Come Meet NJIT's Undergraduate Inventors

Written by: Tracey Regan,

Innovation Day is a showcase of cutting-edge, student-led research that includes inventions that improve lives, novel business ideas, computer games and fundamental scientific research. This year, nearly three dozen student projects – from mapping applications for the transportation industry, to human control interfaces for surrogate robots, to novel drugs that target cholesterol – will be on display in the Campus Center on April 10.

A growing number of these undergraduate researchers are taking their innovations on the road: to technology conferences, along commercialization pathways such as the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program and before local venture investors.

Mark Quiles ’18, a finance and marketing major who created a company called League of Lifeguards that recruits lifeguards and matches them with jobs such as guarding at pools, parties and events like the Tough Mudder, is already commercializing his idea. Started last summer using social media, Quiles is developing the service into an app that will function like Uber or Airbnb. He won the Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge earlier this year for what his advisor, Michael Ehrlich, an associate professor of finance, called a clever solution for an unmet need.

Andrea Colby, an intellectual property attorney and certified professional coach, will give the keynote speech. Colby has worked for notable firms including Johnson & Johnson, Morgan & Finnegan and Union Carbide Corporation on issues such as patent preparation and prosecution, patent strategy and trademark and copyright litigation.

Throughout the year, Atam Dhawan, senior vice provost for research, encourages students to apply for funding to advance their projects.

“Whether it’s an app you’re designing, a device you’re inventing or fundamental scientific research you’re helping to rethink, start the process by sending us your ideas,” Dhawan urges.

Innovation Day assembles the university’s key undergraduate research and innovation programs and competitions. These contests and programs are designed to help students become researchers and innovators with the know-how, technical savvy and experience to identify and address important unmet societal needs.

The programs include:

TechQuest, an undergraduate invention competition sponsored by James Stevenson, a retired Honeywell scientist and consultant at Stevenson PolyTech LLC. 

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, which helps students compete for awards for their research presentations and enroll in graduate programs.

The Undergraduate Research and Innovation Program, which enables students to become researchers and to select projects that will address societal problems, enhance our quality of life, and contend with global challenges.

The Student Innovation Acceleration Club, which gives students the forum to develop business concepts utilizing a lean start-up methodology.

The Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge, a collaboration between NJIT and Capital One Bank, which aims to ignite business development in Newark by empowering budding entrepreneurs.

Innovation Day is sponsored by the James Stevenson Foundation, the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, The National Science Foundation, PSEG, The Hearst Foundation, The Needham Foundation, the NJIT Office of the Provost and the NJIT Office of Research.

The event begins at 9 a.m. in Ballroom A of the Campus Center.