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"I had to acknowledge that this was the defining chapter in my life and I had to write that chapter," said Muhammad Elgammal P.E., PMP, who was the keynote speaker at University Convocation September 12, 2018. In his address, Elgammal recalled his experience as a first-year civil engineering student and provided three promises to the largest-ever freshman class at NJIT. “The first promise: There will be failure. Failure is only a lesson in growth. The second promise: Nothing worth having is going to come easy. Through patience, you will reap rewards. The third promise: As Highlanders and alumni, we will be here for you."

Elgammal, who graduated from NJIT in 2012 and 2015 with a B.S. in civil engineering and an M.S. in critical infrastructure, respectively, is now employed as a civil engineer and an Agreement Project Manager for the Port Authority of NY & NJ, Civil Design Division. He also is an adjunct professor at the John A. Reif, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and serves as the Chair for the Young Alumni Association, a Member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and a Member of the Board of Trustees Campus Life Committee.

​Before Elgammal spoke, NJIT President Joel S. Bloom shared his thoughts and advice with members of the Class of 2022 on diversity, humility and getting the most from their NJIT experience.

“Be proud of the fact you were admitted,” he said. “We would not have admitted you if we didn't expect to see you at graduation.”

Each year at Convocation, the university honors NJIT faculty and staff members who have excelled as teachers, scholars and researchers.

Edward Dreizin, a distinguished professor of chemical engineering, Dale Gary, distinguished professor of physics in the Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research, and Farzan Nadim, a professor of neurobiology and a founding director of NJIT’s Institute of Brain and Neuroscience Research, are this year’s recipients of the Board of Overseers Excellence in Research Prize and Medal, which recognizes sustained contributions that have enhanced the reputation of NJIT. They will formally receive the prize and medal at the Board of Overseers Excellence in Research Prize and Medal ceremony Oct. 4, 2018, celebrating their careers.  

The Excellence in Research Awards for the 2017-2018 academic year were presented to Cyrill Muratov (College of Science and Liberal Arts); Chase Wu (Ying Wu College of Computing); and Mengchu Zhou (Newark College of Engineering).

The Constance A. Murray Diversity Award was presented to Treena Arinzeh, professor of biomedical engineering. For nearly two decades, while building an international reputation as a cutting-edge researcher, Dr. Arinzeh has consistently taken time to interact with young people as a role model and mentor, encouraging them to enter STEM fields.  

The Excellence in Teaching Awards recognize members of the instructional staff for outstanding accomplishments in teaching. Receiving this award were: David Shirokoff (Mathematical Sciences) for undergraduate instruction, lower division; Elizabeth Petrick (History) for undergraduate instruction, upper division; Cesar Bandera (Martin Tuchman School of Management) for graduate instruction; Maggie Wisniewska (Biology) for instruction by a teaching assistant; Scott Kent (History) for instruction by an adjunct professor; Louis Wells (Humanities) for excellence in innovative teaching; Maria Stanko (Federated Department of Biological Sciences) for upper division undergraduate or graduate instruction by university lecturers, senior university lecturers and/or program directors; Narendra-Neel Khichi (Humanities) for lower division instruction by a university lecturer; and Ashish Borgaonkar (Newark College of Engineering) for outstanding contribution to teaching at NJIT by non-instructional staff.

Stephen Zdepski (College of Architecture and Design) was named a Master Teacher.

Two recent graduates were lauded for their high-level academic achievement and multi-faceted engagement on campus and in national organizations with the Presidential Leadership Award. The award was presented to Sahla Syed ’18, who currently is a first-year Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania where she aims to continue her journey of researching, developing and improving life-saving treatment options. The other recipient, Krupali Zaveri ’18, graduated with her second master’s degree — an MBA — from NJIT in May 2018.

Cesar Bandera (Martin Tuchman School of Management); Wenbo Cai (Mechanical and Industrial Engineering); Martina Decker (College of Architecture and Design); Cristiano Dias (Physics); Casey Diekman (Mathematical Sciences); Xiaoning Ding (Computer Science); Simon Garnier (Biology); Alexei Khalizov (Chemistry and Environmental Science); Jesse LeCavalier (College of Architecture and Design); Alison Lefkovitz (History); and Siva Nadimpalli (Mechanical and Industrial Engineering) were promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure.

Yassine Boubendir (Mathematical Sciences); Yi Chen (Martin Tuchman School of Management); Janice Daniel (Civil and Environmental Engineering); Joerg Kliewer (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Georgeen Theodore (College of Architecture and Design) were promoted to the rank of professor.