New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) announced Jan. 20 it will receive $1.3 million from the $1.7 trillion federal spending bill that President Joe Biden signed into law in December 2022.
NJIT said the funding will support two initiatives that will bolster engineering education as well as manufacturing and mechatronics apprenticeship training.
The first – the community college pre-engineering network initiative – will develop programs for traditionally underserved students to pursue a STEM degree.
The second – the advanced manufacturing and mechatronics workforce development initiative – will provide training to those from underserved and economically disadvantaged communities for these in-demand jobs. NJIT said this training aims to bolster the industry in New Jersey.
“As the state’s public polytechnic research university, NJIT is a longtime leader in preparing students and professionals to enter the workforce highly sought after and ready to make an immediate impact,” NJIT President Teik Lim said in a statement. “The funding for these important initiatives will open more doors for more people, and will yield a better and more diverse workforce. Talent is everywhere, but opportunities are not — we are fixing that.”
Lim also thanked U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, both Democrats, for their continued support of the university.
“We must ensure New Jersey students have the opportunities and support to take on high-skilled jobs in the STEM fields and compete in the workforce,” Booker added. “I am proud to secure this investment that will allow New Jersey Institute of Technology—a national leader in student upward mobility—to equip students with in-demand skills and provide our employers with a robust talent pool.”
The community college pre-engineering network initiative aims to close the gap between open STEM positions and qualified STEM graduates.
Through the NJIT STEM Success Academy – a six-week, intensive summer program – eligible students will be introduced to engineering majors and themes, hands-on training, and the impact of engineering on society, the university said.
The academy aims to recruit underrepresented, minority and female students along with its partner, the New Jersey Community College Consortium (NJCCC).
More than 60% of Black and Hispanic engineers graduating from New Jersey public universities come from NJIT, according to the institute.
The pre-apprenticeship initiative is a 10-month program that will prepare participants for entry-level technician or artisan positions and apprenticeships. Students receive supervised instruction, training, hands-on experience and background education. They will learn manufacturing skills in machinery, mechanical and electrical devices and mechatronics, PLC programming, operation, troubleshooting, repair, maintenance, standards and safety.
The initiative will be supported by NJIT partners, including the Newark and Essex County Workforce Development Boards, Newark Alliance, New Jersey Community College Consortium, Schools That Can, the New Jersey Re-Entry Program and high schools in the Greater Newark area.
The initiative also will focus on recruiting participants from underrepresented backgrounds, primarily those ages 16 to 30, from the Greater Newark area.
Playing a large role in both initiatives will be NJIT’s Makerspace, which features more than $3 million in state-of-the-art equipment. The 21,000-square-foot center is the largest educational facility of its kind in New Jersey, according to NJIT.
“NJIT is uniquely positioned to provide exemplary education and experiential learning opportunities for engineers and technologists,” said Moshe Kam, dean of NJIT’s Newark College of Engineering. “The Makerspace at NJIT is a rich resource for engineers, designers, manufacturing professionals and skilled tradespeople, and offers a direct link to the equipment and processes found in industry.”