Beginning this month, Newark College of Engineering (NCE) will kick off a year-long celebration of its 100th anniversary with a series of awards ceremonies, galas, historical tributes and engineering competitions to commemorate the school’s “Century of Public Service Through Engineering,” while inspiring NCE students to pursue new feats in engineering design and technological wizardry.
There will be inspiration aplenty as the campus learns more over the course of the year about storied alumni such as Beatrice Hicks ’39, designer of a seminal innovation in gas sensor technology used in Apollo’s moon landing missions and the first president of the Society of Women Engineers; Walter Marty “Wally” Schirra Jr., an NCE student in the early ’40s who flew the six-orbit Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, becoming the ninth human to travel into space; and John J. Mooney ’60, co-developer of the first-production three-way catalytic converter.
“We’re a great school with a long history of greatness in engineering, and we continue to make life easier for people and the world a better place,” said Michael Talbot, ’19, a mechanical engineering student from Marlton, who has been busy at New Jersey Institute of Technology’s (NJIT) new 10,000 square-foot Makerspace this semester helping to fabricate some of the awards that will be given out to outstanding NJIT engineers in 100th anniversary ceremonies.
In 1881, the year that Dr. Charles A. Colton welcomed 88 students to pursue courses in “Science, Mathematics and Drawing” tuition-free at the then-named Newark Technical School, the city of Newark was a hotbed of manufacturing innovation. There were nearly 30 companies fabricating products for the new age of electricity in the immediate orbit of Thomas Edison’s laboratory and workshop on Ward Street. In one year alone in the prior decade, more than a hundred patents were issued to people either living or doing business in Newark.
The Makerspace, with its array of state-of-the-art equipment for design, prototyping, testing and research, is one of the hubs of invention on the NJIT campus, where, just as their 19th century counterparts, 21st century innovators are designing and building devices to reshape their world.
On a recent morning, several teams of students were hard at work building drones in preparation for a May 1 competition on the NJIT campus where they will test their skills in remote-controlled and automated flight.
“We want students to get firsthand experience in building modern drones – to learn every step of the process, from mechanical design to electronics,” said Pramod Abichandani, an assistant professor of engineering technology who runs a weekly workshop to guide their progress. “This competition is designed to draw undergraduate and graduate students from across the campus – not just from engineering or computer science.”
Indeed, Shruti Kulkarni, a Ph.D. student conducting research in electrical engineering, and undergraduates Dip Panchal and Piotr Rzymski, mechanical engineering and engineering science majors, respectively, (above) are a case in point. Each brought different skills to the project. Rzymski is building his own “personal aerial vehicle.” Kulkarni is researching brain-inspired neural networks to potentially control devices. Panchal, who knew nothing about drones, brought his eager curiosity about building a device from scratch – from soldering cables to coding flight patterns.
Talbot, meanwhile, is a member of a team building a radio-controlled airplane in the Makerspace to compete next month in the SAE Aero Competition East in Texas. “This is the field I want to get into and I’m really excited about exchanging ideas with the other teams and experiencing design in the real world,” he notes.
Students will also learn this year about engineering’s broad reach into diverse sectors when they meet some of NCE’s living legends who will be on campus next month for their induction into the “NCE 100,” a cadre of eminent alumni who have made groundbreaking contributions in areas as varied as healthcare, the military and the law. These honorees include, among others:
Ellen M Pawlikowski, ’78 who in 2016 was promoted to the rank of four-star general, the third woman in the history of the Air Force to receive a fourth star.
Pierre Ramond ’65, a pioneering particle physicist who made foundational discoveries in supersymmetry and superstring theory and won the 2015 Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics, one of the highest honors for scientific investigators in that field.
Sohail Mohammed ’88, a former electrical engineer who became the first Indian-American judge in the state of New Jersey when he was appointed to the bench of the Superior Court of Passaic County in 2011.
Above all, the anniversary year events, including NCE Day in early April, will serve as a reminder of engineering’s central role in creating the world we know and its potential for shaping the future. As NCE Dean Moshe Kam puts it, “The main adventures in engineering and technology are ahead of us.”
To learn more, visit njit.edu/engineering100; to learn more about the array of degree programs at NJIT, visit engineering.njit.edu.