Summer 2021 Newsletter
A Message from the Chair

Dear Civil and Environmental Engineering Community,

This summer, CEE lost a rising star faculty member and colleague, Dr. Bruno Gonçalves da Silva, after a long illness, at the age of 41. Dr. Gonçalves da Silva joined the CEE faculty in Fall 2015 as assistant professor. During the last six years, Dr. Gonçalves da Silva founded the Geo-Resources Laboratory and advanced research in experimental hydraulic fracturing of rocks; induced seismicity caused by rock damage; multi-scale and modeling of fracturing processes of brittle materials; and thermal-induced damage of rocks and rock-like materials. The passing of Dr. Gonçalves da Silva is a great loss not only to his family, friends, colleagues and students he taught and advised, but also to the geotechnical discipline wherein he was increasingly recognized as a rising leader. He will be dearly missed. I invite you to read more about Dr. Gonçalves da Silva in this newsletter.

This past May, we proudly congratulated 145 CEE undergraduate and 102 CEE graduate students who received their degrees at NJIT's Commencement, held on campus in the Wellness and Event Center. Recent figures from the Career Development Services report show that 82 percent of our undergraduate students and 94 percent of our graduate students were able to secure full-time jobs in the industry following graduation.

As we move forward, we acknowledge that the achievements of the CEE department are powered by its people, the faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends who work together to engineer a better future for us all. Our faculty and staff continue to sustain exciting and significant contributions in the transportation, environmental and infrastructure areas of research, academics and service. Our students continue to utilize the edge in knowledge and learn the skills necessary for their success. 

I am pleased to share with you some of the details of our accomplishments in this summer 2021 issue of the CEE Newsletter. As always, the CEE Department welcomes your support for its programs and initiatives.
Please join me in reading some of our recent highlights below. Stay safe.
Taha F. Marhaba, P.E., F.ASCE
(973) 596-2447
(973) 596-5790 fax
Newsletter Contents
  • In The News
  • Department Research
  • Department Highlights
  • Student Highlights
  • Alumni Highlights
  • Faculty Highlights
  • Recent Publications
  • Recent Grant Awards
  • Our Advisory Board
  • Newsletter Credits
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Opportunities for Students
We collect information on various experiential opportunities for our students such as internships, co-ops and other job postings. Please contact us with any opportunities at, and thank you in advance!
Scholarship Donations
Our Industrial Advisory Board has created an annual scholarship fund to assist CEE undergraduates preparing for professional licensure by reimbursing testing fees to students who pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.

Thank you for your generous support!
In Remembrance - Dr. Bruno Gonçalves Da Silva
Upon joining CEE in Fall 2015 semester as Assistant Professor, Dr. Gonçalves da Silva quickly became an active member of the university community at all levels; he was a very effective teacher and showed commitments to high-quality research, scholarly activities, and service.
Bruno earned his Ph.D. at the Civil and Environmental Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he conducted research in fracture mechanics of rock and rock-like materials. He also earned a Master of Science from MIT, during which he studied the initiation and propagation of fractures in rock-like materials using numerical models, mainly finite and boundary element methods. Previously, he worked for nearly five years in the industry. He was a geotechnical engineer at Arup, New York, for two years, and a structural engineer in Portugal and the United Kingdom for almost three years. He also worked in highway design in Denmark early in his career.

Over the last six years, Dr. Gonçalves da Silva taught undergraduate foundation engineering design, graduate advanced foundations engineering and rock mechanics courses in CEE. He was able to successfully embed student independent thinking and help them develop problem-solving skills through innovative project-based assignments. Dr. Gonçalves da Silva’s students constantly provided very positive feedback on his teaching skills, availability, organization, course content, and class engagement. Besides his applications of computing in the classroom, Dr. Gonçalves da Silva integrated his industrial experiences into the classroom to help students understand concepts and the practical applications of theories. Dr. Gonçalves da Silva contributed to curriculum design by implementing a finite element module in the graduate geotechnical engineering program.
Dr. Gonçalves da Silva’s research areas were experimental hydraulic fracturing of rocks; induced seismicity caused by rock damage; multi-scale and modeling of fracturing processes of brittle materials; and thermal-induced damage of rocks and rock-like materials. Dr. Gonçalves da Silva founded and directed the Geo-Resources Laboratory, where he created a unique design and built a complex test setup to simulate hydraulic fracturing.  He made steady progress towards establishing a strong externally funded research program in the areas of geotechnical engineering, specifically in hydraulic fracturing. Dr. Gonçalves da Silva was awarded a NSF grant in his first year at NJIT. He has been PI on two research grants sponsored by the National Science Foundation and another sponsored by the United States Department of Transportation – University Transportation Center (UTC) Program. Dr. Gonçalves da Silva published in numerous peer-reviewed conference publications and manuscripts in highly regarded journals for his field, including Engineering Fracture Mechanics, International Journal of Fracture, International Journal of Solids and Structures, Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, and American Rock Mechanics Association Symposia. He was the advisor of four Ph.D. students, two of whom have graduated. He has advised numerous undergraduate students on research supported by NSF grants, and a variety of independent study courses and student award projects throughout his six years at NJIT.  Dr. Gonçalves da Silva developed connections with scholars outside of NJIT including Khalifa University, United Arab Emirates and Plymouth University, United Kingdom.
He developed relationships with industry, particularly with Arup, a worldwide civil engineering design company, and with Saudi Aramco, an energy company primarily dedicated to hydrocarbon exploitation. 
The passing of Dr. Gonçalves da Silva is a great loss not only to his family, friends, colleagues and students but also to the discipline wherein he was increasingly recognized as a rising leader. He will be dearly missed.
In the News
Civil Engineering Student Made NJIT Campus in Minecraft ...

New Jersey Institute of Technology has a new campus, but you can only go there by computer because civil engineering major Pawel Sierhej built it entirely in Minecraft. Sierhej, a junior who commutes from Linden, said he was inspired to build the ...

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NJIT Graduates 3,000 Who Excelled Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

New Jersey Institute of Technology formally graduated more than 3,000 students today, in a hybrid in-person and virtual ceremony due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Youstina Saroufim is becoming a civil engineer after transferring to NJIT...

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NJIT and Sustainable Energy Development Firm Ørsted...

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Ørsted, the world leader in offshore wind development, lays the foundation for a partnership that will provide new needs-based support for...

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Student Volunteers Put a Smile on a Vaccination Super Center

Engineering professor Chang Yaramothu '13H, '14, '17, Abigail Varughese '22, Rita Vought '21 and FEMA's Marc K. Raoul '09 Civil Engineering alumn contributes ...

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Officials Break Ground for Warren Street Residence Hall...

NJIT executives officially broke ground yesterday for the new residence hall on Warren Street, scheduled to open in the fall 2022 semester at the site of a former Newark elementary school. Amenities will include private kitchens, bicycle storage, ...

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NJIT Shines Again as a Top 100 University in the QS USA...

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) has been ranked third in New Jersey and in the top 100 nationally in the second annual Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Ranking USA list for 2021. More than 750 institutions across the country...

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Department Research
Three NJIT Engineering Teams Showcase Their Research at...

Three teams of student engineers are showcasing their applied research this week at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Student Design Expo, as they vie for a second round of funding from the EPA's People, Prosperity and the...

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From Experts in Artificial Photosynthesis to Cell...
“The goal is to improve water treatment for communities with few resources,” said Pennock, who is also developing sensors to detect lead in drinking water pipes.
Photocatalytically Reductive Defluorination...

Dr. Wen Zhang’s Environmental Engineering group in NJIT published a video article in the Journal of Hazardous Materials (JHM). They reported the use of Pt-doped lanthanum titanate nanoplate catalysts to achieve the reductive defluorination of...

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Department Highlights
2021 CEE Commencement
Congratulations to the 247 students who received CEE degrees at this year's ceremony. In the video above, please see our CEE graduates reflecting on their student experience, commencement and their exciting futures.

NEW CEE Graduate Certificates!
The certificate provides expertise to analyze, design and construction of infrastructure. Graduates of the program use in-depth knowledge analyze, design and construction of infrastructure to ensure that the infrastructure is designed and implemented with the best practices in mind. This requires the ability to perform sophisticated analysis and design, coupled with the ability to perform forensic analysis. It also requires the ability to develop and maintain tools and technologies to enhance the design and construction of infrastructure.

This program prepares individuals to apply geotechnical engineering principles , which deal with the analysis, design, inspection, and construction of earth and earth supported structures, to the application of environmental problems, such as waste containment, waste disposal, construction of landfills, soil permeation, soil analysis, and soil improvement. Includes instruction in soil mechanics, soil dynamics, soil behavior, waste management and containment systems, geosynthetics, geochemistry, earth structures, geo-environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, earthquake engineering, foundation engineering and tunneling.
2020 Student Engagement and Graduate Outcomes Report
We are pleased to share the 2020 Student Engagement and Graduate Outcomes Report for students in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The report is compiled in a graphical format by Career Development Services (CDS). The data is collected by CDS in collaboration with the Office of Institutional Effectiveness as part of our annual First-Destination Survey for our entire graduating class.  

In all, our data indicated that 88% of all NJIT graduates were employed full-time, or pursuing further education within six months of degree completion. 

In addition to CEE graduates’ first destination data in this report, you will find information about the various CDS services and employer engagement opportunities utilized by CEE students. This includes top employers, factors leading to job attainment, employer events, employment opportunities, co-op and internship participation, career advising appointments, and CDS Client Relationships Management data.

FE Exam Review Course Summary
The department provides a Fundamentals of Engineering Examination course for free to current BSCE juniors and seniors, as well as BSCE alumni who are within one year of their graduation date. For the 2020-2021 academic year, 78 students signed up for the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination course to prepare them for the exam.

This service is currently provided in contract with the School of PE. The goal for the upcoming year is to provide more of our students with an opportunity to be well prepared for passing the FE exam. The department will increase awareness and provide different resources such as student seminars and group study sessions.
Student Highlights
Abha Walter (left), Judy Liao (middle), Shianne Melo (right)
Women-led Team Wins 1st Place in
ASCE 2021 Construction Competition!
Congratulations to the New Jersey Institute of Technology American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) contractors team, SAJ Contractors, for placing first in the Construction Institute Student Conference Competition.

NJIT's team consisted of three undergraduate students who acted as contractors handing a bid for the KEW Gardens Interchange Structure 10 Project, a bridge at a complex intersection of highways to be constructed this summer. The project is located in Kew Gardens, Queens and the judges were New York State Department of Transportation employees who were familiar with the project.

The judges gave the team the bridge's superstructure and substructure foundation plans. With that information, they had to create a comprehensive construction schedule and construction estimate, while also filling out a risk-management plan. On the day of the competition, they gave a 10-minute presentation of their bid to the judges with a small question and answer section given at the end.

Liao said, "It feels great to win this competition, especially being a woman in STEM. I always wanted to be more involved in these types of competitions, but it always felt intimidating being one of the few women interested. Therefore, being a part of this team and winning this competition showed me that I should not be afraid to raise my voice and take on leadership roles in a male-dominated field."

According to NJIT's Murray Center for Women in Technology, women at NJIT have come a long way since Edythe R. Raabe became the institute’s first woman graduate in 1930. Today, a quarter of all NJIT students are women, majoring not only in engineering, but also in architecture, computer science, biology, management and communication among other exciting career areas.

Walter added, "I'm really happy that we won this competition! Being a woman in STEM, and especially a queer woman in STEM, has been very challenging, so winning this competition has made me really proud of myself and the girls that I worked with."

The Construction Institute Student Conference Competition provides a construction engineering experience for civil engineering students through a challenging project. However, SAJ Contractors was able to make a big impact by demonstrating that women, increasingly, are leaders in the civil engineering industry.

Melo said, "This competition is a great example to break the under-representation of women in the field of engineering. The stigma that engineering is a male profession due to the concentration of male engineers, does not intimidate me from being a woman in the field I chose."

Watch their winning presentation - here.
Congratulations to Joseph Almeida and Tyler Slivinski,
Recipients of Moles Scholarships!
The Moles Charitable Fund provides a one-time amount of $6,250.00 scholarship to academically qualified and deserving students at the colleges and universities participating in The Moles Education program. Junior-year Civil Engineering students are encouraged to apply for The Moles Charitable Fund scholarship in January of their junior year.
Joseph Almeida is currently a rising senior. This past year, he took Professor Ciancia's geotechnical engineering class and found an interest in the field. He is an intern at Dynamic Engineering, consultants on a wide variety of engineering projects, and works very closely with geotechnical engineers. Taking the class and working alongside these engineers has solidified his interest in the field and the work they perform. He hopes to give back to the industry from this opportunity. Almeida says, "Thank you, Professor Ciancia, and all other faculty involved in aiding me through the process."
Tyler Slivinski is a junior who will graduate in the fall of 2022. Slivinski is a transfer student from Union County College, where he was a tutor for twenty-five math and engineering courses. Slivinski is currently interning with Keller Group, a geotechnical engineering firm that specializes in industrial, commercial and housing projects, as well as infrastructure for dams, tunnels, transportation and water treatment, and projects to address environmental challenges.
He secured a part-time position with the firm while he pursues his bachelor's degree.
Fangzhou Liu, Winner of
the 2021 John J. LaGrosa Award!
Fangzhou Liu, a Ph.D. candidate in environmental engineering, recently received the 2021 John J. LaGrosa Award from the New Jersey Water Environment Association. The award supports and encourages highly capable individuals to continue studies in environmental science or engineering with a strong component in one or more areas of water quality control and environmental protection. The award includes a NJWEA certificate, a one-year free student membership in the NJWEA and the Water Environment Federation, and a check for $1,500.

Lui's research focuses on microwave-enhanced membranes for contaminants degradation and virus disinfection, with support from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S Bureau of Reclamation. Lui passed his Ph.D. qualifying exam and research proposal defense in early January, and has published two first-authored and one co-authored journal article in high-impact journals, including Environment International and the Journal of Hazardous Materials. He also received a "Modern-day Technology Leader" award at the 2021 BEYA STEM Global Competitiveness Conference and won the Licensed Site Remediation Professionals Association poster competition in February. Now, he is working on the synthesis of novel microwave-responsive catalysts and virus inactivation.

Congratulations to Dr. Fangzhou Liu!
Q&A with Molly! Internship Highlight
Molly Saylor is a rising junior and the recipient of the Eric G. Borowsky ’63 Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship provides financial assistance to an undergraduate student-athlete studying engineering.

During Molly's scholarship interview she expressed her passion for soccer and construction. She stated that "through networking and applying to multiple internships" she obtained an internship working in the Empire State Building in Manhattan!

Watch the scholarship interview - here.

Below are insights into her professional journey:
What was it like to search for a summer internship during the semester?
I applied early and to a wide variety of companies and positions. I knew I wanted to stay in the NYC/NJ/Philadelphia region, so I catered my search for internships in these areas. I used resources like and LinkedIn, but the most fruitful method I found was googling “civil/structural engineering firms in the xxx city” and checking their sites for open or upcoming applications! It was an exciting feeling to keep track of all of the different opportunities I applied for, whether I heard back from them or not.

Did you use any NJIT resources?
My professors were quite helpful in providing insight as to what positions may prove most beneficial for my current career pursuits. All of the professors in the CEE department have had experience in the field and are very generous with their knowledge and time when it comes to career and life advice. I have had several professors encourage us, students, to reach out if ever we have trouble finding a position, and they will help extend our resumes to find opportunities.

How was the transition to NYC? Did the employer assist with this transition? 
The transition to working in NYC was better than I could have ever asked for. In the past, summers for me included residential drafting work, construction jobs here and there, and cutting a whole lot of grass. So, needless to say, my first week working on the 57th floor of the Empire State Building was like a dream. My employer was beneficial and effortlessly kind throughout the onboarding process. It is nice to be reminded that even those now in high-up positions were once interns themselves and thus are typically more than happy to show newcomers around, maybe even buy lunch.
How would you describe your job?
I work as a bridge inspection intern at HNTB Corporation, a transportation infrastructure solutions firm. I spend the majority of time on-site climbing around the spans, and annotating framing plans and databases, amidst other tasks. Currently, my team is working on a large arch bridge inspection contract in Manhattan, and the experience has been invaluable to furthering my understanding of structural engineering.

Are you using any skills learned at NJIT?
Having been held to a high standard by my professors for the clean presentation of truss analysis, shear/moment diagrams, and all else required by the structural analysis line of the curriculum, my abilities with freehand sketching and spatial awareness/orientation have proven particularly beneficial in this line of work.

What's your favorite thing to do in the city after your internship?
On days that I don’t have to be back in NJ to train for soccer, after work, I like to find a different country’s restaurant/bodega/truck on whichever city block, walk to a park and read a book or write about the day. Just today, I got empanadas from a Peruvian spot and sat at a picnic table in a park in the Bronx for a while writing in my journal.

Are you still active on the NJIT soccer team? If so, how have you balanced sports, academics and career?
Yes, I am still a goalkeeper for NJIT's women's soccer team! Fortunately, early mornings and sore legs are a staple of being an athlete at the division one level. So, while not every week is perfect, finding balance amidst a full-time job and training for a great upcoming season is a challenge I am used to as a rising senior. I am blessed to love what I do and be supported by so many great people in my life; from this, my motivation to grow, learn and impact stems.
Alumni Highlights
Highlander Chat: NJIT's Campus Transformation
Highlander Chat with Andrew Christ, PE '94 '01, SVP for New Jersey Institute of Technology Real Estate Development and Capital Operations! 

Do you have Alumni Highlights we can feature here?
Contact us at with your content and we'll include it in the next issue!
Faculty Highlights
Dr. Matthew Bandelt Receives 2021 NCE Excellence in Teaching Award

The Excellence in Teaching Award Recognizes an NCE full-time member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching as recognized by faculty, students and alumni, and has served as a full-time member for at least three years.

Professor Bandelt says "I'm honored to be recognized for my teaching accomplishments at NJIT! It's a pleasure to educate our diverse student body, and the last year has helped me try new pedagogical techniques to help our students learn in a challenging environment."

Bandelt is an expert in the behavior and modeling of novel infrastructure materials for improved lifecycle performance, sustainability and resiliency. Bandelt joined the John A. Reif, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2015. He received his PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Stanford University earlier that year with a concentration in structural engineering, He is a licensed professional engineer (PE) in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Bandelt says "I enjoy helping our students understand the complex engineering concepts that we teach in class in a manner that goes beyond formulas and numbers. In the classroom, this involves critical thinking about more than "how" they solve a problem or design a system, and instead focus on "why" they solve it in a particular way and "what" the implications of their analysis and design mean. Outside of the classroom, I love advising students on research projects, working with collaborators, and mentoring our undergraduate student groups."

Bandelt encourages students to get involved in engineering clubs, social organizations, internships and research. He believes the more opportunities that students can expose themselves to, the better prepared they are for the challenges and opportunities they'll face after college.

Learn more about Professor Matthew Bandelt - Here
Dr. Lucia Rodriguez Freire Invited to attend the 2021 EU-US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium!

The Symposium is organized by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the European Council of Applied Sciences, Technologies and Engineering. 

US Frontiers of Engineering is an annual three-day meeting that brings together 100 of the nation's outstanding young engineers (ages 30-45) from industry, academia and government to discuss pioneering technical and leading-edge research in various engineering fields and industry sectors.

The program provides an opportunity for top-notch engineers, early in their careers, to learn about cutting-edge developments in fields other than their own, thereby facilitating collaborative work and the transfer of new approaches and techniques across fields. Through both formal sessions and informal discussions, the meetings have proven an effective mechanism for the establishment of cross-disciplinary and cross-sector contacts among this country's future engineering leaders.

Some of the discussion topics for this year include; "Transforming the climate change discussion: The role of direct air capture" and "Resilience in pandemics: data and digital infrastructure for informed decision making."

Rodriguez Freire says "It is a great opportunity and honor."

Learn more about Professor Lucia Rodriguez Freire - Here
Congratulations Distinguished Professor Boufadel!
Michel Boufadel of the CEE Department (with a secondary appointment in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering was promoted to Distinguished Professor. Boufadel is the Director of NJIT's Center for Natural Resources; his professional expertise is in environmental engineering, energy, oil spills, and coastal systems. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Boufadel's most quoted paper is Long-term persistence of oil from the Exxon Valdez spill in two-layer beaches, co-authored with Hailong Li (2010, Nature Geoscience). A recent study of note is the National Science Foundation-funded Scaling, causality, and modulation of the spread of COVID19.

Learn more about Professor Michel Boufadel - Here
The Role of Sustainable Concrete in Infrastructure
Steve Adubato speaks with Matthew P. Adams, FACI, a CEE assistant professor, and Nathan Public Policy Fellow, at the Rockefeller Institute For Government, about the difference between concrete and sustainable concrete.

2021 Service Award Honorees
Recent Publications
Development of a dispersibility assessment kit for use on oil spill response vessels

Corrigendum to “Formation of oil-particle aggregates: Particle penetration and impact of particle properties and particle-to-oil concentration ratios”

Effect of the Triaxial State of Stress in the Hydraulic Fracturing Processes of Granite: Part 1—Visual Observations and Interpretation

Gayani Gunarathna and Bruno Goncalves Da Silva

Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

FracProp: Stochastic Fracture Propagation Model

Mohammad Abdulla, Rita Sousa, Ignazio Arzuaga, Omar AlDajani, Bruno Goncalves Da Silva, Herbert Einstein

Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

Recent Grant Awards
Project Information Management System (PIMS) Data Collection Tool Upgrades

PI: Steven Chien

U.S. Department of Transportation through NY State Department of Transportation
Reactive Nanobubbles for HAB & Cyanotoxin Removal

PI: Wen Zhang

JFK- Low Carbon Concrete Pilot Program - Task A, B & C

PI: Matthew Adams

The Port Authority of NY & NJ
Our Advisory Board

The CEE Industrial Advisory Board represents a diverse cross section of civil and environmental engineering professionals including design consultants, construction managers, contractors, and attorneys.
Rocco Palmieri, P.E, P.P., PLS '72, '77, (Chair)
Partner Engineering and Science

Ted Cassera, P.E., '72
Bowman Consulting

Anthony Castillo, P.E., '95 '02
SESI Consulting Engineers  

Jerome F. Gallagher, Jr., Esq. '80
Norris McLaughlin PA

David Good, P.E., '78, '92 
Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers

Andre Grebenstein, LEED AP '95
The Martin Group

Tony DeJohn, P.E., P.P.
WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff
Gareth Middleton, P.E., '93 '04
Tishman Construction, an AECOM Company

Ed Peralta, P.E.,P.P., AICP, PMP, PTP, PTOE
04, '06, PANYNJ

Maurice Rached, P.E. 
Maser Consulting 

Joseph Stanley, P.E., P.P., '78, '85
Mott MacDonald

Ken Sisk, P.E., '95
Pizzarotti IBC
Wei Wang, P.E., '95 
Urban Tech

Aine O'Dwyer, PE. '07,'08
Enovate Engineering
Newsletter Credits
Editors & Contributors
Tracey Regan
Taha Marhaba
Valerie Batista
Sylvana Brito
Special Thanks
NJIT Office of Strategic Communications
NJIT Office of Alumni Relations
Contributing Faculty, Staff, Students, & Alumni