Social Media Celebrity?

Written by Casey Harrigan
Albert Dorman Honors College


Photo courtesy of

Social media platforms including YouTube, Instagram, and Vine utilize mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive and easily accessible environments through which individuals and communities can connect, create, and share.  The astronomical amount of attention that has been generated by social media in recent years is actively creating a revolutionary new landscape of communication.

Not only is social media altering the way in which individuals communicate, it is also redefining what it means to be a “celebrity.”  Now, more than ever, fame is accessible.  In recent years, society has witnessed social media catapult a large number of ordinary individuals, including Tyler Oakley, Jay Alvarrez, and Marcus Johns, to levels of fame and fortune they had never before imagined.

Social media is widespread and far-reaching.  One can release a single hilarious photograph, create an entire account dedicated to a pet, or post a series of inspiring videos about his or her life, and subsequently change the world.

The immense influence that is carried by social media provides a way for talented people who long to operate outside the system to find success.  Fame seekers now have the tools necessary to be their own engines; they have the platform that is required to build their own stage.

Artists, comedians, actors, and actresses from all corners of the globe are reaching millions of individuals every day, every hour, and perhaps even every minute using nothing more than their cell phones.  Social media is so influential that it has become a lucrative career for many individuals.

Giving Back and Helping Others

Written by Alexander Thomas
Albert Dorman Honors College

Community service is a great way to give back to the community and help others. One great experience I had involving community service was when I went to Kentucky a few summers ago on a trip called Red Bird Mission. The mission site was located in Beverly, Kentucky. The mission had groups come down from different states and repair people’s houses. These homes are located in three of the top five poorest counties in the United States.

AThomas Service1While down there, I was part of a group that was assigned to repair a roof. At first, it just seemed like another trip where we would complete the task we were given and then that would be the end of it. But the trip was nothing like what I expected. I thought the whole ride down that the trip would benefit the homeowners and not really benefit me, but I was wrong. The trip taught me a lot about who I am and what’s important in life.

The trip taught me not only how to repair a roof but also what really matters in life. One important lesson I learned is not everything is about me. That phrase had an important meaning during my trip and my life after the trip. I learned to be selfless and realized that what was important was the fact that we were making a positive impact on someone’s life. We were helping a family have one less thing to worry about and another reason to be happy and thankful.

AThomas Service2Once we were finished repairing the roof, instead of saying our goodbyes to the homeowners, we asked them what else we could do for them.  It was a simple request but to the homeowners it meant a lot. They were grateful for our willingness to improve the quality of their life. I still remember their facial expressions like it was yesterday. They had the biggest smiles on their faces when they heard our request. Their expressions were what made the trip worthwhile. It’s when everyone in the group realized that community service isn’t about making our image better or making ourselves feel better about ourselves, it’s about doing the right thing and improving someone’s life. When you worry about other people besides yourself, you’re often happier and appreciate things more.

Volunteering for Chef Robert Irvine

Written by Brendan Dente
Sophomore, Chemical Engineering
Albert Dorman Honors College

20160108_115857We all know that, as Albert Dorman Honors College students, we have a responsibility to give of our free time (what little there may be, anyway) to give back to the communities that surround us.  However, the words “community service” should not be tied to images of long hours of boring, monotonous work.  Thanks to the Center for Leadership and Professional Development and its Assistant Director, Ms. Feghhi, you can find some very unique and interesting service opportunities.  Through one of Ms. Feghhi’s e-mails, I took the initiative to sign up for this incredible opportunity to give back to the community (not to mention meet celebrities and have a chance to get on TV.)  I’m talking about volunteering for Restaurant: Impossible.

Restaurant: Impossible is a television show that travels around the country to restaurants that have declined in popularity over the years to the point where they can no longer support themselves or are on the verge of closing.  Robert Irvine, the host and master chef on the show (hence being on the Food Network), tries to fix a restaurant’s problems, whether they be the food, the people in charge, or the overall quality of the restaurant.  He coordinates with his builders and designers to rebuild the restaurant from the bottom up and transform it into a better version of the owner’s original idea.  It was fortunate that his construction manager, Tom Bury, is an NJIT graduate from the School of Architecture (he was here when the “Archie” building first opened); Tom offered us the opportunity to work alongside him and his coworkers at the Starlite Italian Restaurant & Bar in West Orange, NJ.

20160107_180713As a volunteer, I dealt primarily with the builders and designers as they handed out tasks that needed to be completed.  At the start of the first day, we were tasked to build some of the new furniture that would go inside the restaurant based on a predetermined theme.  Once the work started to slow down and  eventually halt as things inside the restaurant were not progressing quickly, we had to wait before we were allowed inside the dark, basement-like restaurant.  After putting all the trinkets into a storage container, we moved the tables and chairs out to be cleaned and refurbished with new tabletops and upholstery.  This took up the majority of the volunteers’ time on the first day, but the day was not over for the builders as they worked until the early morning hours to get ahead of their 2-day time limit.

12513844_10208602343077938_4702638762973048243_oThe next day involved getting into the restaurant itself, following Chef Irvine’s orders, and cleaning the bar and the floors – specifically, the grout.  I spent the majority of my time on my hands and knees scrubbing with many other volunteers and workers.  While all of this was going on, new chefs were being hired, the kitchen was being cleaned, and new equipment was being brought in to replace the refrigerators and stoves that had been there since the restaurant opened.  When all of the work was finally completed, the restaurant looked brand new, bright, and like a modern Italian restaurant.

10580748_10208602345197991_8137148261143806481_oOn CCTV, we even had the opportunity to watch the “reveal” to the family in charge of the restaurant.  It was extremely satisfying to see the fruit of our labors fully blossom when we saw their faces light up with awe, shock, surprise, and delight at the sight of their new restaurant.  It made all of the back-breaking work we did really worth all of the pain and hardships we had to go through over those two days.  It was also nice to have a heart-to-heart about the work we did with all the other volunteers and workers.  It was humbling to see the gentler side of Robert Irvine when there was no more work left to do and no cameras around us.

If an opportunity like this ever comes up again, I’d highly suggest that you take it!  It was well worth the time and effort to see the new chance at life that you can offer someone simply by cleaning up some chairs and putting more lights up.  And don’t forget to watch the Food Network on March 9th to see all of our hard work in action and possibly see some of your NJIT peers for their less-than-thirty-seconds of fame.

Stewartstown Railroad

Written by Timothy Ruane
Junior, Industrial Engineering
Albert Dorman Honors College

Stewartstown RailroadStewartstown Railroad is a historic railroad located in Stewartstown, PA.  It runs for 7.4 miles to New Freedom, and was used by farmers to get access to a national railroad network in order to sell their goods.  The railroad has an interesting history throughout the decades, including its transformations due to the Great Depression and trucks becoming more popular.  However, its connection to the national network was broken and it ended as a commercial track, eventually becoming an operational historic track.  Like all old things, it needs work and upkeep.

And that’s where you come in.  You can get involved by volunteering your time at the railroad.  Volunteers are always needed and appreciated.  Anyone can sign up; there are monthly work weekends that are announced on the railroad’s Facebook page and the organizers will respond to questions on what kind of work will be going on.  (In my own experience, if you’re willing to wake up at a reasonable time, you can fulfill your 15 hours of external community service requirements in a single weekend there.)  There is a volunteer log in the station that records the time spent and what was done on the track, allowing an easy copy to be made with a simple camera phone.

The bigger question is, “Why would you spend your time working at the railroad?”  Well, other than the fact that you’ll be able to sing, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” there are a handful of reasons, the first being that you will be restoring a historic railroad.  Since I have started working there, the railroad has been improved to be able to support the locomotive and the other large cars for two miles, something that has not been done for a few decades.  That feeling of seeing your work move rails and replace ties to allow the trains to be used again is amazing.

The second reason would be the learning experience that comes with the work.  The railroad understands that not all people will have experience with all the jobs required to fix a railroad, so they teach you.  In the beginning, the majority of your work will be general work in the station and in the yard, but more importantly replacing ties and aligning rails.  The more often you go, however, the more you’ll learn.  Since I’ve started, I’ve learned how to drive trains, how to use an acetylene torch, how to operate a backhoe, and a lot about train mechanisms and track layouts.  Not only are you helping the railroad, but you’re gaining hands-on experience that you can list on your resume.

To learn more about the railroad and volunteering opportunities, visit their webpage at and their Facebook page at Stewartstown Railroad Company


Written by Yash Bhardwaj
Freshman, Civil Engineering
Albert Dorman Honors College

Finals.  The word itself is a horror story.  Of course, it marks the end of a semester and the beginning of a long-awaited vacation, but the last week of school when all students have to take their finals is full of absolute chaos.

Most students have the habit of procrastinating for finals and cramming all of the studying of the information covered during the whole semester into the night before they have to take the final for a class.  If there is more than one final that they have to take on the same day, they might pull an all-nighter to study, meaning they’ll be half-dead the next day when taking the finals.  And then, after taking the finals for that, they have to start cramming studying for the finals they will take the next day.  It is literally the most exhausting week of the whole semester.

So what can be done to make the week just a bit easier to handle?  Well, it is most beneficial to start studying a few weeks before finals week.  That way, you can slowly review all the material that you have covered in all of your classes during the semester and really get a good grasp on the material.  Also, if you have any questions while studying, you will have the time to ask your professors the questions during office hours.  That way, you will fully comprehend the concepts covered in class.

Studying 2

Create study groups.  Get a few people from each of your classes and schedule a time before the final exam and study together as a group.  It may sound awkward, but the more people that study together, the more information you will be able to cover in one study session.  Since there are more people studying, it will be much easier to spot harder material to study, and everyone can help each other if anyone has trouble understanding some of the material.

Read the textbook.  Most students neglect reading their textbooks the whole semester.  They spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to buy the textbooks and then the textbooks never get opened during the whole semester.  Professors choose textbooks very carefully because they want students to have an extra resource at home to study.  In other words, it really is to your advantage to read the textbook as the class progresses.  That way, by the end of the semester, you will be familiar with all of the material, and if you need any help on a certain topic, you can always find and review it in the textbook.

It really isn’t hard to study for finals if you put forth the effort to do so.  Keeping good study routines throughout the whole semester can contribute to a much more relaxed finals week that will provide a great transition to the upcoming break from school.


Participating in NJIT Against Hunger

Written by Sean Kessell
Freshman, Mechanical Engineering
Albert Dorman Honors College

NJIT Against Hunger

Hershey kisses were lying on each table as each of us were given three strips of blank paper and markers.  Looking at these, I was clueless as to what this could be for.  I cam here thinking we would be making food, not this.  This is what I thought until it became clear: the papers were to be attached to the kisses with a meaningful message.  Each meal needed a meaningful message that is representative of what NJIT Against Hunger is all about.  With that, my peers and I went to it, writing message after message until all 400 were completed.  We had to show the community that NJIT truly cares.

Making 400 meals in one day is no easy task, but for over 100 volunteers, anything is possible.  I, along with numerous other Honors students, went to the Campus Center Ballroom on November 21 to help with the program NJIT Against Hunger, a student-run event where hundreds of meals are made for the hungry and homeless at Newark Penn Station.  This was the second time I participated in this event, so I knew the kind of teamwork and determination it would take to make all of the meals within a little over three hours.

The students were put into groups based on their first names.  The groups ranged from making salad, making sandwiches, and even the simple task of placing a fork and knife in each individual bag.  The first time I did NJIT Against Hunger, I was assigned to the salad team.  We had to cut carrots and lettuce while combining it all into one giant bowl.  After that, peas, corn, tomatoes, and dressing were added to finish the nutritious salad.  At the second event, I was a part of the bag team.  We had to separate all 400 bags and place a napkin, fork, and knife in each one.  While this doesn’t sound very difficult, it sure did take plenty of time to complete.  Once we finished that, we helped clean up the mess that is bound to happen when 400 meals are assembled.

Diego NJIT Against Hunger

Though we spent over three hours making that food, it didn’t feel that long at all.  Not only was the event for a great cause, but it was a ton of fun at the same time.  Doing something good for the community while being surrounded by your closest friends is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Laughs were shared and memories were made.  While I wanted to accompany the group and go to Penn Station to distribute the meals, I unfortunately was not selected as they randomly selected 30 people from the 100 in attendance.  Even though I could not do this, I still can appreciate what I did and the numerous people that I and everyone with me had impacted that day.  All I could think of was the smile on someone’s face as they read the message I put in the bag containing their meal.  The thought of that smile is enough to make anyone continue doing this work.

Getting Adjusted to the College Lifestyle

Written by Sean Kessell
Freshman, Mechanical Engineering
Albert Dorman Honors College

group photo

Sun shining down, blue skies, and a whole lot of excitement.  The day is August 26, a day that feels like eternities ago.  This was the day honors freshmen moved in, and the day my entire life would change.  I went from the small, rural town of Hackettstown, New Jersey to the sprawling city of Newark, home to our own NJIT.  Not only was the change of scenery significant, but everything about my lifestyle would change.  I was now on my own, my parents not being there as the crutch I could rely on for so long.  It was up to me to continue any success I have made, and it sure was an adjustment.

At first, the experience was very overwhelming.  I rarely get nervous, but the first day of classes I could barely eat out of sheer anxiety.  The first week flew past, and the next thing I knew I had common exams in only a few weeks.  The workload was actually surprising to me as I felt like it would have been much greater.  While I am still tasked with doing a lot of work, it is not anything I haven’t done, as I always challenged myself throughout high school with college-level courses.  The biggest adjustment for me school-wise was the significance of tests.  Tests make up the majority of the grade, and I soon learned that I had to put all of my effort into studying for these tests.  As time went by, I developed my routine and learned good study habits I could use for each of my tests.  I soon learned which classes were the toughest and needed the most attention.  I got into a groove that helped me succeed for the first semester of my college experience.  Many of my professors are truly nice people and I’m glad to be in their classes.  I learned that they truly do want to see you succeed and that they will offer help if you ask them.  Now that the semester is winding down and finals are approaching, I need to keep my focus for the last few weeks as I can’t afford to do poorly on my finals.  I will study hard for the final exams and I hope to finish off my semester as well as I started.

My adjustment to college life was made much easier by the people I met at NJIT.  These people with whom I’ve become friends are very supportive and we all helped each other as we got through our first semester.  Whether it was working on calculus together or studying for a physics exam, we each helped the other learn the material and get over any obstacles.  Not only did we help each other with our school work, but we made sure that we had fun.  While the work is very important, the friendships and experiences we make are essential to the perfect college experience.  With these friends, I can say that the greatest experiences I have already had can become even better for the next few years of my college life.

The wind is brisk, the rain finally subsides from the grey clouds above.  It’s December now, the second to last week of classes before finals begin.  My first semester at college is almost over, and I can say I made the right decision coming to NJIT.  I have had a fantastic experience so far and I can only see it getting better.  I’m prepared for what my classes will throw at me in the future and I know it won’t be easy.  College isn’t easy, but with the right support system and after getting adjusted to the lifestyle, I can say that I’m ready for my future here at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Students Send Holiday Mail to Soldiers

Ryan Merluza 2

Every holiday season, thousands of men and women stationed around the world are standing watch protecting the safety and peace of our loved ones back home.  We understand it is a necessary sacrifice, and we do so with honor.  This season, help give thanks to the men and women soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who are working diligently in the background to ensure we all have a joyful holiday.

Ryan Merluza
US Navy Veteran

Senior, Mechanical Engineering Technology
Albert Dorman Honors College


Written by Prasanna Tati
Freshman, Biology
Albert Dorman Honors College

To many of us, the memories we find most important during the holidays are those made with family and friends.  Unfortunately, for some, there are a few members missing during the holiday season.  And these missing members are likely those forgoing this relaxing break in service to our country.


Even during the holiday season, millions of men and women are unable to come home to see their families.  Oftentimes, they are forgotten by those who are celebrating the holidays with their own families.  For us, the time for “giving” is the holiday season.  For the men and women in the armed forces, the time for “giving” is every single day.

This holiday season, consider writing a letter or drawing a card for a soldier overseas.  The Honors Council Community Service Committee will be accepting letters and cards that will later be sent to a larger organization such as Operation Gratitude.  Just be sure not to send anything with glitter as it can be harmful to soldiers under medical care.

You may be at a loss for words when writing the letter, but just think about what these men and women do for us.  Thank them for their service and let them know you are thinking of them this holiday season.  A few sentences about gratitude and wishing them happy holidays makes a bigger difference than you might think.  Here are some guidelines provided by Ms. Feghhi, Assistant Director of the Center for Leadership and Professional Development:

  • Start with a salutation such as “Dear Hero” or “Dear Brave One”
  • Write to any of the following: a Deployed Troop (currently overseas in harm’s way), Veteran (has served our country in the past), New Recruit (just completed Boot Camp and has sworn to serve for the next 4+ years), Wounded Warrior (injured in combat).  All deserve to be thanked for their commitment and bravery.
  • Express your thanks for their selfless service
  • Avoid politics completely and religion in excess; however, saying you pray for them is acceptable
  • Share a little about yourself: family, hobbies, work, school, pets, travel
  • Talk about life & interests: sports, weather, music, movies, food, books
  • Adults: include your contact information (mail or e-mail) so the letter/package recipient can reply (optional); please remember that they may not be able to respond.

The letters and cards can be dropped off at the Center for Leadership and Professional Development, 2nd floor of the ADHC (the office with the mailbox on the window ledge).  Each quality card or letter will also count for one internal service hour.  Everyone is welcome to make and submit as many letters as they’d like, but only up to the first five quality letters may count for service hours.  Please contact Prasanna Tati at with any questions, concerns, or comments.

MIT Summer Research Program

Written by Victor Aladele
Senior, Electrical Engineering
Albert Dorman Honors College

Victor Aladele MIT picture1

This past summer (7th of June – 8th of August, 2015), I was selected to be a part of the MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP). I was assigned to the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), where I worked directly under the supervision of a post doc, Dr. Robert MacCurdy; a faculty mentor, Professor Daniela Rus, who is the current director of CSAIL; and another student from Harvard, Youbin Kim. The goal of our project was to develop a 3D-printing procedure for the fabrication of hydraulic systems in small-scale robots.

Victor Aladele MIT picture 2Hydraulically-controlled soft actuators have recently become popular in small-scale robots due to their ability to more accurately imitate life-like motion, as well as their higher power-to-weight ratio. Unfortunately, most of these robots are limited in complexity and size due to constraints in conservative manufacturing techniques. In this project, we focused on testing the feasibility of the 3D-printing design approach to manufacture hydraulic systems. There are several limitations to this approach. These include how thin the components of the hydraulic system could be printed without causing fractures in the design parts and secondly, the challenge of designing two different parts very close together that will still be printed as two different components and not as a single part. Therefore, we printed several designs to see what the minimum measurements and tolerances were, to overcome these limitations. I designed external gear pumps using this fabrication technique. However, because I printed liquid within the gear pump, parts of the surfaces of the gears and the bottom surface of the gear housing got deformed due to the slushing of liquid over these surfaces. One way I was able to overcome this problem was to print thin support materials between the solid parts and the liquid. This prevented the liquid from being in direct contact with the solid parts. Having overcome this challenge, I was able to print a working 3D-printed gear pump without the need for any form of assembly. The success of this project could provide an attractive alternative to conventional methods, as this fabrication procedure eliminates the need for assembly of complex parts of a robot.

Victor Aladele MIT picture 3Although by the end of the nine weeks at MIT, we had not been able to make 3D-printed robots, I was able to manufacture a functioning gear pump to show the promise in this fabrication technique. At the end of the summer, I made a poster presentation at MIT, where I displayed the model I had made. My experience at MIT also involved attending breakfast and dinner sessions, where we (members of MSRP) listened to different professors at MIT who came and talked to us about their past and current research work. These professors also talked about their academic biographies and indicated some of the things that had helped them get to where they are now. Therefore, my experience at MIT was a holistic one and I am very confident that this has put me a huge step ahead in my preparation for graduate school.

My First Semester at NJIT

Written by Yash Bhardwaj
Freshman, Civil Engineering

The beginning of college is an experience I will never forget.  I came with so many concerns about the load of work that I would get, how I would get used to my schedule, whether I would get to know my classmates, and if I would get accustomed to the overall environment.  It’s like entering high school, but on a much larger scale.  I come from a blue ribbon high school and a school district that forces its students to work extremely hard.  This school district is always competing to be years head of the rest of the school districts in NJ, with the ultimate goal of being one of the best school districts in the United States.  For that reason, I had become used to having large loads of work, spending long hours (5-8 hours) after school each day studying and finishing homework.  I didn’t know what to expect when I came to college because everyone says that the workload increases in college.  But I have to say, high school prepared me well for this workload and I know how to manage my time effectively to deal with it.

It does get difficult sometimes to manage my work along with my schedule.  For example, on Thursdays, I have classes from the morning all the way until 9 p.m., and then I have to commute back home which takes about an hour and twenty minutes in total.  Then, I have to finish my homework.  Two weeks ago, I had three projects due on Friday, and even though I had begun working on them way before the due date, there were many questions I had about the projects, and the only help I could get was from other students who procrastinated.  That meant I had to work on my projects all night until 4 a.m., and then I had to wake up at 6 a.m. to be able to catch the train on time to reach my 8:03 morning class.  That was the latest I have ever had to stay awake, and I don’t plan on doing that again anytime soon, but it really gave me a heads up for what’s to come in college.

I was also concerned about how fast I would get to know new people and also know my way around campus.  Since I’m a shy individual, it did take some time for me to get to know people and start making friends.  All of the group projects that I have had have forced me to get to know some people from almost all of my classes, and I’m grateful for the outcome of those projects.  As for getting around campus, it took me about a week to get to know where most of the buildings are, so I am not stressed about getting to class on time.

I have to say, after college started, I haven’t been able to give any time to my hobbies or the things I enjoy doing.  I’m studying all day and night, and the only breaks I get are usually at lunch and dinnertime.  I am also losing out on a lot of sleep due to the nature of my schedule.  Overall, I have gotten used to college life rather quickly, and I’m happy about that.  Currently, I’m no longer stressed about going to college, just about keeping my Honors status which includes maintaining good grades and fulfilling all of the requirements of an Honors student.  And I have to say the environment at NJIT is much better than I expected, which makes my friends (who went to more “prestigious” colleges) jealous, because the environment that they have to live in and go to school in isn’t as inviting as NJIT.  For that reason, I’m extremely satisfied that I chose to come and study at NJIT.