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NJIT is Shaping New Jersey’s Innovation Economy

Demand for highly-skilled STEM professionals is seemingly insatiable. One third of the entire U.S. economy is supported by science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs, and the expected growth of the workforce in the years ahead will certainly see that number rise, with nearly 800,000 new STEM occupations projected through 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. STEM occupations have been the No. 1 in-demand career cluster for the past decade and will continue to be into the future.

This makes the role of higher education more essential than ever before. Higher education institutions, and specifically an education in STEM, are critical in providing the talented workforce for technological ambition on the state, national and global levels.

However, the changing landscape and requirements of industry have forced pivots in higher education, and with it, academic preparation. New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is rising to the challenge.

KEEPING UP WITH DEMAND — PREPARING A WORKFORCE

Since its inception in 1881 and as one of the country’s leading public polytechnic universities, NJIT has played a crucial role in marrying an educated and skilled workforce with the needs of many different industries. This tradition continues, with new academic programs reflecting the needs of the workforce today and well into the future.

NJIT launched the Department of Data Science and features bachelor’s, master’s and certificate programs for computing and mathematics students. Data science students will be prepared to enter and advance in a top-20 fastest growing industry, with 31% projected growth over the next 10 years. The NYC-metro region is home to nearly 5,000 data and math scientist positions with an annual mean wage of over $120,000. NJIT is answering the call as the largest producer of computing talent in the region, graduating over 800 computing professionals each year. NJIT has prepared students to become quick experts in one of the fastest-growing fields in data mining with a four course certificate program that can be completed 100% online or on-campus. With no cybersecurity background necessary to start, the data mining certificate makes a great choice for those looking to upskill or pursue a master’s in computer science, information systems or business and information systems.

FinTech is reshaping how companies interact with consumers, and NJIT designed the first undergraduate degree in New Jersey to supply this emerging market. Wall Street and beyond are seeking to hire a new generation of workers who are skilled in applying computing to commerce. Though the transfer of banking and finance from brick and mortar to digital isn’t new, financial institutions are now leaning heavily into the integration of data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence and this is where the next generation of innovation lies. Business and management graduates from NJIT have gone on to work for top employers in unique roles at Prudential, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, UPS, IBM, Accenture, Forbes and more.

Sustainable infrastructure developments are now big economic drivers in New Jersey and at NJIT. A 10-year agreement with Ørsted, the world leader in offshore wind development, lays the foundation that will provide preparation and support for undergraduate scholarships and pre-college STEM programs. Tackling other sustainable infrastructure challenges is NJIT’s Materials and Structures Laboratory, conducting cutting-edge research in the reuse, recycling and manufacturing of sustainable materials in the $931 billion concrete industry. One of only four colleges nationwide to offer a concrete industry management program, NJIT boasts a nearly 100% job placement rate in this field.

PARTNERING WITH INDUSTRY

NJIT has been a pioneer in partnering with industry through its New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII). Founded in 2014, NJII combines the vast resources of NJIT, strong industry and government relationships, and proven methods to drive innovation and deliver transformative products and services. To date, NJII’s lifetime revenue has eclipsed $300 million across its six industry divisions.

One such fruitful partnership is in NJII’s biopharma sector with the launch of a digital capabilities center to advance operations in cell and gene therapy. Partnering with McKinsey & Company and supported by NJII’s BioCentriq, the new center will focus on accelerating operational excellence and digital transformations in biopharmaceutical manufacturing for an in-demand industry in cell and gene therapy.

Supporting the new demand are NJIT’s Professional Science Masters (PSM) degree program and professional graduate certificate in cell and gene therapy. Both programs have been developed to meet growing demands from the biopharmaceutical industry for trained scientists and engineers at the forefront of the coming wave of breakthrough gene and cell therapies.

In the manufacturing sector, the NJIT Makerspace is a valuable resource — and the largest of its kind in New Jersey at 21,000 square feet — for design, development and rapid prototyping for entrepreneurs, innovators and inventors. NJIT was one of 12 winners in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Makerspace Training, Collaboration and Hiring Pilot Competition (MaTCH). The grant from MaTCH funded the Advanced Manufacturing and Mechatronics Program at NJIT to help workers secure advanced manufacturing jobs and the option to pursue further training in an apprenticeship program or a college education in advanced manufacturing.

Global company Rockwell Automation, based in Parsippany-Troy Hills, partnered with NJIT and donated key pieces of equipment to the program, including variable frequency drives with motors, automation controllers and motion control systems, among many others. This program helps industrial end-users drive economic outcomes that have long-lasting impacts on local and national levels and supports key workforce development objectives.

Serving another growing market, NJIT’s Ying Wu College of Computing features the Industry Affiliates Program (IAP), a platform to nurture corporate partnerships, providing opportunities for companies, students and faculty in employment, training and joint research and development. Fortune 500 companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Google, UPS, Microsoft, Prudential, Facebook, AT&T and Merck have all leveraged the IAP, with mutual benefit to NJIT. NJIT@JerseyCity, the university’s Jersey City location, further serves the strong demand for data science professionals and offers graduate-level programs to develop the skills necessary to innovate in today’s digitally dominant world.

SUPPORTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP & INNOVATION

NJIT is recognized as the No. 1 school in New Jersey for undergraduate entrepreneurship by The Princeton Review. Through efforts including major and minor degrees, specialized courses in technology commercialization and competitions and funding for student and alumni startups, NJIT has been working hard to make the entrepreneurship program accessible and relevant to students across the entire campus and beyond.

New Jersey’s plan to reestablish itself as a global power in the innovation economy are seen through efforts like those at NJIT. To make New Jersey the innovation state of tomorrow, it must prepare and support innovators today through capital and business investment.

NJIT is serving the needs of budding entrepreneurs and provides unique, hands-on opportunities, including Innovations Corps (students validating business models), the Tech Venture Support Program (students helping local startups) and programs with VentureLink@NJIT – New Jersey’s largest business incubator.

OculoMotor Technologies (OMT) is one such startup that has taken advantage of NJIT’s entrepreneurial and innovation support systems. Biomedical engineering professor Tara Alvarez and a small group of alumni founded OMT based around technology that employs virtual reality gaming to correct a vision dysfunction. Their move into VentureLink@NJIT helped transition their research and translate it into the commercial space, making their technology available to patients.

NJIT has also launched the Paul V. Profeta Foundation, Inc. Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This center will fund scholarships for undergraduate students, provide summer stipends enabling recipients to serve as interns with one of NJIT’s hands-on, entrepreneurship-focused centers, and provide subsidies for Profeta Fellows to participate in national and regional training programs, workshops and conferences related to entrepreneurship.

Furthermore, NJIT is now directly engaged in business investment. NJIT has committed $6.75 million over the next 10 years to directly finance startups through its new Venture Fund, which provides up to $75,000 seed funding for students, staff, faculty, alumni and startups licensing NJIT intellectual property.

Submitted by: New Jersey Institute of Technology

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