nine have either been remediated and redeveloped or are in the process. To a large degree, we could not have made this progress without the level of focus provided by NJII.”


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economic, environmental and social benefits that a community can expect upon the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields sites. Examples of economic benefits include (but are not limited to) an increase in local tax base and new job growth. There are numerous tax incentives from both state and local governments available for brownfields projects. Environmental benefits include reuse of existing infrastructure, development pressure taken off undeveloped land (greenfields), prevention of sprawl, and reduced natural habitat destruction. Social benefits include alleviation of community fears of health and safety hazards and creation of community assets such as parks and housing. Up to 33% of assessments conducted with EPA brownfields grants reveal that no cleanup was necessary and that the site was ready for development. This quick reuse is good for the developer, the local government who has been losing tax revenue, and the local community who has been living with all the ills associated with a potentially hazardous blighted site within their neighborhood. Heading the brownfields team is Colette Santasieri ’89, ’12, executive director of policy and planning innovation for civil infrastructure and environment at NJII. Santasieri has more than 30 years of public and private sector environmental and civil engineering experience. She has served as principal investigator and project manager for applied research and planning and engineering projects involving strategic planning; transportation planning; brownfields; transit-oriented development; port-city relationships, and NEPA compliance. Santasieri is the leader of NJII’s Civil Infrastructure and Environment iLab. In 2017, she received an Alumni Achievement Award from the NJIT Alumni Association. She earned a Ph.D. in urban systems and a master’s degree in civil engineering from NJIT and a n j i t .e du

LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. Colette Santasieri, NJII’s Executive Director, Policy and Planning Innovation for Civil Infrastructure and Environment, welcomed attendees to NJII-hosted Brightfields 2018, a national event focused on solar development on brownfield sites, in June. 2. Elizabeth Limbrick (standing, at left) with community members at a brownfields workshop in Richmond, Va. 3. Sean Vroom (at right) giving a tour of the High Line, a rail line converted into a park, to a community brownfields advisory committee. 4. Gary White (at right), project manager, at the 2017 Brownfields Conference


NOT JUST AN URBAN ISSUE: THE TOWN OF DOVER-FOXCROFT, MAINE Brownfields are not just an urban issue. Rural communities are also dotted with brownfield sites and face unique challenges in redeveloping these sites into community assets. The NJII brownfields team assisted the Town of Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, in building community consensus for the redevelopment of a 45-acre site that once held a former woolen mill (1829-1953) and the Maine Leathers Tannery (1955-1975). The site’s Environmental Assessment began in the 1990s and the site’s remediation began in 2012, but the ultimate reuse of the site had not been determined. The NJII brownfields team developed a community engagement framework and then led workshops with the community’s core stakeholders and public. A community consensus was reached for the short-term redevelopment goals, uses and activities for the site, as well as potential long-term site uses and activities. Dover-Foxcroft recognized that while it had a goal of cleaning up a contaminated site and establishing a recreational area, it didn’t know exactly how the area should be redeveloped. Working with the NJII staff, the town was able to hold a charrette with multiple public meetings to understand what would be most favorable in terms of a recreational area and be highly utilized by the public. This forum was also a chance to talk about the nature of the task of cleaning up the site and the changes to expect in that area as a result of cleaning up the site, i.e., more open space, hiking trails resulting from remediation activities, and better views of the river. The charrette process allowed the town an opportunity to incorporate the vision that was articulated by the public into the brownfields remediation process. “We feel we have a much better and more highly utilized area because of our work in the charrette process and the technical assistance provided by NJII,” said Jack Clukey, Town Manager, Dover-Foxcroft. “Working with NJII staff has been a wonderful and beneficial experience for the Town of Dover-Foxcroft. We would not have had the outcomes with our project had we not worked with them. We would enthusiastically recommend that other communities work with NJII in similar ways so they can maximize the outcomes of projects.”

- Colette Santasieri ’89, ‘12

bachelor’s degree in environmental planning and design from Rutgers University. These diverse yet complementary degrees, coupled with her experience, provide her with a unique and well-rounded perspective in addressing the challenges and opportunities facing governments, regions and cities in their efforts to be sustainable and resilient. “The brownfields redevelopment process can be long and complicated,” said Santasieri. “We provide assistance at all different times during the process depending on when the community needs us to get engaged and sometimes we’re involved in every step depending on the challenges being faced by the community. Our assistance is tailored to meet the community’s needs. Because we have a multidisciplinary staff of professionals with experience in not only the technical aspects of brownfields cleanups, but also in various other disciplines such as urban, environmental, and transportation planning, we can help communities see beyond the contamination. We see brownfields as opportunities, and we help the community envision how that site fits within the njit. edu

context of that community, and how it can be transformed from an eyesore to a community asset.” “Sometimes it’s simply laying out what that process is,” added Sean Vroom, director, Policy and Planning Innovation for Civil Infrastructure and Environment. “A lot of our clients are nonprofit community organizations and smaller rural communities that don’t know the first thing about brownfields or how to go about cleaning them up and redeveloping them, so we will design a road map with all of the steps necessary to get the job done.”

BUILDING COMMUNITY CAPACITY Another aspect of NJII’s brownfields program involves creating educational and engagement opportunities centered on brownfields and brownfields-related issues. “We speak at conferences and seminars throughout the country on many topics including transforming brownfield sites into urban agriculture, and turning brownfields into healthfields,” said Elizabeth Limbrick, LSRP, PG, NJII’s project manager. “We also

collaborate with many state environmental and economic development departments and professional organizations in planning the content and selecting the speakers for their conferences.” “We also design and hold brownfields workshops and bootcamps on topics such as: Brownfields 101; creative placemaking; and green stormwater infrastructure,” said Gary White, project manager. “Our aim is to provide tools and build community capacity, helping to transform a site that can be a catalyst for positive changes in a community,” added Vroom. The team has received positive feedback on their educational forums, including the “Brownfields for Bankers” seminar presented in Vermont. “There was more content in today’s (three-hour) presentation than we usually see in a full day’s seminar,” said Terry Martin, vice president of Mascoma Savings Bank. “Excellent, well-presented and organized, and VERY professional.” n Author: Christina Crovetto is editor of NJIT Magazine. N J I T M A G A Z I N E | FA L L 2 0 1 8


s ’ y e s r e J w e N The Making of b u H c i s e n r e r u o F t t u F Firs A e e r g e D e c n e d i c n S a h c r a e Program: Res

Dean Belfield operating a Thermo Scientific Dionex UltiMate 3000 autosampler, used for detecting and analyzing minute traces of sample materials collected from crime scenes.

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e c n e i c S c i for Forens T I J N t a s e g r e m E n o Educati T

his fall, NJIT’s College of Science and Liberal Arts will launch its new Forensic Science B.S. degree program — the first undergraduate forensic science program to be offered in the State of New Jersey. The 120-credit degree also will be the first undergraduate program in the New York-metropolitan region and was designed from the outset to meet standards set by the leading accrediting body in college-level forensic science academics, the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). Before arriving at NJIT as Dean of the College of Science and Liberal Arts, Dr. Kevin Belfield oversaw one of the largest undergraduate forensic science degree programs in the country as part of his role as chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Central Florida. As a leader of NJIT’s new forensic science program, we sat down with Belfield, who discussed the unique aspects and inspiration behind the program’s launch, as well as some of the research trends shaping the field of forensic science today.

Q. W hat was the initial inspiration behind bringing New Jersey’s first undergraduate forensic science program to NJIT? A. C oming from my experience overseeing the forensic science program at the University of Central Florida, I naturally began looking at the potential for a forensic science program in the state of New Jersey and was astonished to find that although there were some forensic science-related courses being taught at several universities in the state, there was no degree program being offered at the undergraduate or graduate degree level. This meant that a New Jersey resident who previously wanted to study and earn a degree in forensic science has had no choice but to go out of state and pay out-of-state or private school tuition. We also found that many crime labs and investigatory sites in the state have

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had to recruit talent exclusively from out-of-state colleges with forensic science programs. We began to put together a professional advisory committee and sought feedback from forensic professionals throughout the state to help discuss ideas for developing a forensic science program at NJIT. The feedback we received was overwhelming. Very quickly, it became evident that there was great professional interest and need for a program like this in New Jersey. Q. W hat do you think makes NJIT ideal for such a unique program at this moment in time? A. I think this is a program that’s time has come. It is the right time for NJIT in many ways to launch this program for New Jersey’s citizens, who will now be able to earn a forensic science


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“ My vision and goal is that NJIT’s program grows to become the best physical science-oriented forensic science program in the country.” - Kevin Belfield degree in-state. Our state and local law enforcement crime labs have also long deserved a program within the state to help generate its future workforce and to collaborate with in research. As scientific advances continue and the field of forensic science becomes more quantitative and more technical, I believe students will have a distinct advantage coming from a polytechnic university like NJIT that is recognized for its research and strength in technology, mathematics and physical science. My vision and goal is that NJIT’s program grows to become the best physical science-oriented forensic science program in the country. Q. Could you talk about the special accreditation status this program is designed to achieve? What makes it so significant in your view? A. I n the not-too-distant future, there will likely be more and more positions in crime laboratories that require a

degree from an accredited forensic science program. Already, the F.B.I. requires candidates to complete certain coursework in order to be certified as a forensic DNA analyst. There are few, if any, polytechnic universities in the country with an accredited forensic science program. NJIT is ready to feature the only forensic science undergraduate program in the region that was designed from the outset to meet all of the curricular and professional requirements set by FEPAC. We’ve recruited a number of experts and special consultants to serve on the professional advisory board for the development of this program. In particular, we have designed this program with our goals for national accreditation by working closely with Dr. Mathew Wood, director of the Ocean County Crime Lab, who sits on the FEPAC’s national accrediting committee. Between the rigor of our program’s curriculum and high entrance requirements for our students, I am confident that within a very short amount of time NJIT’s program will be regarded as one of the strongest forensic science programs in the nation. Q. W hat new scientific advances or trends in research do you see impacting the field of forensic science today?

A. M any of these advances are technologydriven. New developments in trace analysis are now allowing scientists to analyze smaller and smaller amounts of material with greater and greater precision. There is also growing reliance on advances in DNA analysis for prosecuting or defending accused people as well. With that, there has been increased awareness of the limitations of the stability of DNA and how it can be analyzed. These new developments are constantly increasing the technical demands of those in the field. Someone who graduated with a forensic science degree 15 years ago might not even be aware of many techniques that are available now, whether it is new techniques for DNA and serology analysis, or new methods for trace evidence analysis of paints, fibers or hair. It is an exciting time that requires knowledgeable practitioners with exceptional training in mathematics, statistics and the physical sciences. Q. What are some of the important ways NJIT’s program is addressing the new demands and changes in the field? A. O ur program emphasizes some of NJIT’s core strengths, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. Having this type of academic foundation will be

a defining characteristic of our graduates, and will prepare them for some of the increasing technical demands that the field will challenge them with as it evolves in the future. We have attracted experts in the field of forensic science that will instruct the program’s core courses such as Dr. Hao Chen, one of the country’s experts in mass spectrometry and trace evidence analysis, who is joining our efforts from his previous position as professor of forensic chemistry at Ohio University. We are also in the process of recruiting a highly experienced member of the region’s professional forensic science community as the program’s Professor of Practice in Forensic Science. We have been approved for a state-ofthe-art forensic science instructional laboratory that is being built this fall. Over the next year, we will equip the lab with cutting-edge instrumentation and it will serve as home for all of the laboratory components involved in the program’s forensic science core courses. Lastly, we have fostered strong partnerships with many of New Jersey’s local and state crime laboratories and investigative offices, some of which will be involved in facilitating the program’s “Forensic Science Capstone Course,” which is designed to provide research opportunities and internships that will bring vital professional experience to students.


Q. W hat are some of the notable partnerships that NJIT has forged already through the development of this program? A. Th e development of NJIT’s forensic science program has brought tremendous opportunity, not only for educational and professional development collaboration, but research collaboration with the state’s professionals. Universities can often be important test beds that support the surrounding professional forensic community, working with crime labs to investigate new techniques and how they might be applied to analyze evidence. From our program’s advisory committee, we have developed a strong partnership with Dr. Wood and members from the Ocean County Crime Lab. They will be key collaborators that will work alongside us on education and research. Other advisory committee members have come from New Jersey’s Northern Regional Medical Examiner Office, which is located in very close proximity to NJIT’s campus. Through connections with professionals at their office and toxicology lab, I envision a strong partnership there. Along with many other partnerships with crime labs and investigatory sites across the state, NJIT also has a number of researchers that are currently funded by the National Institute of Justice. With Dr. Chen’s arrival and his reputation in the field, I expect we will develop natural research collaborations as well.

Q. How do you envision this program growing to benefit New Jersey’s students and the state’s professional forensic research community in the future? A. N ew Jersey students will be able to pay in-state tuition and conveniently attend a highly respected technical university that rigorously trains them as a professional in the forensic field. In 10 or 15 years, it is quite possible that many of our state’s crime labs will be dominated by NJIT graduates. On the other side, our state’s crime labs and professional forensics community will have a high-quality, in-state university to partner with to ensure students have the specific skills and experience they need. They will not only be able to recruit highly trained students more easily, but will also be able to collaborate with NJIT on cutting-edge forensic science research. I believe that this is going to be a big boon for students and forensic professionals of New Jersey, and is a great opportunity for many exciting research partnerships at NJIT in the future. n Author: Jesse Jenkins is a staff writer/ editor in NJIT’s Office of Strategic Communications.

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Your legacy. Their future.

Meet Brian G. Kiernan, Newark College of Engineering class of 1970. A recognized leader in the wireless communications industry who made major contributions to the development of global wireless techniques and standards, Brian has remained a highly engaged alumnus. He currently serves as the advisory board chair of NJIT’s interdisciplinary and highly competitive Undergraduate Research and Innovation (URI) program. Each year, URI offers NJIT undergraduates the opportunity to conduct research and product development under the guidance of both faculty and industry partners. He also serves as a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Industrial Advisory Board. Aware of the critical importance of a rigorous, hands-on STEM education to our nation and the world, Brian’s decision to leave NJIT a seven-figure gift was a no-brainer. His generosity will ultimately benefit both students participating in URI and those pursuing degrees in electrical and computer engineering. “NJIT (NCE) is where I got my start,” Brian notes. “It launched me into a successful 40-year career – as an engineer, program manager, corporate executive, and entrepreneur – during which I was able to contribute to communications advances that have reshaped the lives of countless people around the world. I hope to pay forward the gifts that NCE gave me and help ensure that future generations of NJIT students are in the best possible position to contribute to the technological breakthroughs and discoveries that will drive the future.” In addition to his generous bequest intention, Brian is also leading a $500,000 challenge campaign to raise current funding for URI. He has pledged to match, dollar for dollar, all gifts directed to the URI program prior to December 31, 2018. To learn more about this challenge and how you can participate, please visit nnit.edu/uri-challenge.

INTERESTED? For more information on how you can have a lasting impact on high-achieving and hardworking NJIT students, please visit njit.giftplans.org or contact us today. Kenneth Alexo, Jr., Ph.D. Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations 973-596-8293 kenneth.alexo@njit.edu


MAL & FRIENDS NJIT Magazine invites new correspondents to join Mal Simon in sharing news about class members and alumni organizations. Professor emeritus of physical education and athletics, Mal was director of physical education and athletics, and men’s soccer coach, for 30 years. In 1993, he received the Cullimore Medal for his service to the university. If you would like to be a regular correspondent, don’t hesitate to send an email to the editor of NJIT Magazine: crovetto@njit.edu First, the latest news from Mal –


ere is a question to test your memory. What two events happened at NCE in 1949? Give up? 1949 was the year in which the baseball team and Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 490 were established. In its early years, as many as 400-500 students (cadets), which included students from Rutgers-Newark and Stevens, were enrolled in the AFROTC program. The detachment was very active and included a drill team called the Highland Rifles. I remember being awed by the drill team’s

Vasilik, who completed their AFROTC program and were commissioned 2nd Lieutenants in the USAF. Also featured will be Walter Appel (Rutgers UniversityNewark ’62), Keth Edmondsen ’69 and Bob Lucas, a respected officer in the AFROTC detachment during the group’s college days. The idea for the column lit a light bulb when I received an email and photo from Dennis Beebe. All in all, it was a team effort that would not have been completed without their input when I contacted them to make sure I had all the details correct.


begin flight training when his orders were rescinded and he was told to return to Los Angeles AFB. He was able to negotiate an assignment to Cape Canaveral, Florida, where he was a member of the Minuteman III launch team. In 1971, Dennis served as a civil engineer in Thailand after which he was assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C., from 1972-75. From 1975 to 1979, he was assigned to the Advanced Ballistic Reentry Systems office and the F-15 Anti-Satellite program at the Los Angeles AFB. For his last two assignments, he was appointed Commander of the Missile Test Group at Vandenberg AFB where the first Peacekeeper test ICBMs were launched, and finally back at the Los Angeles AFB as program director of the Inertial Upper Stage and Deputy Commander for launch systems. After his retirement from the USAF in 1988, Dennis joined a group of retired military officers — many who were generals and admirals — who consulted for U.S aerospace companies. Their primary job was evaluating proposals

“ 1949 was the year in which the baseball team and Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 490 were established.” performance at the Washington, D.C. armory. I also recall fondly the Military Ball, at which Bob Swanson, Paul Hausser and I were judges to select the ball’s queen, and the “dining in” for officers and cadets where toast after toast were made, each one followed by spectacular hijinks as the number of toasts increased. At the end of their sophomore year, the students had to commit to a minimum of four years in the United States Air Force (USAF) after graduation or leave the program. Those who stayed on would receive their commissions at a ceremony after graduation from NCE. This column will feature a group of 1962 NCE alumni, Dennis Beebe, Joe Crecca, Bob DuBois, Ray O’Mara, Arnie Simonsen and Mike njit . edu

DENNIS BEEBE’S commissioning was delayed due to a collapsed lung he incurred during his junior year’s Summer Training Unit (STU). As a result, he had to attend another STU prior to being commissioned in July 1962. He then earned a master’s degree at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) for two years. Dennis spent most of his USAF career in Research and Development (R&D), mostly in missiles and space, with assignments at Los Angeles AFB and Vandenberg AFB in California, and Patrick AFB in Florida. In 1967, the collapsed lung incident again caused a change in his USAF future. He was almost on his way to Reese AFB in Texas to

prior to their submission to government agencies. Their consulting work included significant Department of Defense weapon systems and programs such as the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35), the Airborne Tanker (KC-46) and many satellite and launch vehicle programs including the European Ariane launch site in South America. Dennis has fond memories of being on the NCE fencing team when Paul Hausser was coach. He recalls how he came to be on the saber squad. Paul would begin all his fencers with the basic foil weapon, which required more finesse than the epee and saber weapons. After observing Dennis, he handed him a saber, voila! Dennis volunteers for a number of nonprofits, including being a docent at a N J I T M A G A Z I N E | FA L L 2 0 1 8




nature reserve and teaching woodworking in the summer to grades K-6. He and his wife, Chris, live in Solvang, California. WALT APPEL attended Seton Hall Preparatory School before enrolling at NCE. Walt decided after one year at NCE that engineering was not for him, so he transferred to Rutgers-Newark as an economics and marketing major. As his main objective was to get a commission in the USAF, he stayed in the AFROTC at NCE. After he became a 2nd Lieutenant, he served at Stead AFB in Nevada, Shephard AFB in Texas, Tan Son Nhut AFB outside Saigon, and McGuire AFB in New Jersey. He retired from the service in 1965 and enrolled at Lehigh University, where he earned a master’s degree in business cycles and forecasting. Walt spent 31 years from 1966 to 1997 at Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company in Newark. He started as a fixed income securities analyst and ended up as the company vice president and treasurer. As a longtime railroad enthusiast, Walt wrote a weekly rail and travel column for the Newark Sunday News, including one year from Vietnam, until the paper ceased publication in 1972. The column was titled “High Iron,” which is a railroad slang term for the main line. Walt has also written three railroad history books. His first book, ALCO Official Photography, is a collection of color photos of new diesel locomotives produced by the American Locomotive Company of Schenectady, New York. The second book, Trackside along the B&O, which he wrote with Edward P Griffith, a graduate of Stevens Institute of Technology, includes photos of steam and diesel locomotives, employees and industries. The last book, Jersey Central Lines in Color, Vol. 3, is a history of the Jersey Central from the 1940s until its absorption into Conrail in 1976. Walt and his wife, Sandra, live in Lynwood, Virginia. 26 N J I T M A G A Z I N E | F A L L 2 0 1 8

JOE CRECCA is NCE’s bona fide hero. He took a different route to achieve his singular objective to be a USAF officer and fighter pilot. In his own inimitable style, he wrote, “I went to a local school offering an engineering degree; not one of those wimpy liberal arts colleges where I could get an education in stuffy, useless subjects like business, finance and politics. Nope. It was mechanical engineering at NCE for me. Four years later and many hours of wailing, gnashing of teeth and lost sleep, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree.” He began working as an ordinance engineer at Picatinny Arsenal, the headquarters of the United States Army Munitions Command. Midway through 1963 the Vietnam War heated up and Joe decided it was time for him to get involved. He passed his Air Force Officer Qualifying Test and

Joe Crecca ’62

after completing pilot training with “flying colors” received an assignment to George AFB, California, to fly F-4C Phantoms. Joe flew his first combat mission out of Danang AFB, North Korea, in August 1966. Three months later, while on his 87th mission near Hanoi, North Korea, his plane was shot down by a Russian Surface to Air Missile (SAM). Joe and the plane’s other pilot, Scotty Wilson, both ejected. Scotty perished when a second SAM detonated next to where his parachute opened. Joe was immediately captured

upon landing. Thus began his 2,281 days as a prisoner-of-war in North Korea’s infamous Hanoi Hilton until his release and repatriation in February 1973. For the first 228 days, Joe was held in solitary confinement until his status was upgraded to include a cellmate. In the summer of 1968, Joe was caught trying to pass a note to another prisoner and was returned to solitary confinement in a cell right next to USN Lieutenant John Sidney McCain. They tapped through the wall to each other. Although already badly injured, McCain had an arm broken for defying the Viet Cong. Despite this, he continued to tap words of encouragement to Joe and was an inspiration to all who knew him. During the next few years, Joe and the other POWs were moved to different prisons, all the time enduring vicious treatment, especially if they were caught talking to another POW. In 1970, when they were in large cells of 50 POWs, their treatment eased and they began to hold classes in various subjects that made their prison life almost bearable. Joe taught math, physics, classical music and automotive theory and practice. On February 18, 1973, Joe was released from captivity and returned home. While a prisoner, he demonstrated his strength of character and when released showed he had not lost his sense of humor by writing that “All good things must come to an end.” After repatriation, Joe flew F-4Fs in the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing and the 3246th Test Wing at Eglin AFB in Florida. Then when Joe was to be assigned a desk job, he decided to leave the USAF to fly Douglas DC-8s and Boeing 747s for the Flying Tiger Cargo Line and later for Federal Express on domestic and international routes before retiring in 2005. Joe has received numerous well-deserved honors including being inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum in New Jersey. He also is featured in the Museum of Flight, the world’s largest nonprofit air and n j i t .e du


space museum in Seattle, Washington, where he is actively involved in the B-52 Restoration Project, a plane that saved his life 40 years ago. Joe and his wife, Joan, who hails from Liverpool, England, now reside in North Bend, Washington. The first week of June 1962 was the beginning of a long journey for BOB DUBOIS. It began with marriage to Anne, his wife of 56 years and followed within days by graduation and commissioning in the USAF. Bob and Anne set off on a honeymoon car trip around the United States, the highlight of which was a week’s stay in Oregon with his favorite AFROTC professor, Captain Bob Lucas and his wife,

the engineering consulting business. In 1982, he joined Science and Engineering Associates (SEA), and later JAYCOR, and Los Alamos Technical Associates (LATA), becoming a vice president at each of these companies. At LATA, Bob started a new division that provided local “Russian” engineering and logistics support to U.S. Government-sponsored projects in the former Soviet Union (FSU) aimed at eliminating as many ex-Soviet weapons of mass destruction as possible. In 1996, he formed a new company, Technology Management Company, Inc. (TMC), which grew into a multi-million dollar, Albuquerque-based employee-owned


in Virginia and his final assignment as director of the Defense Mapping Agency, also in Virginia. Ray flew 172 missions in Southeast Asia as a B-52 bomber pilot. His favorite aircraft was the FB-111, in which he progressed as the junior pilot in 1970 to wing commander in 1985. In addition to numerous other aircraft, Ray flew the EA-6B and F-14 off the carrier Saratoga, and the Buccaneer, Harrier and Nimrod planes while with the RAF. After retirement, Ray worked for one year with Mason and Hanger in Lexington, Kentucky, after which he was hired as a program manager by Booz Allen Hamilton, a management and technology

“ Bob’s NCE engineering education combined with 20 years of USAF experience provided him with a solid understanding of complex problem solving which led to a new career in the engineering consulting business.” Dot. In September, Bob and Anne arrived in Durham, New Hampshire, to begin a graduate program in electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire. His “real” USAF career began a year later at Griffiss AFB in Rome, New York, followed by the Air Force Weapons Lab at Kirkland AFB in New Mexico, where he got involved in nuclear weapon development and system survivability. This background led Bob to a survivability assignment with S-Cubed in San Diego, California, tours with the Minuteman System Program at Norton AFB in California, the Minuteman logistics center at Hill AFB in Utah, and the Nuclear Missile and Weapons office at the Pentagon and then back to Kirkland AFB at the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center. In 1982, firmly settled with his family in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he did not want to move again and decided to retire from the USAF. Bob’s NCE engineering education combined with twenty years of USAF experience provided him with a solid understanding of complex problem solving which led to a new career in

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company with projects throughout the FSU countries plus projects in over 50 other countries around the world. Bob retired from TMC in 2013. RAY O’MARA transferred to NCE from St. Peter’s College. He had some classes to make up due to his transfer and graduated in 1963, but stayed in touch with his 1962 classmates over the years. Ray worked as a manufacturing engineer at Western Electric in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he met and married his wife, Carole. He intended to return to Western Electric after his Air Force commitment but the love of flying and life in the Air Force intervened, so 31 years later he retired from the USAF at the rank of Major General. Ray’s Air Force career included assignments at Williams AFB in Arizona, Westover AFB in Massachusetts, Okinawa, Plattsburgh AFB in New York, the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the United Kingdom, the Pentagon, Wurtsmith AFB in Michigan, Minot AFB in North Dakota, the Strategic Air Command at Offutt AFB in Nebraska, the Atlantic Command

consulting firm, in McLean, Virginia. In 2000, he moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, as manager for contracts supporting the United States and Air Force Space Commands. He was on the Board of Directors for the Plangraphics Corporation, a geospatial information systems company, in Lexington, Kentucky. Among numerous volunteer activities, Ray has been a campaign manager for United Way, worked for The Home Front Cares, a disabled veterans support organization, and as a fundraiser for the Catholic Archdiocese. ARNIE SIMONSEN was another of the group to get hitched in June 1962. After graduation, he married his sweetheart, Joy, after which he was commissioned in the USAF as a second lieutenant. He and Joy then headed off to Salt Lake City to start a year of study in meteorology at the University of Utah. After Utah, Arnie got orders to move to Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona, where he was assigned as weather officer to the bomb wing, which flew B-47s back and forth to Alaska. After the B-47s were phased out, Arnie

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“ All of the 1962 Detachment 490 AFROTC class remembers Captain Bob Lucas as their favorite professor and have managed to stay in touch with him periodically over the years.” became the U2 outfit staff meteorologist and chief forecaster. In 1965, his AFROTC commitment was up and Arnie had to decide whether or not to go regular Air Force. To help make his decision, Arnie took a week’s leave to check out the market for engineers and meteorologists. He received two offers: one in San Diego as an engineer for General Dynamics (GD) and one in Chicago as a meteorologist for United Airlines. Even though Arnie and Joy had decided to leave the USAF, they had not yet determined which of the job offers to accept. That decision was made easier when they learned that there was a blizzard in Chicago and San Diego was sunny and warm. Guess what? They chose San Diego. Duh! At GD, Arnie was assigned to a group doing transistor circuit design work for the Apollo Instrumentation Ships timing system. Their sojourn in warm and sunny San Diego was short-lived as his group was moved to Quincy, Massachusetts, because the ships they were working on were being built there and

Mike Vasilik ’62


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their electronics would be installed and tested there. He also got involved with servo drive systems for telemetry and UHF antennas, and to get up to speed on these systems took graduate courses at Northeastern University. This work led him into the Radio Frequency and microwave world, which became his specialty for the rest of his career. When the Apollo ships were finished and GD wanted him to return to San Diego, he and Joy decided to stay in New England, so Arnie began work with Raytheon. He started working on the Basic Hawk Missile antenna design and test. His new job offered a lot of opportunities for Radio Frequency work and enabled him to work on improved Hawk, Patriot, Sparrow and AMRAAM missiles. In 1988, Arnie went to Paris, France, to provide technical assistance to European companies on a co-project between Raytheon and NATO. It was a great assignment as Arnie, Joy and their three children enjoyed trips throughout Europe and Scandinavia. After returning to Massachusetts, Arnie continued work on missile antenna issues before moving back to Tucson in 2000 when Raytheon bought Hughes Missile Systems. In 2006, Arnie retired as senior principal engineer after 38 years with Raytheon. Arnie and Joy try to take advantage of the best weather by splitting their retirement time between their homes in Tucson and

Cape Cod.

MIKE VASILIK served as the 490th detachment Cadet Wing Commander and was commissioned a 2nd Lt upon graduation. He subsequently received a master’s in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1964, a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Arizona State University in 1971 and a Diploma in international relations from the National War College and Defense University in 1980. Mike served as a program manager in the nation’s Space Program, a professor in the National Defense University, and an assistant to the USAF Deputy Secretary in international research and development. He was the U.S. Liaison Officer to world-class technology centers and worked with top engineers and scientists in the NATO countries. After retirement from the USAF, Mike worked at turning around troubled companies serving as president/CEO/ COO for high-tech organizations including RADCOR and ALM in Virginia, Research Triangle Labs and Nutech Instrument Company in North Carolina, AMA in Rhode Island, Meta Trace Labs in Missouri and National Microelectronics Manufacturers Center in Indiana. After a second retirement, he directed a national technology center in the energy and environmental field. His latest efforts have been volunteering in the medical health field as president of the regional affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Mike was recently appointed an alternate medical representative to the National NAMI Council for Service Members, veterans and their families and will chair this council for representatives from all 50 states. He resides in Annapolis, Maryland.

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Left: In 2012, AFROTC Detachment 490 gathered for a 50th-anniversary reunion in Boston.

J. KETH EDMONDSEN ’69 was a four-year member of the NCE varsity soccer team. Being a Jamaican, the weather was a wee bit colder than he was used to, so he sometimes wore gloves during practice and games. In addition to soccer, Keth spent four years in the AFROTC including two years on the Highland Rifles Drill Team spending many weekends in drill competitions. After graduating and commissioning, he went to pilot training at Webb AFB in Big Spring, Texas, and spent four additional years there as a pilot instructor while awaiting an assignment to Vietnam. However, as the war was winding down, Keth was instead assigned to Los Angeles AFB, where he served as a project manager doing Research and Development for the Space Program. His next assignment was to return to the cockpit flying C-141s at McGuire AFB in New Jersey followed by a position as Chief of Safety at Hickam AFB in Hawaii. His final assignment was back to Los Angeles AFB as part of the team that worked on the Inertial Upper Stage Booster which was deployed from the space shuttle taking satellites to their designated orbits. He retired from the USAF in 1989 and was njit . edu

hired by United Airlines, where he flew the B-727, B-737, B-767 as flight engineer, co-pilot and captain, retiring as an A-320 Captain in 2005. Keth and his wife, Yolanda, also a retired USAF officer, live in Frisco, Texas. All of the 1962 Detachment 490 AFROTC class remember Captain Bob Lucas as their favorite professor and have managed to stay in touch with him periodically over the years. Bob wrote that NCE was the most significant assignment in his career and that the AFROTC students were the finest young men he ever taught. He said that he was lucky to keep in touch with some of the students for many years after retiring from the USAF. After a second career of college teaching, Bob retired in 2016 and now lives in rural Oklahoma, where he takes daily walks with his wife, Dot. Bob would love to

hear from his former students and can be contacted at 6084 Sunset Drive, Guymon, OK 73942. In 1962, 35 seniors in Detachment 490 received their commissions and have kept in close contact with each other since then. In 2008, the detachment had a reunion in Colorado Springs, Colorado, hosted by Ray and Carole O’Mara and William Barreire ’62, a 50th-anniversary reunion in 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts, hosted by Dick ’62 and Janet Hendl which included a special tour of the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) where they were “piped aboard” by Navy swabs, and a reunion in Seattle, Washington, in 2016 hosted by Joe and Joan Crecca. There is talk about another reunion in Annapolis, Maryland, where Mike Vasilik lives and is within reach of a number of AFROTC veterans who reside in nearby states. Speaking for myself, I hope the reunion takes place, as I would like to attend to greet these fantastic alumni, some I already know and others for the first time, all who have served our country with distinction. n Left: In 2012, AFROTC Detachment 490 gathered for a 50th-anniversary reunion in Boston. Bottom: Top row, left to right: Arnie Simonsen, Walt Appel, Mike Vasilik, Dennis Beebe, Bob DuBois, Mike Lanni, and Sal Guttilla. Bottom row, left to right: Joe Crecca, Ray O’Mara, John Shroeder, and Frank Sabo.

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ALUMNI WEEKEND 2018 Kevin Carswell ’79

Antonio Crincoli ’86

Karen Ekshian ’12

Jerome Gallagher, Jr. ’80

Patrick Natale ’70 ’75


drew more than 300 alumni back to campus on May 18-20. Hot on the heels of NJIT’s Commencement ceremonies, which took place only days prior, dozens of alumni returned on Friday, May 18 to kick off the weekend festivities. Alumni donors were recognized at the Cornerstone Lunch; many then took a tour of Newark’s finest restaurants, and concluded their evening with cocktails on campus. Saturday morning started cloudy, but the promise of fun proved irresistible. Alumni braved the weather to explore a transformed campus, visiting the new Makerspace, Central King Building (the former Central High), and the new Wellness and Events Center (WEC). They gathered to hear President Bloom’s annual Address to Alumni, and enjoyed the Lunch and Wine Festival on the WEC Concourse. Standing out among the day’s reunions was the Class of 1968, who proudly celebrated their 50th anniversary with a pinning ceremony. Others reunited as well, including the Greeks, and the School of Management, hosted by the EMBA Alumni chapter. All gathered at the annual Alumni Awards Ceremony on the ground floor of

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the WEC. Alumni Achievement Awards were presented to Kevin G. Carswell ’79, vice president of Worldwide Sales at Solid State Cooling Systems; Antonio Crincoli, PE ’86, vice president of Global Engineering at Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Jerome F. Gallagher, Jr. ’80, attorney with Norris McLaughlin Marcus, P.A.; Patrick J. Natale, PE, Dist. M.ASCE, FASAE, CAE ’70, ’75 M.S., vice president at Mott MacDonald; and Karen Ekshian ’12, senior designer at Marvel Architects. The Robert W. Van Houten Award for Teaching Excellence was presented to Andrew Sohn, Ph.D., associate professor in the Ying Wu College of Computing. A special citation on behalf of the Alumni Association was also presented to Tony Howell, executive director of EOP at NJIT. The day concluded with the traditional Alumni Dinner Dance, which also took place in the WEC. This year marked the largest number of attendees in NJIT’s history. Make sure to save the date for Alumni Weekend 2019: May 31-June 1, 2019!


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Andrew Sohn

Tony Howell

Anita Rubino ’83 Awards Committee Chair

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ANNUAL HONORS FOR ENGINEERING EXCELLENCE In March, Newark College of Engineering marked 20 years of honoring the accomplishments of notable alumni, industry partners and high-achieving students at the college’s annual Salute to Engineering Excellence. This year, Alvaro J. Piedrahita, PE ’73 and Dieter Weissenrieder ’76 each received an Outstanding Alumnus Award. Alvaro J. Neil Brandmaier, Piedrahita, PE ’73 chief information officer at CDPHP, received the Newark College of Engineering Spirit Award. Paulus, Sokolowski & Sartor was the recipient of the Outstanding Industry Partnership Award — an award received on behalf of the group by Joseph J. Fleming, PE, PP ’76, a member of the NCE Board of Visitors. For more than 40 years, in a career that has included awards and special recognition for innovative design and successful delivery of major infrastructure projects, ALVARO J. PIEDRAHITA has successfully led technical design professionals on multi-million dollar transportation infrastructure projects for major airports, highways, bridges, transit and rail, and support facilities worldwide. Piedrahita has remained active in the development of large-scale projects, such as the design and construction of the New Northside Runway at Miami International Airport, his technical advisory role on a Florida DOT committee for the $1.2B Port of Miami Tunnel, and his strategic direction to procure the I-395 to MacArthur Causeway Signature Bridge structure over downtown Miami, yet another billion-dollar project. As president and chief executive officer of T.Y. Lin International, Piedrahita leads the firm’s strategic direction and market diversification. His leadership has guided the firm to achieve double-digit growth, remain at the forefront of technology, and njit . edu

continue to rank among the top design firms in the country. Piedrahita received his M.S. in engineering administration from the University of Tennessee and his B.S. in civil-structural engineering from Newark College of Engineering. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Florida. His professional affiliations include the Florida Engineering Society (FES) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). DIETER WEISSENRIEDER ’76 emigrated from Germany in 1960 as a tool and die maker to work for his uncle’s tooling business. He quickly became the manager of the company, and after Dieter working for Weissenrieder ’76 the family business for 10 years, the company was sold to a large firm. He then founded Weiss-Aug in 1972 with his partner, Kurt Augustin, while pursuing his industrial engineering degree at NJIT. Weissenrieder’s vision has led to the growth of Weiss-Aug Company and now The Weiss-Aug Group. PAULUS, SOKOLOWSKI and SARTOR, the Outstanding Industry Partner for 2018, provides total engineering, design, and environmental compliance services to higher education, institutional, corporate, public, real estate developers, pharmaceutical, utility, and industrial clients in the United States and overseas. Established in 1962, the firm is headquartered in Warren, New Jersey, and has regional locations in Cherry Hill, Newark, Wall and Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Lake Success and Yonkers, New York.

Neil Brandmaier, chief information officer at CDPHP and a member of the NCE Board of Visitors since its inception in 1992, received the NCE Spirit Award.

Among the NCE student honorees, Ivan Mitevski, Helen and John C. Hartmann Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was named outstanding senior of the year. Jaasrini Vellore. Biomedical Engineering, received the Madame Mau Outstanding Female Engineering Student award. Other seniors recognized for their exceptional academic achievements were Brianna Bohn, Biomedical Engineering; Victoria Harbour, Otto H. York Department of Chemical, Biological and Pharmaceutical Engineering; Bryan Wild, John A. Reif, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Andrew Bartz, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering; and Mina Moawad, Engineering Technology. Pamela Hitscherich was recognized as the outstanding graduate student and Xueqing Huang ’17 received the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. n

Joseph J. Fleming, PE, PP ’76 of Paulus, Sokolowski and Sartor accepted the Outstanding Industry Partner award on behalf of the company.

Keep the news coming, folks, to mjs@njit.edu.

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The Time of His Life: JONATHAN FERRER ’14


onathan Ferrer sits in a cushy armchair inside the bustling coffee shop on the NJIT campus. The watch designer is in his element, casually scrolling through his phone while sipping a cup of joe amid the harmony of coffee beans grinding and milk gurgling. “I lived on campus when I was a student here, and it’s a good thing I did,” says the Woodbridge native, who graduated in 2014 from NJIT’s School of Art + Design with a B.S. in industrial design. “If you come to NJIT and leave right after class, you’re just getting your feet wet. Class time is great, but being around other students after hours taught me things that I couldn’t learn in a classroom, and it allowed me to really connect with other students.” Ferrer’s idea to meet up at Tech Café to chat about his enterprise is no coincidence. Brew Watch Co. offers a luxe line of contemporary watches that are born out of a love of coffee and draw inspiration from espresso machines. “I wanted a watch that would play into the ritual of something that we do every single day,” he says. “And for me, and many others, it’s coffee.” It took seven months to complete the technical drawings, create the 3D design and prepare Brew’s prototype for manufacturing, and another five months of photography and marketing research to ready the watches for launch. Ferrer says family members — his father works for Tiffany & Co. and his grandfather was a designer for Cartier — influenced his decision to study industrial design and establish a watch brand. “I would see my father working on pieces,” he recalls. “He would give me a piece of blue wax and say, ‘Jonathan, you can carve out a ring or we can go further and actually make this.’ As a child, you don’t realize the significance of it. Little did I know, it was nudging me into this groove indirectly.” Ferrer cut his teeth in the horology 34

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industry, working for premier watchmakers like Movado, designing licensed brand watches and helping smaller firms establish their brand and tighten up their marketing and business plans. When he wasn’t on the clock, Ferrer would use his downtime to sketch, network at biweekly watch events and pick the brains of experienced professionals in the industry to learn the ins and outs of the market. “After a few years, you start to feel a little arrogant,” admits Ferrer. “I was like, ‘Why can’t I do this for myself?’ So I quit my job and started my own business. I had the connections with manufacturers and people all around the world to help me. So I took my idea and ran with it.” Independently designed and crafted in New York City, Brew’s latest timepiece collection, HP-1, is water-resistant, encased in surgical grade stainless steel, boasts a scratchproof sapphire crystal cover and automatic mechanical movement, and comes in black (Darkbrew HP-1 and Atom Blue HP-1), steel (Proto HP-1) and rose gold (Joy HP-1). Translating the design of the espresso machine into a watch was a meticulous process that conjured up an understated design. The nimble cutouts and vented aesthetics found on the caseback are a play on the steam vents found on brewing machines. “It’s minimal enough so that it’s not overbearing, but at the same time you’ll recognize its origin,” he says. “If the design was too literal, I don’t think the watch would be as timeless.” Ferrer recently diversified Brew’s catalogue by adding sunglasses to the product line. “I thought it would be cool to have a product that’s perfectly timed for a season,” he says. He worked with a manufacturer in Japan to craft the shades, which have polarized UV lenses and high-grade acetate frames — and come in custom packaging with a microfiber

carrying pouch. In fact, Ferrer goes to great lengths to use high-end packaging and customization to treat his buyers like VIPs, creating unique value in the products and a lasting impression of the brand. Brew’s debut watch collection was delivered to customers and backers in a hand-stamped, kraft box with a personalized handwritten note from Ferrer tucked inside. He also modifies watch components and colors, and adds personal engravings for buyers who want to make their ticker just a wee bit more exclusive. “It’s all about the little details,” he insists, “and going the extra mile to add a personal touch.” Ferrer’s resolve to stand out from the crowd is something he learned from NJIT Industrial Design Lecturer Jose Alcala. “He taught me that design is about telling a story, and you can’t be afraid of going too far to share it,” he recalls. “If you’re going to build a product, you should also instill a certain experience that people can connect with.” For now, the impassioned entrepreneur — who has returned to his alma mater as an adjunct professor — has his hands full with around-the-clock marketing and branding — and the effort is paying off. To date, Brew Watch Co. has been rubber-stamped by Esquire, GQ and New York Magazine, to name a few. And when he needs to shake off the daily grind, you can find Ferrer at one of his favorite coffee haunts in New York City, savoring the moment, treasuring his time and conceptualizing his next big idea. “Will it stop at just sunglasses and watches? Definitely not,” he declares. “I think the passion to create and design over time is just going to expand…these ideas are going to cultivate so many new things.” n Author: Shydale James is an NJIT Magazine contributing editor. n j i t .e du


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MBA Alumnus Carves Global Career Path in Medical Technology: ROGERIO HENRIQUES ’15


ight years ago, while working as a business development manager for diagnostic testing company CGC Genetics in his native country of Portugal, Rogerio Henriques’ 15 was sent to the U.S. for an assignment that happened to be based in the Enterprise Development Center (EDC) at NJIT. It was then that he began researching MBA programs and learned the advanced management degree at the university’s Martin Tuchman School of Management (MTSM) focused strongly on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. “I knew that NJIT was a perfect match because of its curriculum, designed to educate the new generation of technologysavvy business leaders,” he remembered. “In addition, the fact that it is close to New York City, an important business and financial center, and it’s fully accredited by AACSB [Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business] made me have no doubts about my decision.” Henriques opted to study on campus rather than online to fully immerse himself in the educational experience, which enabled him to collaborate with other engineers and technical professionals, and team with EDCbased companies. He got involved in extracurricular activities as well, serving as president of the Graduate Business Club and co-representing the university at the APICS Business Case Competition. With his MBA in hand, Henriques, who also holds both a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering and a master’s in medical electronics from Universidade do Minho in Portugal, is today the European product manager for Becton Dickinson (BD). His primary responsibility at the njit . edu

global medical technology company lies in driving the strategy of the region’s portfolio of specimen collection devices to achieve optimal financial performance. He is based in BD’s European headquarters in Switzerland. Of his greatest accomplishment at BD to date, he said, “I was able to work on the strategy for a very critical and strategic product line, as well as create new synergies with other relevant stakeholders in different company divisions. This is even more relevant, taking into account the dimension of BD with recent major acquisitions.” PAST PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Possessing a strong background in health care and medical equipment, Henriques is well suited for his current position. He began his career in Portugal at Siemens Healthcare as an application specialist intern for MRI and computer tomography systems. From there he moved on to CGC Genetics, where he later became regional sales manager, and then served as a consultant for GI Supply, a medical device business for which he managed distributors in Latin America and Europe. He also oversaw sales and marketing activities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for nuclear imaging company Spectrum Dynamics Medical, part of Biosensors International Group. And while he pursued his MBA, he worked at S&A Technologies, an EDC-based company, and New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), an NJIT entity. At S&A, he was a project manager for life sciences. At NJII, he helped in the implementation of a federal grant by assisting startups with improving their

strategies and business approaches. “Since I started my career back in Portugal, I have had the opportunity to work in countries such as France, the U.S. and Switzerland. This has helped me to grow professionally and personally,” remarked Henriques, who grew up the youngest of five in the small town of Fafe. “I’ve been able to learn how people do business in other countries, learn about their laws and regulations — especially in the health care field — and meet great professionals that shaped the way I perform today.” Such professionals include those he met at NJIT and MTSM. “I made really good friends and mentors, such as (former Director of Graduate Programs and Executive Education) Elaine Frazier and (Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship) Cesar Bandera, whom I still call when I’m in need of advice.” n Author: Julie Jacobs is a staff writer/ editor in NJIT’s Office of Strategic Communications.

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’62 MARTIN TUCHMAN (Mechanical

Engineering) has been appointed to the board of directors of CircleBlack, an online financial data aggregation and empowerment platform for financial advisers and their clients. Tuchman is the chairman and chief executive officer of The Tuchman Group.



Chemical Engineering) has been appointed to the board of advisors of PetroBLOQ. Bailey is an officer and director of the company is currently the chairman of Bailey Petroleum, LLC, a consulting firm for major oil and gas exploration and development corporations. In addition, he is chief operating officer of Indoklanicsa, Nicaragua, and vice chairman of Trinity Energy Group, Inc. ’77 CHARLES NICLAUS (Civil

Engineering) has joined Barry Isett & Associates Inc.’s PMCS department as a senior project engineer. A licensed P.E. in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Niclaus is also a registered waterworks operator, sewage treatment plant operator and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. ’79 BRION CALLORI (Engineering

Science) has been elected to the board of directors of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Callori is currently senior vice president, engineering and research at FM Global.


’80 JOSEPH BARRY (Civil Engineering)

has been promoted to associate principal at design and engineering firm PS&S. Previously he spent six years with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as senior project controls manager for the $15 billion World Trade 36

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Center Construction Program, which included the Freedom Tower, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the WTC Transportation Hub. ’80 JEROME GALLAGHER (Certificate

in Mechanical Technology) has been appointed to NJIT’s Newark College of Engineering Board of Visitors. Gallagher is a member of law firm Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A. and engages in civil trial and appellate practice, concentrating in the areas of commercial, creditors’ rights, construction lien and contract litigation. ’82 MARCOS CHRISTODOULOU

(Architecture) is capping a career in the corporate world with a pivot to the arts. He has been painting and exhibiting for several years, and recently earned a Master of Fine Arts at the University of California in Santa Barbara. His work (which can be seen at marcos-art.com) tries to make sense of an uneasy world through what he hopes is expressively compelling, often provocative imagery. His conceptual and pictorial sources are classical mythology, Hollywood cinema, art history and images snatched from social media. This new occupation is a shift but also very much a return to his roots at NJIT and Newark, where he graduated in architecture and practiced at the Grad Partnership downtown. He followed that with MBA and MA degrees at the University of Pennsylvania and a business career in high tech in California. ’85 KEN GAYER (Chemical

Engineering) has been appointed chief executive officer of Gelest Inc. Most recently, Gayer served as business president of Honeywell Specialty Products of Honeywell International. ’86 JAMES ANDERSON (Civil

Engineering) has been named to the Rowan College of Burlington County board of trustees as one of its two gubernatorial appointees. Anderson is the director of solid waste compliance and development for Mercer Group

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International, a Trenton recycling company. ’87 JAMES GAZZALE (Construction

Engineering Technology, M.S. in Civil Engineering) was promoted to senior associate in Dewberry’s Bloomfield office. Gazzale is the geotechnical department manager and is a professional engineer in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. ’87 VINCENT REYDA (Electrical

Engineering) has been appointed senior vice president, manager, innovation implementation at FM Global. Reyda most recently served as senior vice president, division manager, EMEA division, based in FM Global’s Windsor, U.K., office. ’89 ERIC BOSCHEN (Civil Engineering)

was promoted to senior associate at Dewberry in Bloomfield. Boschen manages the water resources department. ’89 MICHAEL SCHNOERING

(Architecture) has joined the New Jersey Theatre Alliance board of trustees. Schnoering is a partner with Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC where he manages many of the firm’s theater, educational and government projects. He is a registered architect in 15 states.


’90 ROBERT GRIFFING (Management)

is now serving as chief commercial officer at Napo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He previously held positions at Jaguar Health, Inc. and Merck & Co., Inc. ’90 JAMES HEEREN (Civil Engineering,

M.S. in Environmental Engineering) was promoted to senior associate in Dewberry’s Parsippany office. Heeren is a senior environmental engineer and a professional engineer in Georgia and New Jersey. ’90 VENKATA SIMHADRI (M.S.

in Electrical Engineering) has been n j i t .e du

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appointed chief executive officer and managing director of MosChip Semiconductor Technology. He is the founder, president and chief executive officer of Gigacom Semiconductor LLC and founder/director of Gigacom India. ’91 KETAN PAREKH (Industrial

Engineering, M.S. in Electrical Engineering) has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Wi-LAN Inc., a subsidiary of Quarterhill Inc. ’92 PAUL BRETZGER (M.S. in

Architecture) was the winner of the annual Gettysburg Civil War Roundtable Distinguished Book Award for his book entitled “Hancock at Gettysburg: The General’s Leadership through Eyewitness Accounts.” His career has centered in computer aided design, a subject which he has been teaching in several places of learning. ’92 JOANNE SLAMAN (Architecture)

has been promoted to associate in Dewberry’s Parsippany office. Slaman is the assistant department manager in the telecommunications group.

’93 BENNET DUNKLEY (Architecture)

has joined HLW as principal and will lead the firms’s education sector. Dunkley has nearly 30 years of experience as an architect and is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects as well as the American Institute of Architects. ’93 MARIO IANNELLI (Civil

Engineering, M.S in ’01) has been promoted to senior associate in Dewberry’s Parsippany office. Iannelli is the land development department manager for the site/civil group. ’95 MARCELLA BODNER (Chemical

Engineering) has joined Cole Schotz P.C. as special counsel in the company’s intellectual property department. She applies her patent prosecution and technical expertise to enforcing and njit . edu



2000’s defending patent rights in U.S. federal courts and in post-grant proceedings at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. ’96 SUMIT SHARMA (Mechanical

Engineering) has been appointed chief operating officer at MicroVision, Inc. Sharma joined MicroVision in 2015 and most recently served as the company’s vice president of engineering and operations. ’96 ANTHONY TRIOLO (Ph.D. in

Electrical Engineering) was appointed to National Spectrum Consortium’s executive committee as a representative of the large company sector. Currently Triolo is chief scientist and senior manager at Vencore Labs. ’97 JOHN PELESKO (Ph.D. in

Mathematics) has been named interim dean for the natural sciences of the University of Delaware College of Arts and Sciences. Pelesko, who is also a professor of mathematical sciences, has served as associate dean since January 2016 after being interim associate dean for a year. ’97 SAMIR SAINI (Civil Engineering)

was recently named one of the world’s 100 most influential people in digital government for 2018 by Apolitical. Saini is commissioner of the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.




of CallisonRTKL’s New York office. A licensed architect with more than 15 years in the industry, he specializes in architecture for retail flagships, spearheading the realization of complex, bespoke facades with functional and complementary core and shell elements. ’99 GARY THOMAS (M.S. in

Management) has been promoted to chief operating officer at Tyber Medical, LLC. ’99 KIM VIERHEILIG (Architecture, M.S.

in Management) has joined AECOM’s design and consulting services group as vice president and managing principal in New Jersey. Vierheilig joins AECOM after most recently serving as vice president for LAN Associates, where she managed the architectural, business development and marketing departments.


’00 ROBERT WARD (M.S. in

Management) has been appointed chief executive officer of Eloxx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Ward previously served as the chief executive officer and president at Radius Health, Inc. ’01 MANISH BERI (Computer

Engineering) has been promoted to vice president of operations at New Jersey American Water.

Engineering) now has a dual role as chief information officer and chief security officer of the American Club. He has responsibility for overall strategy in the development and implementation of the organization’s information technology and related capabilities, including systems enhancement and cyber-security.


’01 MARK BOUCOT (M.S. in


Computer and Information Science) has been promoted to executive vice president, director of performance analytics, for MRM//McCann’s North American operations. Desaraju previously held a similar position at MRM//McCann Detroit. ’99 ATILIO LEVERATTO (Architecture)

has been promoted to vice president

Management) assumed a new role as administrator of Potomac Valley Hospital in West Virginia. Boucot is also president and chief executive officer of Garrett Regional Medical Center. ’02 MARK CHMIELEWSKI

(Architecture) has been promoted to associate principal at design and engineering firm PS&S. Chmielewski N J I T M A G A Z I N E | FA L L 2 0 1 8


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joined the firm in 2002 and previously was a senior project manager. ’03 PHILLIP COLLIN (M.S. in

Engineering Management) has been promoted to Northeast division sales officer at HNTB Corporation. Collin joined HNTB in 2008, serving in a series of increasingly responsible roles including most recently as New York office sales manager. ’04 KEITH LUDWIG (Surveying

Engineering) has been elected president of the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), Philadelphia post. Ludwig works as an associate and the northeast survey operations manager in Dewberry’s Mount Laurel, New Jersey, office. He is a member of the National Society of Professional Surveyors and the New Jersey Society of Professional Land Surveyors. ’04 MARY KATE NAATUS (MBA in

Management of Technology) has been named KPMG dean of the School of Business at Saint Peter’s University. Naatus previously served as an associate professor of business administration and business department chair at Saint Peter’s University and was the founding director of the Ignite Institute at the school. ’05 JOE WARAKOMSKI (Management)

has been promoted to chief information officer of FlightSafety International.

’07 CHAD CORONATO (Architecture)

has been named vice president at Perez, APC. ’07 LUIS ESPINA (M.S. in Biomedical

Engineering) has joined the staff of Barnabas Health Medical Group (BHMG), a multispecialty practice affiliated with RWJBarnabas Health, and will be practicing in both Nutley and Belleville, N.J. ’08 ÁINE O’DWYER (M.S. in Civil

Engineering) was named to the 38

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Engineering News Record National Top 20 Under 40 for 2018. O’Dwyer is majority owner in Enovate Engineering, LLC and is a registered professional engineer in New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Delaware and is actively involved with the American Society of Civil Engineers, Professional Women in Construction, New York Building Congress and American Council of Engineering Companies of NY. ’09 IBIKUNLE DARAMOLA (M.S.

in Telecommunications) has been appointed director for public relations and information of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF). A member of 39 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Daramola was commissioned into the NAF as a Regular Combatant officer in September 1991.


’10 BRIAN LEE JR. (M.S. in

Architecture) was named by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of 40 people under 40 making a significant impact on protecting America’s historic places. Lee is founding director of New Orleans–based multidisciplinary nonprofit Colloqate Design. ’10 LISA PETERSON, PE, PLS, CME

(Survey Engineering Technology) has been promoted to associate in Dewberry’s Mount Laurel, New Jersey, office. Peterson, who works as the transportation department manager, has more than 16 years of industry experience. ’10 BALAVIGNESH THIRUMALAINAMBI (M.S. in

Engineering Management, MBA in Business Administration), government affairs and finance director at NJIT’s New Jersey Innovation Institute, was named an NJBIZ 2018 Forty Under 40 Winner. ’10 WILLIAM WARD (M.S. in

Engineering Management) retired from the military with 12 years of cumulative service. Ward was previously with the

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U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command and served with the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam. He was honorably discharged in 1974. ’11 ANDREW BERNOSKY (Chemical

Engineering) has been hired as technical sales manager at KARNAK. Bernosky previously worked at GAF Materials Corporation where he spent the past six years in a technical role. ’11 MELISSA SALSANO (Civil

Engineering) has been promoted to senior associate at Peckar & Abramson. Her primary areas of practice are construction law and complex commercial litigation. Salsano provides legal counsel to a range of clients in the construction industry and advises on an array of projects constructed in New York City and throughout the United States. ’14 MICHAEL KUHLMAN

(Architecture) has joined SOSH Architects as project coordinator and will work in the firm’s Atlantic City office. Kuhlman has prior architectural experience working at various firms in Northern and Central New Jersey and adds his technical skills in graphic modeling, architectural project and project management to the team. ’14 KETTY PAULINO (M.S. in Civil

Engineering) was named “Young Government Civil Engineer of the Year” by the American Society of Engineers Metropolitan Section. The award is bestowed to young civil engineers employed in government service for outstanding contributions to the profession. ’17 ROLAND KEKELIA (M.S. in

Mechanical Engineering) has joined O&G Industries as a project manager with over seven years of construction industry experience working on education and transportation projects.

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IN MEMOR I A M William Harrison ’41 Daniel Smith ’44 Norman Damron ’50 Arnold Katz ’50, ’53 Richard Hirsch ’51 James Shequine ’52 Martin Sheehan ’53 John Abate ’54, ’67 Lawrence Ferrari ’55 David Gullett ’55 Edward Katz ’55 Joseph Berenato Sr. ’56 Thomas Egan ’56 Charles Gruber ’56 Vincent Ingato ’56, ’62 Robert Beck ’57, ’64 Herbert Levin ’57 Jeremiah Murray ’57 Thomas Link ’58 Richard Douglass ’61 Robert Margiotta ’61 Paul Cafone ’64 Gene Girard ’64 John Enea ’69 Matthew Wernock ’70 Edward Herr ’72 Salvatore LoSauro ’74 Walter Helfrecht ’75 Kenneth Hunter Jr. ’75 Robert Young ’75 Janet Ford ’78 Paul Boniface ’88 Duyhane Miller ’17

njit . edu

REMEMBERING HERMAN BLACKMAN ’38, 1917-2018 “My dad was a total engineer,” recalls Herman Blackman’s son, Mike. “We never called a contractor when something didn’t work. Dad was part of the ‘keep it going society.’ He did all the repairs himself.” Mike and his sisters were not surprised to find, next to the boiler in their father’s house, a tray of spare parts and instructions for keeping the unit in good working order. While Herman’s homespun self-reliance might seem a little quaint by today’s standards, his story is not so different from those we hear every day at NJIT. In Herman’s life, as in so many others, an NJIT education offered an accessible route to a successful future. Herman was only ten when he lost his father. It was 1927, two years shy of the stock market crash that launched the Great Depression. Thrust into the role of head of household to his five younger siblings, he did whatever he could to help keep his family afloat. He quickly developed an entrepreneurial spirit, selling flowers on Mother’s Day, poppies on Veterans Day, and pencils on the days in between. Affordability and location were the chief factors in Herman’s choice to enroll in the Newark College of Engineering (NCE). The annual tuition cost of $180, although significant, put higher education within financial reach, and the Newark campus was a short drive from his childhood home in Bergenfield. It was one of the best investments Herman ever made. He began his career in the roofing products industry at the Ruberoid Company, advancing quickly from sales to materials allocation. Soon after, he was drafted by the Army to serve in the infantry division during World War II. His abilities were recognized in this arena as well, and, after six months, Herman transferred to the Navy as an engineering officer aboard ship. He rose

through the ranks to become lieutenant. Herman returned to Ruberoid after the war, met and married his wife Anne, and started a family. Ever the entrepreneur, he left corporate life in 1949 to launch Duncan Hardware in Jersey City. The store remains in operation as a family-owned, neighborhood-focused enterprise. “Dad applied his math and engineering skills to everything he did, from real estate deals to investing. Analytics, reasoning — he always went to the numbers,” Mike notes. “In this way, he built several businesses as well as a very nice life for his family.” Herman never forgot where he got his start. He was one of NJIT’s most devoted Highlanders and could often be seen at university events, especially at commencement time. At the age of 100, Herman returned to campus to march in the 2017 commencement ceremony and to receive a special award as “most senior alumnus.” While he enjoyed being part of the excitement of NJIT’s growth — he often remarked with pride about the size and scope of the university’s programs and enrollment — Herman also saw something of himself in the challenges faced by today’s NJIT students, and in their determination to succeed. His concern for their welfare led him to establish and endow the Blackman Family Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to women living in Hudson County who are interested in becoming chemical engineers. He knew from experience that hard work, a little ingenuity, and an NJIT degree could transform your life. Although, if you asked him, Herman probably would have put it more simply. “My dad wanted to give back to the university, to the students,” Mike tells us. “He always taught us that it is important to give somebody a leg up if you can.”

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ALUMNI MEET UP November 27, 2018 6:30 p.m. Karl Strauss Brewing Company San Diego, Calif. HIGHLANDER CHAT WITH AMIT PANCHAL ’09 MBA November 28, 2018 12 p.m. Online STRYKER ALUMNI NIGHT December 4, 2018 4 p.m. NJIT Campus A CHRISTMAS CAROL IN PRINCETON December 4, 2018 6 p.m. McCarter Theatre Center Princeton, N.J. SJ-PHILLY: ALUMNI HOLIDAY PARTY December 5, 2018 6 p.m. Pyramid Club Philadelphia, Pa. SOCAL ALUMNI: TOUR OF CALIFORNIA SCIENCE CENTER December 8, 2018 10 a.m. California Science Center Los Angeles, Calif. NEW YORK METRO ALUMNI: SKY ROOM HAPPY HOUR January 17, 2019 6 p.m. Sky Bar New York, N.Y. ALUMNI WEEKEND 2019 May 31 - June 1, 2019

Register Online alumni.njit.edu/events


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NJIT researchers and Daiyong Deng (left) and Mengyan Li (right) analyzed the bacterium Mycobacterium dioxanotrophicus PH-06 to discover a critical enzyme that begins the breakdown process of 1,4-dioxane.



hile not featured on most product ingredient labels, the organic chemical stabilizer and manufacturing byproduct, 1,4-dioxane, can be found in countless everyday household items — from shampoos and cosmetics to laundry detergents and antifreeze. Partly due to its widespread use over many decades, the chemical has now been implicated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an “emerging contaminant of concern” at groundwater and drinking water sites across the U.S., with no effective method for its removal yet established. Now, scientists at NJIT have uncovered a rare enzyme in bacteria with the ability to degrade the “likely human carcinogen” and water contaminant, 1,4-dioxane. Researchers say the discovery could help lead to more effective means for treatment of water contaminated by this highly-soluble chemical, known for its resistance to conventional water purification and treatment efforts. The research is featured in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. “Many products we use every day use a mixture of more than 100 chemicals, and we don’t realize that some of them contain traces of 1,4-dioxane that are washed down our drains and released into the environment,” said Dr. Mengyan Li, assistant professor of chemistry and environmental science at NJIT. “A one-

time exposure isn’t extremely toxic, but contamination in drinking water can have a chronic effect that raises cancer risk. “What we are doing is studying microbes that actually consume this contaminant as their food,” Li explained. “We hope this research can attract public attention to the idea that bacteria can be very effective in removing contaminants like 1,4-dioxane from the environment or via engineered venues.” In their study, Li and NJIT research colleagues Daiyong Deng and Fei Li analyzed a key enzyme associated with the unusual metabolic abilities of Mycobacterium dioxanotrophicus PH06 — a microbe capable of feeding on 1,4-dioxane as its primary source of energy. Li’s lab was able to identify and characterize the critical role of one enzyme, propane monooxygenase, which leads the way in decomposing 1,4-dioxane’s stable circular structure so it can be converted to fuel for the bacteria. NJIT researchers Mengyan Li and Daiyong Deng analyzed the bacterium Mycobacterium dioxanotrophicus PH-06 to discover a critical enzyme that begins the breakdown process of 1,4-dioxane. “What makes 1,4-dioxane so stable and hard to decompose is that it has a circular structure,” said Li. “What this bacterial enzyme does is the most difficult task…it begins to disassemble this circular structure and break it apart so that it can be more easily degraded by other enzymes.

“One might think of this enzyme as leading the charge of an army that is sieging a heavily protected fortress,” Li added. “It is on the front lines making the breakthrough so the reinforcements can join in.” According to data on environmental releases from the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, approximately 675,000 pounds of 1,4-dioxane were released to the environment in 2015. Li says some remediation approaches, such as treatment with oxidizing chemicals, can be too costly and are not known to be eco-friendly. Other efforts that apply absorbents to trap water contaminants typically require additional treatment to prevent land disposal problems where the concentrated chemical is released back into the environment. “We think the best way forward is to have the microbes eat the 1,4-dioxane,” said Li. “They naturally eliminate this contaminant by converting it into their biomass and into carbon dioxide. When you tackle large-scale environmental issues like 1,4-dioxane contamination, it is better to have a sustainable solution.” Li’s lab is now seeking to develop new approaches to monitor and accelerate the performance of the newly discovered bacterial enzyme. The team is also exploring ways to scale up application of 1,4-dioxane-consuming bacteria for field use. With more study, Li’s lab soon hopes to demonstrate the feasibility of microbebased 1,4-dioxane remediation efforts outside of the lab. “There are numerous environmental factors that might affect the microbes’ performance if you were to simply inject these cultures into places of contamination directly, so we have to study that further,” said Li. “However, drinking water facilities may be able to use add-on facilities like bioreactors or biologically active filters where water passes through the system, and the bacteria inside consume the 1,4-dioxane so that the discharge is clean water. That could be a treatment we apply, and I believe we are getting there.” n Author: Jesse Jenkins is a staff writer/ editor in NJIT’s Office of Strategic Communications.


New Jersey Institute of Technology University Heights Newark, NJ 07102-1982 njit.edu


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