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On Friday, February 15, six teams of exemplary students from NJIT’s Newark College of Engineering (NCE) put their outstanding engineering design research on display at this year’s “NCE First-Year Showcase” competition. 

The competition’s student-teams — representing each of the college’s departments — were selected to present their research based on standout first-year academic performances and projects that they conceived of during their Fundamentals of Engineering Design 101 (FED 101) courses, taken this past Fall 2018 semester. 

At the event, before an audience of faculty, students and a panel of six judges in NJIT’s Campus Center Ballroom A, teams conveyed their work from across the engineering disciplines — ranging from the design of efficient traffic lights, to strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to structural assessments of Weston Hall’s pedestrian bridge on campus.

"The NCE First-Year Showcase represents the merits of NCE education as practiced since our foundation 100 years ago,” said Moshe Kam, Dean of NJIT’s Newark College of Engineering. “As such, the showcase is also an appropriate first event in the series of programs and celebrations that NJIT will offer throughout NCE’s centennial year. True to NCE’s traditions and practices, the showcase combines technological expertise, practical approaches to technical challenges and close attention to the needs of the communities that engineers serve."

In the end, the competition’s judges awarded chemical engineering students Kristen Abraham, Marcos Molina and Jinay Shah the “Judge’s Choice” honor for presenting their recent research, which involved engineering a process to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In their presentation, the team showed they were able to design and construct a scale-down model of a gas piping system that could help buildings reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through the process of CO2 scrubbing — whereby liquid solvents bind with CO2 to isolate it from the other gases and form a new, less harmful compound that can be released into the environment.

(From left to right) NCE First-Year Showcase Judge’s Choice winners Jinay Shah, Kristen Abraham and Marcos Molina.

“Climate change is a concern and is an issue that we addressed in our project,” said Kristen Abraham, a student of NJIT's Albert Dorman Honors College. “Our effort encapsulates both the purpose of chemical engineering and what NJIT freshman can be capable of — to engineer an improved quality of life by designing more sustainable processes and products.”

“Being able to win this award makes us feel good about all the work we put into the class,” said Jinay Shah, also a member of the honors college. “There was a lot of effort involved in what we did, so to win this event helps validate all of it.” 

“Our presentation was very technical, and I think the judges responded to some of the concepts we were presenting,” added Marcos Molina. “At the same time, I also liked that there were many freshmen students taking part in the audience…hopefully our presentation and others have showed them that there are a lot of the possibilities in engineering.” 

“It was challenging to make our choices…this was such an impressive group of students,” said Lisa Axe, chair of the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering who participated as a member of the event’s panel of judges. “For me, it was rewarding to see how our first-year students are getting so engaged in engineering. They are thinking about the concepts they’ve learned as well as the big-picture impact of their solution to meet the needs of society, each in their own way.” 

Audience attendees were also able to cast votes to issue the competition’s “Audience Choice” honor, which was awarded to civil engineering students Joseph Almeida, John Mongrella, Jonathon Sanders and George Pepingco for their structural integrity study of NJIT’s Weston Hall pedestrian bridge. The group used forensic engineering techniques, such as non-destructive hammer sounding tests, to detect potential deterioration in the bridge’s concrete. The team also made recommendations for reconstruction of the structure’s concrete deck.  

NCE Dean Moshe Kam presents the event’s Audience Choice award to John Mongrella (left), Jonathon Sanders, George Pepingco and Joseph Almeida.

“By winning the Audience Choice award, it shows that the audience has an interest in campus development and in improving the environment that they see every day,” said Pepingco. “I think our presentation really conveyed to them some ways to do that.”

“We appealed to the audience today, which is important,” added Sanders. “Civil engineers are often consulting face-to-face with clients, so being able to communicate and be personable in front of the audience was good practice.”

"This showcase was designed to give students the opportunity to present their work to a wider academic community and learn from the feedback received, beyond that of their classmates and instructors," said Ashish Borgaonkar, assistant professor of engineering education, and the event's lead organizer. "Personally, it was gratifying to see our students succeed and have their achievements recognized through this platform."