NJIT's Engineers Celebrate Homegrown Talent at the 20th Annual NCE Salute to Excellence

Written by: Tracey Regan,
Students awardees at the 20th annual NCE Salute to Excellence

With cherry blossoms at peak season, more than 200 members of the Newark College of Engineering (NCE) community gathered this week at Nanina’s in Branch Brook Park to pay tribute to their own – high-flying seniors setting off on careers, alumni who have already made their mark on the world, and professors, staff and friends of the university who inspire and support ambitious NJIT engineers year after year.

“We’ve come a long way from that first year,” Robert Cohen, the outgoing chair of the NCE Board of Visitors, noted with a laugh and a nod to the splendor of the setting for the 20th anniversary of NCE’s Salute to Engineering Excellence.

The gala, which honors the college’s enduring traditions while also touting exciting new directions, this year also touched on the growth of Newark as a growing technology hub and the university’s role in its rise.

NJIT President Joel Bloom noted, for example, the excitement around NJIT’s selection to host the Amazon Alexa-sponsored VOICE Technology Summit this summer, among other recent developments. As the university continues to burnish its reputation as a center of applied research, the new buildings on campus – from the Wellness and Entertainment Center, to the refurbished Central King Building, to the Makerspace – are quickly proving themselves to be formidable assets.

But the night, he said, was primarily a recognition of the “tremendous devotion” that the NCE community “brings to this dinner, this university and to these students.”

Two revered members - Alvaro J. Piedrahita ’73, president and chief executive officer of T.Y. Lin International, and Dieter Weissenrieder ’76, chairman of the Weiss-Aug Group - shared this year’s ‘Outstanding Alumnus’ award. Both stressed the university’s enduring values as key to their success in business – and in life.

NCE alumnus Alvaro J. Piedrahita

“What I’m most impressed with is the diversity,” Piedrahita (above, left) said after receiving his award. “The university embraces people of all backgrounds. I had classmates from every corner of the globe. This is how you learn to build bridges, not walls.”

His education, Weissenrider noted, not only prepared him for his success in business, but “served me well throughout my entire life.”

The undergraduates honored at the event – selected from each NCE department for their standout academic performance as well as their involvement in the NJIT community – represent the full range of NJIT ingenuity and determination. Ivan Mitevski, from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is heading off to Columbia University to pursue a doctorate in applied mathematics. Brianna Bohn, from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, is taking a job with Merck & Co. in Charlottesville, Va., while Bryan Wild, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will work as an engineer for Langan while simultaneously earning a master’s degree in water resources.

“These students are very good in the classroom – it’s embarrassing to have a 3.8 (GPA) around them!” remarked NCE Dean Moshe Kam. “But what distinguishes them is the breadth of their other involvements. They’re all engaged in active research, having apprenticed themselves to labs, while they’re also associated with charitable organizations and professional societies.”

Proceeds from the event will benefit the NCE Dean’s Fund.