News Article | May 10, 2017
When Lisa O'Bryan was planning her postdoc project in 2014–15, she knew that she couldn't buy field instruments off the shelf. O'Bryan, a behavioural ecologist now at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark, wanted to tag social mammals with audio recorders to investigate how their communication patterns affect the group's activities. But she couldn't find a wildlife collar with an audio feature, or the right stand-alone recorder to add to an existing collar. So O'Bryan partnered with researchers at Swansea University, UK, who had already developed collars equipped with global positioning system (GPS) receivers and accelerometers — instruments that measure acceleration and enable scientists to identify resting, foraging and other behaviours. During a visit to Swansea, she learnt how to connect an Arduino microcontroller — a small, programmable device — to a microphone and recorder. Abid Haque, an engineering undergraduate student from India who was visiting the NJIT, customized open-source software from Arduino libraries to fit her needs. The team 3D-printed plastic casing for the components, and a specialist in equestrian equipment attached the casing to leather collars. After testing them on domesticated goats, O'Bryan put the collars on baboons in Namibia last year. The field season went smoothly, and her team is analysing the data. The project made her feel more confident about fixing technical issues. “It's made me more versatile,” she says. O'Bryan is one of many biologists who have developed niche field instruments for their research (see 'A beginner's guide'). By going beyond commercially available options, researchers can gather new data, gain technical skills and sometimes even sell their products. But such projects are time-consuming and involve tricky engineering issues. Although some biologists develop their own lab instruments (see Nature 544, 125–126; 2017), field devices bring different challenges because often, they must last a long time in the wild. In the worst-case scenario, an instrument failure can compromise an entire season of fieldwork. To succeed, biologists can partner with engineers, use open-source electronics tools such as the Arduino platform, or work with companies to customize products. And the payoff can be satisfying. “The scientific rewards have been tremendous,” says Randall Davis, a marine biologist at Texas A&M University in Galveston, who co-developed oceanographic data recorders with an engineer. Biologists can recruit engineers from their own universities or they can contact groups that specialize in field-research devices. In 2016, Frants Jensen, an ecologist now at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies at Aarhus University in Denmark, and his colleagues wanted to develop custom wildlife collars to track communication and coordination in groups of hyenas. Jensen had previously studied marine animals using devices co-developed by Mark Johnson, an electronics engineer at the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews, UK; Johnson agreed to help Jensen again. Johnson's expertise was crucial. He noted, for instance, that when the radio transmitter came on, its power usage might reduce the battery voltage, which could potentially cause the device to lose track of time and fail to record data on schedule. So he programmed a microcontroller to save a timestamp every few seconds and note whether the recorder was on or off. He also minimized battery weight and positioned components to avoid chafing the hyenas. Other biologists forge ahead without the expertise of an engineer. In 2014, Anna Prinz, a wildlife biologist who was then conducting research for a master's degree at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, worked with Vikas Taank, a fellow biology graduate student with programming experience, to create a woodpecker-nest monitoring system1. The team used a mini-computer called a Raspberry Pi, and found that other users had written software to perform functions such as streaming video. That was ideal, because she “didn't want to build it from the ground up”, says Prinz, now at the non-profit Sandhills Ecological Institute in Southern Pines, North Carolina. She watched online tutorials to learn how to build a circuit that could power infrared light-emitting diodes to illuminate the nest. They used the devices to record the breeding behaviour of acorn woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus) for three months in California. Researchers can scavenge for components and customization advice online. Jolyon Troscianko, a behavioural ecologist at the University of Exeter, UK, advises checking eBay.com and Amazon.com for parts. When his team was developing miniature videologgers to attach to New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides), the researchers found small cameras online. If parts need to be modified, websites such as RCGroups.com offer tips from hobbyists. Biologists can also ask a company to tailor an existing product — but the firm must be willing to help even if the customer is not placing a large order. “You're never going to be a huge profit centre for them,” says Kelly Benoit-Bird, an ocean ecologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California. She worked with a company to add sonar devices called echo sounders to an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Depending on project scope and component prices, some changes might not incur an extra charge, whereas others could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Working out how much data a device should collect can be tricky. Although it's tempting to amass as much as possible, recording at higher resolution and for longer durations may require a bigger instrument. But Jensen's team is deliberately collecting more data from some sensors than it might need. This will enable the group to determine the optimal resolution needed to obtain valuable information, he says. Typically, researchers need light, strong materials. Troscianko's team encased the crow cameras in thin films of a plastic called Polymorph; light packaging allowed the scientists to use a heavy, long-lasting battery. And an instrument must be rugged enough to withstand animals swimming, fighting or bashing against it. Prinz installed a Plexiglass sheet in front of her nest camera to protect it from the woodpeckers, and Jensen's team waterproofed the hyena collars' microphone and instrument casing. Before launch, the devices must pass several tests. Researchers can expose instruments to harsh conditions, such as extreme temperatures, in the lab. Developers often try out devices on captive animals; Johnson's team tests marine-animal tags on dolphins and porpoises at aquariums. Trainers observe whether the instrument seems bothersome, and scientists ensure that the tag does not leave an abrasion. Biologists should expect mishaps in the field. “There's 100 different ways that an instrument can malfunction when it's out at sea,” says Davis. His team once deployed data recorders on southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) in Argentina and a battery connector short-circuited after about six weeks. Another year, a manufacturer — unbeknown to the team — had changed a video chip and the devices did not record any video. To reduce risk, researchers can perform a pilot study and pair new instruments with established methods. When Benoit-Bird's team deployed its echo-sounder-equipped AUV to study marine animals, the researchers also gathered data from echo sounders installed on their ship. Although the onboard devices could not detect animals as deep down as the AUV could, they guaranteed at least some data. Persuading funders to support development can be tough. Johnson recommends that scientists describe intermediate steps that could provide useful information, even if the device doesn't work perfectly. Before applying for competitive grants, teams might need to build a prototype to gather preliminary data. Davis's team, for instance, used a US$25,000 in-house university grant to create an early version of its recorder before getting funding from the US National Science Foundation (NSF). Project expenses vary widely. Prinz's nest-monitoring system ranged in cost from about $180 to $500, depending on the power source. O'Bryan's baboon collar costs about $1,100 to make, and her team is working on a cheaper version. But in harsh environments, costs increase dramatically. If a device must operate in the ocean, “your budget automatically has to have another zero, minimum”, says Benoit-Bird, whose AUV project cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Davis says that his team's prototypes originally cost $18,000–20,000 to make, including research and development, and now can be produced for $5,000–10,000; over about three decades, expenses have totalled less than $1 million, he estimates. If the devices succeed, scientists can explore commercialization. The first step is usually to contact their university's technology-transfer office to verify correct procedures for patenting and licensing. Government programmes can help: as part of the NSF Innovation Corps Sites Program at the NJIT, O'Bryan gauged potential customers' interest in her team's audio-recording collars. But often, the market is small. Davis says that he has had trouble persuading a firm to mass-produce his team's oceanographic recorders, because they would probably sell, at most, 500 per year initially. Still, some researchers have achieved commercial success even with a modest number of customers. In the early 2000s, David Mann, a marine biologist then at the University of South Florida in Tampa, began selling underwater acoustic recorders, which his team had devised, to colleagues, and he started Loggerhead Instruments in Sarasota, Florida. He left academia in 2013, and his company currently sells about 100 devices per year for about $3,000–10,000 each. When pricing products, scientists should consider the instrument's uniqueness. They should also assess the relative value provided by the device. For instance, Loggerhead's recorders can be deployed underwater for up to a year. Gathering the same data manually by sending a researcher on a boat could cost much more than the recorder, Mann says. If scientists enjoy field-device work but do not want to run a business, they can join an existing company; there, engineers do most of the development, and biologists can work with customers and advise the firm. Kenady Wilson, a wildlife biologist, took a job at Wildlife Computers in Redmond, Washington, which designs and manufactures instruments for marine-animal research. She is analysing data from the devices and will help to determine which algorithms the company's software should include. Biologists can also find positions in groups such as Xylem Analytics in Charlotte, North Carolina, a division of the water-technology company Xylem. The jobs are well suited to people who have experience with similar instruments and want to address global water challenges, says Rob Ellison, the group's vice-president of strategy and technology in Boston, Massachusetts. But even a solely academic project can offer big rewards. Troscianko's crow cams caught the birds making hook-shaped tools2, and Davis's recorders have revealed seal behaviour ranging from fish-hunting tactics to energy-saving gliding3. Measuring something new, says Johnson, brings “phenomenal satisfaction”.
News Article | May 16, 2017
Architecture and engineering firms in New York and New Jersey posted total revenue of $4.5 billion in 2016, based on reports in this year’s ENR New York Top Design Firm ranking. The total for the top 75 firms (the number of firms that participated last year) was $4.37 billion, up 21.4% from the year-ago period. This year an additional 10 firms joined the list. New York City megaprojects such as the $3.1-billion One Vanderbilt high-rise in Manhattan and the $4-billion LaGuardia Airport redevelopment in Queens were key growth catalysts. The top 10 firms on this year’s list reported total revenue of $2 billion, up 3% from the year-ago period. AECOM again leads the design firm group, with its $512 million in regional revenue up nearly 18% from $434 million reported for 2015. WSP—which now has adopted the new brand nearly three years after its purchase of Parsons Brinckerhoff—continues to hold the No. 2 spot, but its $317 million in 2016 revenue dropped 10.5% from 2015. Arcadis North America held its third place ranking, but its regional revenue totaled $191 million, down about 5% from 2015. In New York City, 2016 marks the third consecutive year of increased value of building permits issued by its Dept. of Buildings, according to the New York Building Congress. The agency approved 5,641 construction permits worth about $93 billion. The total marks a 2.2% increase over last year’s figure of $9.1 billion, with a total of 4,927 permits issued by the department. “Interior construction work is the unsung hero of the current building boom,” says Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO of the Building Congress. “While all eyes are understandably focused on the brand new office and residential towers,” a lot of construction work is occurring “largely under the radar” in the five boroughs. In New Jersey, projects such as the $100-million NJIT Wellness and Events Center in Newark and the $90-million Bergen County Justice Center renovation in Hackensack propelled project revenue for firms working there. Greenman-Pedersen Inc., ENR New York’s Design Firm of the Year last year, ranks fourth on the list for the second year—with its revenue of nearly $172 million for 2016 up 8.2% from the previous year. Ralph Csogi, firm CEO and president, credits large transportation projects for the boost. “GPI recently completed conceptual through final design services for the rehabilitation of a 1,100-foot-long complex viaduct and associated ramp structures located along Route 495” near North Bergen in Hudson County, N.J., says Csogi. The Route 495 Viaduct, on which an estimated 160,000 vehicles per day reach the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan, has been classified by New Jersey’s transportation agency as “one of the top 10 most critical structures in the state”, says Csogi, due to its location, importance and structural complexity. The structure has been previously modified six times, which further complicates the rehabilitation design and construction. The bridge connects the New Jersey Turnpike at Interchange 16E/18E with Routes 3 and 1&9, west of the New Jersey “helix” approach to the tunnel. Among other projects in the education design sector, DMR Architects, which reported $11.6 million in revenue in 2016, is working on the new High Tech High School in Secaucus, N.J., that is part of the Hudson County Schools of Technology system. When complete, the 340,000-sq-ft facility will accommodate 1,500 students and replace the current facility located in North Bergen. “Building this school is like putting together a giant puzzle,” says Lloyd Rosenberg, president and CEO of DMR. “This is going to be the most high-tech high school in the country, with offerings that even some four-year higher learning institutions don’t have. Education processes are evolving, so the facilities that house them need to be equally sophisticated.” The project will include ecological design features to increase the energy efficiency of the facility. It will also contain hydroponic gardens that will be maintained by students and faculty in the Applied Science Academy, with produce to be used by culinary students in the school’s Vocational Training Academy who will provide cuisine to all students in the shared cafeteria.
News Article | May 18, 2017
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark, N.J., and Mercer County Community College (MCCC) in West Windsor Township, N.J., have signed a joint agreement designed to improve student access across the two higher-education institutions. The 2+2 Connect Articulation Agreement will enable MCCC students to earn a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from NJIT while studying almost entirely at MCCC's campus. Under the terms of 2+2 Connect, MCCC students who earn an associate degree in engineering science may transfer up to 67 common-course credits toward a B.S. in civil engineering from NJIT. They will then have the opportunity to pursue the additional 66 credits required for the bachelor's, primarily through face-to-face courses on the MCCC campus; some courses will be offered online or at NJIT's main campus. Transferring MCCC students must go through NJIT's customary transfer process and meet all applicable admission requirements and deadlines. "It is important for us to create pathways to success and eliminate as many barriers as possible for community college transfer students," noted NJIT President Joel S. Bloom. "With this collaboration, we are expanding access and creating exciting professional opportunities for academically successful students enrolled at Mercer County Community College while introducing them to NJIT's outstanding undergraduate programs. As New Jersey's public polytechnic university, it is incumbent upon NJIT to articulate well with the STEM programs at our state's community colleges." NJIT instructors will teach the NJIT courses in classrooms and laboratory space licensed to the university by MCCC. Additionally, they will be responsible for grading, classroom rules and student conduct and disciplinary matters. "This partnership is all about building on the strengths of both institutions," said Jianping Wang, president of Mercer County Community College. "NJIT has a top quality engineering program, and now we are bringing their quality programs to our campus." Officials from both NJIT and MCCC gathered at MCCC May 10 for a signing ceremony to enact the five-year agreement, which, subject to Middle States Commission on Higher Education approval, will begin fall semester 2017 and be reviewed annually by both parties. Basil Baltzis, vice provost for academic affairs at NJIT, and Taha Marhaba, professor and chairman of civil and environment engineering at the university, were instrumental in drafting the agreement. One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of 11,400 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering and cybersecurity, in addition to others. NJIT is among the top U.S. polytechnic public universities in research expenditures, exceeding $130 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com. NJIT has a $1.74 billion annual economic impact on the State of New Jersey. Established in 1966, Mercer County Community College is a publicly supported comprehensive educational institution that provides opportunities for higher education through an open-door admissions policy. MCCC offers 70 degree program options and 30 credit certificate programs. It enrolls more than 13,000 full- and part-time students each year.
News Article | May 4, 2017
In recent years, research into the myriad complexities of the brain and neurophysiology has gained momentum at NJIT across diverse disciplines, including biology, biomedical engineering, mathematical sciences and computing. With the formal inauguration of the university's Institute for Brain and Neuroscience Research (IBNR) in March, the efforts of NJIT researchers to increase basic understanding of the brain that could lead to new healing therapies for related injuries and disease will be more sharply focused and closely coordinated. As the primary home for all neuroscience initiatives at NJIT, the IBNR will serve as an umbrella and organizing framework for collaborative research and training in areas ranging from brain injury, to neural engineering, to neurobiology, to computational neuroscience. Researchers will investigate, for example, how specific behaviors are generated in the nervous system, the mathematical modeling of neural patterns in bacteria, animals and humans, and innovations in brain imaging and neurorehabilitation, among others. In opening remarks at the IBNR inauguration ceremony held in the Campus Center, NJIT President Joel Bloom offered a succinct summary of the new institute's working environment: "Very talented people working in teams across disciplines to solve very challenging problems." This perspective was similarly reiterated by NJIT Provost Fadi Deek, Professor of Biomedical Engineering Namas Chandra and Professor of Neurobiology Farzan Nadim. Chandra and Nadim, both distinguished researchers, are co-directors of the IBNR. As Chandra and Nadim emphasized, the IBNR will not only promote leading-edge integrative research but will also engage students at every level in this research. Chandra said, "We are beginning to unravel some of the greatest mysteries of the brain. But this can only happen if knowledgeable people in many disciplines come together and speak the same language - the language of neuroscience. NJIT is providing the structure critical for making this happen." Nadim added, "The IBNR puts us in the position of having a truly interdisciplinary program in the neurosciences at NJIT. Involving undergraduate and graduate students in the work of the institute will clearly reinforce how interdisciplinary collaboration is fundamental to meeting the challenges we propose to approach, which include acquiring more comprehensive knowledge of the normal brain so that we can understand what's wrong with respect to diseases and disorders." Provost Deek said that the IBNR sets a high bar for research and education at the university, not only in terms of successful scientific investigation but also to the extent that it succeeds in valuing participation by junior as well as senior faculty, and by an increasing presence of women and minorities historically underrepresented in such leading-edge initiatives. Referencing the university's current strategic plan, 2020 Vision, Deek said that the IBNR is "how the university will look in 2020." "Establishing the IBNR is a milestone of superb collaborative synergy among faculty, staff and students," said Atam Dhawan, NJIT's vice provost for research, in his welcoming remarks. At NJIT, as Dhawan explained, this synergy integrates numerous related efforts across disciplines and research centers. It will also make the IBNR a focal point for collaboration with a wide range of other institutions and funding organizations. Cooperation in working toward common goals in brain and neuroscience research already involves Rutgers University-Newark, Rutgers Biomedical Health System, part of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, the Brain Health Institute at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and the Kessler Foundation. The National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the Kessler Foundation are among the organizations providing funding for research currently underway. The audience of some 200 gathered for the formal inauguration of the IBNR, which included brief presentations of research by faculty and students and a tour of campus research facilities, reflected the inclusive outreach of the IBNR initiative. Commenting on the perspective of his own institution, Sussex County Community College President Jon Connolly said that a key goal at his school is to provide students who want to eventually attend NJIT with the physical resources and solid grounding in the STEM disciplines relevant to successful participation in research such as that going forward at the IBNR. The keynote address at the inauguration was given by Colonel Sidney R. Hinds II, M.D., U.S. Army. Currently, he is the coordinator for the Brain Health Research Program for the Department of Defense (DoD) Blast Injury Research Program Coordinating Office and medical advisor to the principal assistant for research and technology, Medical Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, Maryland. He has also served as the national director for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. While a critical DoD research priority is traumatic brain injury (TBI) related to the combat experience of U.S. military personnel, Hinds said that the scope of this effort is also far more inclusive. Citing the incidence of brain injuries in the national population -- some 1.7 million reported annually with 52,000 deaths -- he said that DoD programs and collaborations in this area promise to benefit not only those serving in all branches of our military but also the general U.S. population and the people of other countries. Accordingly, the DoD is working with a wide range of academic institutions and research organizations to investigate the "full continuum of brain trauma and how that trauma occurs." "We do have state-of-the-art science and critical care but we need to standardize our approach and better utilize what we know. We want to go from good to great," Hinds said. Going from "good to great," he explained will require comprehensive investigation of what he termed the "neurotoxic cascade" of brain injuries -- the nuanced, complex impacts on the anatomy of the brain and our neurophysiology. This includes gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the unique challenges presented by mild, or concussive, TBI, which are the majority of such injuries. Collaboration will be the key to progress in acquiring new basic knowledge and improving care for the injured, Hinds said. "It is not going to be one organization, not one individual, not one lab but a very multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary approach that will move the field forward toward better understanding of the brain, especially with respect to brain injury." Commenting specifically on the establishment of the IBNR, Hinds spoke of how it will build on research that NJIT is already doing in collaboration with the DoD and other groups. He characterized the IBNR as a place where "geographically disparate, perhaps mission-disparate, organizations can be brought together to best utilize available resources to answer critical questions about traumatic brain injury and neuroscience." Under the leadership of Directors Chandra and Nadim, Hinds said, the IBNR will be a place where "shared experiences, shared resources and shared research" can be strategically focused on identifying critical gaps in our knowledge and then prioritizing and initiating efforts that can fill those gaps. One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of 11,400 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cybersecurity, in addition to others. NJIT is among the top U.S. polytechnic public universities in research expenditures, exceeding $130 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com. NJIT has a $1.74 billion annual economic impact on the State of New Jersey.
News Article | May 4, 2017
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J., May 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- WisEngineering is pleased to announce that it has been named the recipient of NJIT PTAC's "Small Business of the Year" Award. The award was presented during the 2017 Small Business Procurement & Matchmaking Conference on May 1st. This event was held to connect small businesses with government agencies and prime contractors. This is the inaugural year for the award, and WisEngineering is the first to receive it. President of WisEngineering, Cheryl D. Hall, served as the Keynote Speaker for this event, providing a thorough telling of her journey and the history of the Dover-based firm. Just under a year has passed since WisEngineering was named the U.S. Small Business Administration's 2016 Regional Prime Contractor of the Year. Opportunities continue to emerge allowing WisEngineering to set a notable example for small businesses searching for industry growth.
News Article | June 2, 2017
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is pleased to announce the support of State Senator Paul A. Sarlo (D-Bergen) and Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union), as well as numerous industry leaders for an allocation in New Jersey's Fiscal Year 2018 State Budget to support Makerspace at NJIT. Joining Senator Sarlo and Assemblyman Bramnick in support of a $10 million allocation to this project are the Research and Development Council of New Jersey; ExxonMobil Research and Engineering; Sharp Robotics; Specialty Systems, Inc.; Panasonic Corporation of North America; Stryker Joint Replacement; SMH International; Imperial Machine and Tool Co.; and the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Center. Makerspaces are part of a national movement that is fundamentally changing the way government, educators, and industry partners will collaborate in the future. Makerspaces enable hands-on, project-based learning complemented by training on industrial equipment, development of prototyping skills, and experience with modern manufacturing technology. Students learn real world, tangible skills such as product design and prototyping, manual and computerized metal and wood work, industrial metrology, and computer aided design. These skills prepare them to enter the workplace and take leading roles in manufacturing and product development. The NJIT Makerspace also will provide opportunities for industrial partners to participate as mentors, trainers, and instructors. Companies can collaborate with students and faculty members on research and development projects or send employees for customized training tailored to their needs. The NJIT Makerspace will offer training courses in a variety of formats ranging from small-group sessions to full-scale courses covering major manufacturing equipment and technologies. Courses and workshops will be offered as part of certificate programs or stand-alone units and can be delivered in a variety of formats matching the needs of a manufacturer or employer. NJIT President Joel S. Bloom said, "An industrially-focused makerspace such as the one we are building at NJIT is a training-focused, rapid prototyping facility that operates a wide variety of equipment from small 3D printers to large industrial machining centers. Engineers and technicians from industry will utilize the NJIT Makerspace, which will be open to the public, to meet many of their business needs." Senator Sarlo noted, "This is an important workforce development initiative for our state. The economy of the present and of the future will be driven by technology, and producing graduates who have the technological capabilities necessary to meet the needs of our key industries is a must if we are to prosper as a state. NJIT excels at accomplishing this task and will be able to further enhance its effectiveness and impact with the addition of Makerspace." Of his support for the $10 million allocation from the state fiscal year 2018 budget Assemblyman Bramnick said, "This program will transform students' lives and set them on a great path toward their future careers. Students will learn real world, tangible skills that will prepare them to enter the workplace and take leading roles in manufacturing and product development." Makerspaces have become an integral part of teaching, learning, and industry relationships at major universities such as Yale, NYU, Northwestern, MIT, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Michigan. Makerspace at NJIT will be the largest educational facility of its kind in New Jersey. State-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure will be designed to augment NJIT's rigorous course work, train students on modern equipment, support student organizations, foster entrepreneurial activities, and retrain members of the workforce. Key features of the NJIT Makerspace will include: One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of 11,400 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cybersecurity, in addition to others. NJIT is among the top U.S. polytechnic public universities in research expenditures, exceeding $130, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com. NJIT has a $1.74 billion annual economic impact on the State of New Jersey.
News Article | February 28, 2017
In a paper published last week in Nature Communications, "Dynamical Majorana edge modes in a broad class of topological mechanical systems," the researchers report the discovery of a large class of materials with such capabilities. "Remarkably, we believe these properties may be present in many materials composed of dimers, a chemical structure in which two similar masses are linked to one another through a rigid, nearly unstretchable bond. Dimers make up the building blocks of many cellular components and so it appears that storing energy in this way is a strategy that a variety of cells use on a daily basis in many living organisms," notes Camelia Prodan, associate professor of physics at NJIT and an author of the paper. "This research could be used to explain cell behavior that is not yet fully understood," she adds. The paper stems from research funded by a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation awarded last year to Prodan and her collaborator, Emil Prodan, professor of physics at Yeshiva University, to research the role of topological phonon edges in the functioning of microtubules—the skeletal material in eukaryotic cells. Phonon edges are quanta of sound or vibrational energy confined to the edge or surface of a material. The Prodans are particularly interested in how microtubules store energy at their edge that is not propagated in their cylinder-shaped bodies. Majorana edge modes are the equivalent of a type of subatomic particle - Majorana fermions - that appear in some types of superconductors. They are the energetic vibrations that appear at the edge of a material that cannot be destroyed by the environment or by the material breaking. They are exploring the potential to engineer new materials with novel physical properties based on topological phonon edge modes. "Ultimately, we would like to create materials that mimic this property - the ability to restrict energy to an edge - to enhance earthquake resistance in buildings or the protection of bullet proof vests, for example," she says. "We also think this property may be the key to a new generation of anti-cancer agents, because of the role topological phonons may play in cell division. Microtubules must fall apart before a cell can divide. Chemotherapy currently works by preventing cells from dividing, but recurrent cancers find a way to weaken these defenses." Working with nanotechnology experts at NJIT, Reginald Farrow, research professor of physics, and Alokik Kanwal, assistant research professor, they hope to provide the first experimental verification of the key role that these topological phonons play in many fundamental cellular processes, including cell division and movement. In addition, based on the results of their study of microtubules and topological phonon edge modes, the research team will seek to predict and fabricate a new class of materials called topological phononic crystals, with applications ranging from energy-efficient solar cells, to sound deadening and amplification, to insulation. More information: Emil Prodan et al, Dynamical Majorana edge modes in a broad class of topological mechanical systems, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14587
News Article | February 28, 2017
Here's how Frshly works: Customers desiring fresh, hot food from popular local restaurants choose from a selection of stocked menu items at a Frshly state-of-the-art dispensing machine. The company's proprietary technology, a "recipe" of robotics and algorithms, then enables the quick procurement, takeaway-friendly wrapping and prompt delivery of the order. To ensure that the food is always fresh, Frshly restocks the dispensing machine regularly. The meals "are packed according to the given specifications for every mealtime at the participating restaurant kitchens and then are transported to the Frshly outlets where they are stacked," explained ChamyVelumani. "This is as good as any convenience store where products are pre-stacked based on predictive demand analysis." Customers also can place an order, as well as specify a pickup location and time, via the free Frshly app, available from the Apple and Google Play stores. The app secures their meal until they collect it, at which time the dispenser reheats and serves it. The cost for Frshly meals ranges from Rs 59-159 in Indian currency (approximately $1-$2.50). ChamyVelumani has introduced Frshly in three cities in India: Bengaluru, Chennai and Secunderabad. Each market features different cuisine. "The idea is to serve the brands from the cities in which we operate," ChamyVelumani noted. "Frshly is an ecosystem for multiple restaurants to get on board and reach out to new customers. Even though Frshly is an aggregation platform, the brands that participate are curated based on the market demand." In addition to train stations and the Chennai International Airport, the company also has a presence at information technology parks and large information technology companies and commercial technical support locations—a pipeline ChamyVelumani describes as strong. The Frshly journey, from "back of the napkin" concept sketches to the first customer making a selection, took ChamyVelumani two-and-a-half years to complete. He faced some challenges along the way, particularly with building the interface between the ordering app, the dispenser and the enterprise resource planning system. "With Frshly, every single thing had to be developed from scratch," he said. "There were a lot of dependencies. We are talking about an entire ecosystem here, including hardware." Fortunately, pitching Frshly to the Indian Railways Network and airport authorities proved much easier. Indian Railways had been searching for an innovation in the food and beverage space and Frshly fit the bill. A successful pilot in Chennai Central Railway Station followed and since then Frshly has opened two more stores in India, with a third and possibly more poised to launch this year. Frshly may even find its way soon inside the compartments on long-distance trains. "First" is certainly a recurring theme of the Frshly story. The business is a first of its kind and the first commercial venture for ChamyVelumani, who is the first in his family to become an entrepreneur. All in all, he said, it "has been a great ride so far." Before returning to his home country to start Frshly, he worked in the manufacturing industry in the U.S. for 11 years in a variety of engineering roles at 3M Purification Inc. (formerly CUNO Incorporated). And just before joining 3M, he earned his M.S. in manufacturing systems engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT); he also holds an MBA in global enterprise management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "I was working in India as a mechanical engineer for about two years, mostly doing 2D drafting and 3D modeling. I became bored of that work and I didn't think those jobs were paving the way for me to achieve my future dreams. I wanted to get a broader exposure to manufacturing and through my friends I heard about the manufacturing systems engineering course that was offered at NJIT," offered ChamyVelumani, who arrived at the university in 2000. "Overall, the course work was an eye opener. I particularly enjoyed my design-for-manufacturing classes with [Professor Sanchoy] Das." To further improve service, ChamyVelumani and his Frshly staff—about 60 people including store owners—are fielding recommendations for new cuisines and meal quantities from customers, who on the whole have appreciated the convenience of getting their favorite food brands at the touch of a button. Looking ahead, Frshly is expanding its operations into Singapore this March and also working to set up stand-alone dispensers for several large food brands. ChamyVelumani's vision for his company includes moves into other Asia Pacific countries, the Middle East and ultimately North America. ChamyVelumani encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to dream big and work hard. He credits his NJIT education with helping shape him into who he is today. "My master's program put an entire business sense of things in my head," he reflected. "I always say this: 'It is not the subjects that we study, but it is the application that makes the difference.' NJIT helped me with learning the application." Explore further: Why restaurants want you to order food on your phone More information: For more information on Frshly, visit gofrshly.com
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2013
ABSTRACT: In this Phase I STTR project, we propose to demonstrate the feasibility of developing a low cost, compact, time-domain terahertz (TD-THz) spectrometer specifically for the characterization of semiconductor materials over a range of temperatures, electric fields, and magnetic fields. In phase I, we will configure fiber optic coupled TD-THz instrumentation to make measurements on a sample using a commercial, off the shelf (COTS) optical cryostat and with variable electrical and magnetic field. We will specify analysis methods to determine relevant semiconductor parameters such as doping concentrations and carrier mobility from the THz spectral data. We will demonstrate these methods by collecting and analyzing the THz spectra of representative semiconductor samples as a function of temperature, electric field and magnetic field. In this Phase I STTR project, we propose to demonstrate the feasibility of developing a low cost, compact, time-domain terahertz (TD-THz) spectrometer specifically for the characterization of semiconductor materials over a range of temperatures, electric fields, and magnetic fields. In phase I, we will configure fiber optic coupled TD-THz instrumentation to make measurements on representative semiconductor samples using a commercial, off the shelf (COTS) optical cryostat and with variable electrical and magnetic field. We will specify analysis methods to determine relevant semiconductor parameters such as doping concentrations and carrier mobility from the THz spectral data. We will demonstrate these methods by collecting and analyzing the THz spectra of representative semiconductor samples as a function of temperature, electric field and magnetic field. We will develop the specifications for a Phase II prototype TD-THz test system using fiber optic coupled THz instrumentation and components for automatically acquiring the THz spectral data under the relevant conditions. The fiber optic THz transmit and receive modules would be integrated into a sample cryostat with variable electric and magnetic field.rade offs in features, size, weight, and cost will be discussed. BENEFIT: Upon successful completion of the Phase II project, the proposed TD-THz spectrometer will provide a turn-key system for the determination of semiconductor electronic and optical properties such as doping concentration and carrier mobility. The instrument will acquire TD-THz spectra from 0.1 to>3THz. The sample under test may be measured at a wide range of cryogenic temperatures, electric fields, and magnetic fields. The instrument will employ software which automates the Phase I algorithms to calculate the electronic and optical parameters of the semiconductor samples. The instrument will be suitable THz spectroscopy of pharmaceuticals, synthesized organic compounds, explosives, and other material.
News Article | February 28, 2017
A little-understood biological property that appears to allow cell components to store energy on their outer edges is the possible key to developing a new class of materials and devices to collect, store and manage energy for a variety of applications, a team of researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Yeshiva University has proposed. In a paper published this week in Nature Communications, “Dynamical Majorana edge modes in a broad class of topological mechanical systems,” the researchers report the discovery of a large class of materials with such capabilities. “Remarkably, we believe these properties may be present in many materials composed of dimers, a chemical structure in which two similar masses are linked to one another through a rigid, nearly unstretchable bond. Dimers make up the building blocks of many cellular components and so it appears that storing energy in this way is a strategy that a variety of cells use on a daily basis in many living organisms,” notes Camelia Prodan, associate professor of physics at NJIT and an author of the paper. “This research could be used to explain cell behavior that is not yet fully understood,” she adds. The paper stems from research funded by a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation awarded last year to Prodan and her collaborator, Emil Prodan, professor of physics at Yeshiva University, to research the role of topological phonon edges in the functioning of microtubules — the skeletal material in eukaryotic cells. Phonon edges are quanta of sound or vibrational energy confined to the edge or surface of a material. The Prodans are particularly interested in how microtubules store energy at their edge that is not propagated in their cylinder-shaped bodies. Majorana edge modes are the equivalent of a type of subatomic particle – Majorana fermions – that appear in some types of superconductors. They are the energetic vibrations that appear at the edge of a material that cannot be destroyed by the environment or by the material breaking. They are exploring the potential to engineer new materials with novel physical properties based on topological phonon edge modes. “Ultimately, we would like to create materials that mimic this property – the ability to restrict energy to an edge – to enhance earthquake resistance in buildings or the protection of bullet proof vests, for example,” she says. “We also think this property may be the key to a new generation of anti-cancer agents, because of the role topological phonons may play in cell division. Microtubules must fall apart before a cell can divide. Chemotherapy currently works by preventing cells from dividing, but recurrent cancers find a way to weaken these defenses.” Working with nanotechnology experts at NJIT, Reginald Farrow, research professor of physics, and Alokik Kanwal, assistant research professor, they hope to provide the first experimental verification of the key role that these topological phonons play in many fundamental cellular processes, including cell division and movement. In addition, based on the results of their study of microtubules and topological phonon edge modes, the research team will seek to predict and fabricate a new class of materials called topological phononic crystals, with applications ranging from energy-efficient solar cells, to sound deadening and amplification, to insulation.