Spring 2020 Newsletter
A Message from the Department Chair
Dear Friends of Civil and Environmental Engineering,

First and foremost, the CEE department faculty and staff have been doing everything possible to ensure that our students continue to have the opportunity to learn and progress towards their degrees in these difficult times. I want to thank them all for their monumental, rapid, and unprecedented efforts to ensure that their classes and labs can be effectively taught as the world fights to defeat this pandemic. I would also like to thank NJIT's leadership and support services during this transition. Information and resources regarding the Coronavirus pandemic is available here.

As you may have noticed, we have updated the format of the newsletter. These updates are designed to provide you the best reading experience and to ensure you can easily find the news, announcements, and updates that you are most interested in and are useful to you as a CEE stakeholder. I invite you to read more about the recent accomplishments of some our students, faculty, and alumni highlighted in this newsletter.
I wish you and your family good health in these difficult times and thank you for your continued interest and support of the department.
Taha F. Marhaba , P.E., F.ASCE
(973) 596-2444
(973) 596-5790 fax
Newsletter Contents
  • In The News
  • Department Highlights
  • Student Highlights
  • Alumni Highlights
  • Recent Events
  • Recent Publications
  • Recent Grant Awards
  • Ongoing Research
  • Our Advisory Board
  • Newsletter Credits
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We collect information on various experiential opportunities for our students such as internships, co-ops, and other job postings. Please contact us with any opportunities at cee@njit.edu and thank you in advance!
Scholarship Donations 
Our Industrial Advisory Board has created an annual scholarship fund to assist CEE undergraduates preparing for professional licensure by reimbursing testing fees to students who pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.  

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In the News
With an NSF RAPID Grant, NJIT Engineers Build a New...

A team of environmental engineers at NJIT is developing a new way to track the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus, by combining advanced statistical methods with models that incorporate environmental conditions, such as wind speed,...

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NJIT Research Magazine 2020

The CEE Department's Lucia Rodriguez-Freire, Jo Young Lee, and Matthew Adams were all featured in NJIT's Research Magazine 2020.

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NJIT is Number 2 on College Factual's List of Best Civil ...

For the second year in a row, the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) program at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is ranked number two in the nation by College Factual, a data analytics and research company that focuses on...

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Princeton Review Ranks NJIT Among Top Schools with 'the...

New Jersey Institute of Technology is one of the nation's best colleges for students seeking a superb education with great career preparation and at an affordable price, according to The Princeton Review®. The education services company profiles...

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NJIT Technology and Society Forum Presents: Smart Cities

Smart Cities is an all-encompassing expression that represents an optimal situation for operating cities while maximizing the benefit to their citizens. A successful Smart Cities approach would also incorporate forward-looking management...

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Traditional Knowledge Important for Survival: Dr Lagi

The significance of the use of Traditional Knowledge (TK) for Weather Forecast and Traditional Mitigation and Adaptation Approaches to Climate Change in Tuvalu and the Pacific region was highlighted at a workshop hosted by the New Jersey...

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Lucia Rodriguez-Friere Lead Water Research

NJIT is no stranger to the lead-water crisis that continues to plague Newark citizens, with continuous testing and replacement of repairs being watched closely in the past years as the extent of...

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Getting the Lead out of Newark's Drinking Water

As Newark races to replace thousands of lead-based pipes that feed drinking water into homes, the city faces another urgent challenge: stopping the heavy metal from leaching into the water supply while the massive remediation effort is underway....

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NJIT a Top Graduate School for Engineering for the 17th...

U.S. News & World Report has released its 2021 rankings for the nation's top graduate schools, with NJIT ranked among the best for graduate degree programs in engineering. The university moved up two slots this year to No. 87 - up 24 slots in the ...

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NJIT Recognized in 4 Areas of Distinction for Student...

For its unwavering and ongoing commitment to both first-generation college students and students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, NJIT has been acknowledged in four key areas of distinction: inclusion, affordability, completion...

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Ph.D. Seminars Nurture In-Demand Professional Skills and ...

For doctoral student Gayani Gunarathna, the Ph.D. Professional Development Series of seminars offered by NJIT's Graduate Studies Office (GSO) has been a boon as she gets set to launch her career. Gunarathna, who will be a geotechnical engineer in ...

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NJIT Faculty Joins Int'l Forum on Future of...

The COVID-19 pandemic continues upending life for countless people around the world, threatening public health while disrupting everything from basic home and work routines, to air travel and financial markets. But what has the global slowdown...

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Department Highlights
Concrete Canoe Competition

Over the last few months, the department's Concrete Canoe team has been planning and preparing for the competition.

The team has already successfully poured their canoe and removed it from its mold. The department is proud to feature the canoe pour as our first Time Lapse Production! Check it out in the video to the right.

"The concrete pour was the casting of this year’s concrete canoe, the Agent of Chaos, themed after the movie Joker, due to its filming location in downtown Newark. All the hard work from the team comes together on this day to combine the fruits of labor to cast the final product. This year’s vessel is made of black dyed concrete with soon to be green gunwales to encapsulate the spirit of the Joker. It is made by two layers of concrete with a layer of polypropylene plastic mesh between the two layers. The canoe team is excited to compete in this year's competition and continue on the road to nationals."

Matthew Laub, 2020 Team Captain

The competition has since been postponed due to the ongoing pandemic. Stay tuned!

You can learn more about CEE design competitions at civil.njit.edu/design-competitions
An Update on the Next-Gen Soft Skills Certificate Course

Twelve CEE students have enrolled in the second offering of the Next-Gen Soft Skills Certificate Course this Spring semester.

The course is an initiative of the CEE Industrial Advisory Board (IAB), designed to introduce participants to soft skills that will enhance their ability to succeed in the field of engineering.

Topics include communication, relationship building, public speaking, business etiquette, time management, interviewing, and presentation skills. Students' self-confidence, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills are also reinforced.

Participating students who attend all lectures will receive a $100 CEE IAB Scholarship.
Lunch with the CEE Faculty Spring 2020 Program

Each semester, the department runs the "Lunch with the CEE Faculty" program to connect students with faculty outside of the classroom in an informal lunch setting.

Through the program, students are able to select participating faculty members to have lunch with The meal is paid for by the department.

This past February, nineteen students signed up for lunches with six faculty members.

The program will be run again in the Fall semester.
NJIT ASCE Chapter Receives Honorable Mention for Outstanding Activities

NJIT’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers has received an honorable mention from the organization for, “Its outstanding activities as recorded in the 2019 Chapter annual report.” The chapter set goals to give back to the community, increase social media communications, and to expand its membership at both the university and national levels. In all three areas, the chapter well exceeded its set goals.

“Our student chapter is devoted to helping our members achieve success. Through our professional meetings with engineering firms and volunteer events, students are given the opportunity to network and give back to the community. We also encourage our student members to partake in our social events as a way to relax and get away from schoolwork for the time being. Our most successful events for the 2019 year included our Bohler Engineering professional meeting, E-Week at Liberty Science Center, and the CEE Carnival.”
- Jas Ahuja, NJIT ASCE President

The chapter invited eight speakers for professional meetings that saw dozens of students attend. The Bohler Engineering professional meeting was particularly successful with over 50 students in attendance. The chapter also hosted a number of social events and traveled to attend several leadership training events and conferences, including the 2019 ASCE Workshop for Student Chapter Leaders in Orlando, Florida.

The chapter performed K-12 outreach with a visit to Middlesex County Vocational and Technical High School’s East Brunswick campus to introduce Architectural Technology students to the field and the daily impact of civil engineering. Members also volunteered at the Liberty Science Center for E-Week to provide children with fun, hands-on civil engineering exhibits.

Looking to the future, the chapter wants to build upon its success. Plans include reaching out to other organizations at NJIT, as well as external community organizations, that may need its help and to get chapter members involved. Social media engagement efforts will expand with the launch of a LinkedIn page to complement current efforts on Instagram, reaching more potential members who could benefit from the chapter’s academic, professional, and social activities.

The NJIT ASCE chapter’s leadership can be reached for more information at NJITASCE@gmail.com .
Graduate Seminar Series

Each semester, the department hosts a series of Graduate Seminars on campus.

Each seminar features a prominent guest speaker from industry or academia and spans current topics in structural, geotechnical, and environmental engineering, as well as transportation.

The seminars are organized by Professor Bruno Gonçalves da Silva and are held Monday afternoons. Although the remaining are on hold due to COVID-19, a number of seminars were successfully held.

To learn more about each speaker and topic that has been held, please click on the corresponding links below:

  • M. Ala Saadeghvaziri, Ph.D., PE, F.ASCE
  • Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology

  • Hongkyu Yoon, Ph.D.
  • Research Scientist at the Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico

  • Tiffany Szeles, Ph.D.
  • Associate II, WJE Engineers & Architects, P.C.

  • Yang Deng, Ph.D., PE
  • Professor of Environmental Engineering, Montclair State University

  • Ismail Karatas, PhD, PE
  • Supervising Engineer, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff

The full planned schedule of Spring 2020 graduate seminars is available here.

For any questions regarding the Graduate Seminar series, you can email Dr. Gonçalves da Silva directly at bruno.m.goncalvesdasilva@njit.edu.
EduMind Contracted to Provide FE Exam Preparation for CEE Students

The CEE Department is proud to announce a collaboration with EduMind to provide its students an opportunity to be well prepared for passing the FE exam. Students are reminded to take full advantage of this online course.

The CEE Industrial Advisory Board has set aside a scholarship which pays for the exam fee and provides recognition to students who pass the FE exam on their first attempt.
Student Highlights
CEE Students Take Annual Trip to World Trade Center

Each year, CEE’s Muhammad Elgammal takes his Construction Scheduling and Estimating (CE-410) students on a trip to the World Trade Center complex in New York City to highlight some of the site’s engineering features. 

Elgammal previously worked for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), which is headquartered in Tower 4. More notably, as a senior at NJIT, he worked as an intern in the Material Engineering Unit for the PANYNJ, testing construction materials at Tower 1 and the Transportation Hub. 

The class had discussions surrounding the balance of architecture, aesthetics, and engineered elements. Elgammal stated that, “As beautiful as the site is, it came with a host of challenges on both ends of the spectrum. The projects associated with the complex features some of the very real challenges in achieving a constructible design in consideration of other disciplines outside the Civil Engineering practice. Schedule and budget control were also critical components of this project's portfolio.”
NJIT ASCE Chapter Attends Annual Leadership Conference

Students from NJIT’s American Society of Civil Engineers chapter attended the ASCE's Multi-Region Leadership conference in Philadelphia at the end of January. 

According to CEE Teaching Assistant and Ph.D. candidate Catarina Baptista Pereira, “ This Conference gave the students some tools on how to improve their leadership skills. They explained what the difference between a leader, a mentor or supervisor is; how to fundraise and manage the finances of the ASCE student chapter and even how to improve communication within social media platforms. In this conference, the students were also able to understand how the FE and PE work. They learned what they need to do in order to pass the exam and to become an engineer. We were also able to network with other students and professionals from the civil engineering industry and to exchange contacts.”
Alumni Highlights
Top This! Alumnus Vatsal Shah is "Young Engineer of the...

Vatsal Shah '08H, M.S. '09, Ph.D. '14, a civil engineer with Mott MacDonald who oversees the design and construction of foundations - for wind and solar farms, wastewater treatment plants, tunnels and bridges, among others - in starkly diverse...

Read more
Alumnus Matthew Stephens Named VP of Development at Kokes

BRIELLE, N.J., Feb 25, 2020 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) -- Kokes Properties welcomes two new executives to the full-service real estate organization led by founder and third-generation developer Michael J. Kokes. Matthew Stephens....

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Want your Alumni Highlights featured in upcoming newsletters?
Contact us at cee@njit.edu with your content and we'll include it in the next issue!
Recent Events
Resilience in the Face of Rising Sea Levels: Harnessing Traditional Ecological Knowledge
in the Pacific Island of Tuvalu
Written by Dr. Wen Zhang
On January 24, 2020, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) hosted a workshop entitled “Resilience in the Face of Rising Sea Level: Harnessing Traditional Ecological Knowledge” in Tuvalu, an island nation in Polynesia. This workshop was supported by NDC Partnership’s Global Environment Facility - Small Grant Program (GEF-SGP). Dr. Rosiana Lagi, campus director at the University of the South Pacific’s Tuvalu campus, attended the workshop and delivered a keynote presentation funded by the Foundation for Youth Development (FYD), a global non-governmental organization based in New Jersey. Her presentation highlighted the significance of the use of traditional knowledge of weather forecasting and traditional mitigation and adaptation approaches to climate in Tuvalu and the Pacific region. Dr. Lagi presented to about 40 civil and environmental engineering undergraduate students at NJIT, with other participants such as NJIT’s faculty, graduate students, and Dr. Charles Nyandiga, a representative of the GEF-SGP. Dr. Wen Zhang, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at NJIT moderated the workshop. After Dr. Lagi’s talk, FYD New Jersey coordinator, Mr. Ugo Amadioha, presented key outcomes from the organization’s community-based project in Tuvalu, Tonga, and Nauru.
Dr. Lagi also elaborated on the role of the USP Tuvalu campus on awareness, teaching, researching and community engagement in ensuring this knowledge is passed on to the younger generation for a resilient Tuvalu. Some of the activities the USP students and staff are involved in are planting mangroves to help absorb carbon in the atmosphere and help the world maintain the temperature increase of below 1.5 degrees, publishing children’s books on traditional knowledge and skills and working with community members on community projects such as conservation and research to improve practices.
Recent Publications
Generation and Numerical Analysis of Random Aggregate Structures in Recycled Concrete Aggregate Systems

Jayasuriya, A, MP Adams, and 
MJ Bandelt

Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering

Nonlinear Behavior of High-Intensity Ultrasound Propagation in an Ideal Fluid

Jitendra A. Kewalramani, Zou Zhenting, Richard W. Marsh, Bruce G. Bukiet, and Jay N. Meegoda


Feasibility of Ion Exchange Membranes to Control pH during Electro-Osmotic Consolidation

Lucas Martin and Jay N. Meegoda

Geotechnical Testing Journal

Application of the Diffused Double Layer Theory to Nanobubbles

Jay N. Meegoda, Shaini Aluthgun Hewage, and Janitha H. Batagoda


Analysis of the Effects of Visibility and Warning Devices on Driver Injury Severity at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings Considering Temporal Transferability of Data

Sina Darban Khales, Steven Chien, Joyoung Lee, and
Branislav Dimitrijevic

International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion

Influence of CAV Clustering Strategies on Mixed Traffic Flow Characteristics: An Analysis of Vehicle Trajectory Data

Zijia Zhong, Earl E. Lee, Mark Nejada, and Joyoung Lee

Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies

Determination and Utilization of Dilemma Zone Length and Location for Safety Assessment of Rural High-Speed Signalized Intersections

Min-Wook Kang, Moynur Rahman, and Joyoung Lee

Transportation Research Record

The Effectiveness of Managed Lane Strategies for the Near-Term Deployment of Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control

Zijia Zhong and Joyoung Lee

Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice

Enhanced Degradation of Antibiotics by Photo-Fenton Reactive Membrane Filtration

Shaobin Suna, Hong Yao, Wanyi Fu, Shan Xueb, and WenZhang

Journal of Hazardous Materials

Visible-Light-Driven Photo-Fenton Reactions Using Zn1-1.5xFexS/g-C3N4 Photocatalyst: Degradation Kinetics and Mechanisms Analysis

Qiao Wang, Peng Wang, Peng Xu, Yang Li, Jiajun Duan, Guangshan Zhang, Limin Hu Xiaojing Wang, and Wen Zhang

Applied Catalysis B: Environmental

Recycling Spent Lithium-Ion Battery as Adsorbents to Remove Aqueous Heavy Metals: Adsorption Kinetics, Isotherms, and Regeneration Assessment

Yanhao Zhang, Yuchen Wang, Haohan Zhang, Yang Li, Zhibin Zhang, and WenZhang

Resources, Conservation and Recycling

Separation, Characterization and Identification of Microplastics and Nanoplastics in the Environment

Wanyi Fu, Jiacheng Min, Weiyu Jiang, Yang Li, and Wen Zhang

Science of The Total Environment

Progressive Microseismicity and Damage of Hydraulically-Fractured Granite Subject to Triaxial States of Stress

Bruno Goncalves da Silva and Gayani Gunarathna

AGU 2019 Fall Meeting

Recent Grant Awards
Microwave-Assisted Reactive and Antifouling Membrane Filtration for Water Purification

PI: Wen Zhang (PI)

Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Interior

Award: $150,000
Electromagnetic Induction Interfacial Heating for High-Efficiency Membrane Distillation

PI: Wen Zhang (PI)

Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Interior

Award: $150,000
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) Regional UTC Consortium - "Fire in Tunnel Collaborative Project"

Funding Agency: US DOT

Award: $381,000
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) Regional UTC Consortium - "Segment-Level Crash Risk Analysis for New Jersey Highways Using Advanced Data Modeling

PI: Lazar Spasovic (PI) and Branislav Dimitrijevic (Co-PI)

Funding Agency: US DOT

Award: $272,000
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) Regional UTC Consortium - "Designing Concrete Mixtures with RCA" 

Funding Agency: US DOT

Award: $134,000
Task Order No. 115: Intelligent Transportation Systems Resource Center (ITSRC)

PI: Lazar Spasovic (PI), I Jy Chien (Co-PI) and Chengjun Liu (Co-PI)

Funding Agency: NJ DOT

Award: $3,322,500
Houston-Galveston Area Council TELUS Upgrades

Funding Agency: Houston-Galveston Area Council

Award: $400,000
RAPID: Scaling, Causality, and Modulation of the Spread of COVID-19

PI:  Michel Boufadel (PI)

Funding Agency: NSF

Award: $200,000
Highlights of Ongoing Research
NJIT Environmental Engineers Are Analyzing
Marine Microplastic Pollution

Written by Dr. Wen Zhang, Wanyi Fu, and Chunzhao Chen
Microplastics are tiny plastic particles or fibers with diameters less than 5 mm (Fig. 1). It has been estimated that about 5.25 trillion tons of plastics contaminate the world’s oceans, with microplastics accounting for 92.4% of this waste. Microplastics in natural waters undergo complex interactions with aquatic species (e.g., bacteria, algae and suspended solids or particles) and hydrophobic pollutants. Previous studies have reported the adsorption and desorption behaviors of organic pollutants and heavy metals on various microplastics. Nevertheless, the environmental fate of the released chemical additives or degradation byproducts has not been well understood. 
Organotin compounds (OTCs) are man-made organometallic derivatives with endocrine disrupting abilities. OTCs have been used as light and thermal stabilizers in PVC plastics for more than 40 years, accounting for 3.5% of the total tin consumption worldwide. Many researchers have investigated the leaching behavior of diethylhexyl phthalate (another plasticizer) from PVC-based products. However, there is a paucity of information on OTC leaching procedure from PVC materials. Dr. Wen Zhang's group at NJIT aims to perform a holistic investigation of OTC release kinetics from PVC microplastics with (funding support from New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute (NJWRRI), a U.S. Geological Survey research center (Project Number: 2019NJ408B).
In this study, Zhang and his Ph.D. students, Wanyi Fu and Chunzhao Chen (visiting student from Tongji University) studied three different sized PVC microplastics in simulated marine environments under UV or visible light irradiation. Furthermore, the potential influences of photo-induced reactive intermediates on the release and photodegradation of OTCs were also investigated under UV irradiation. PVC is one of the most widely used polymeric materials in municipal and industrial applications. Accordingly, the resulting PVC microplastics is prevalent in the natural environment. Four types of OTCs were found to release from PVC microplastics especially under light exposure. On the other hand, high salinities enhanced OTC release from PVC microplastics, but blocked their photodegradation. Microplastics in estuary environments undoubtedly undergo photochemical degradations under sunlight and experiences impacts from water chemistry. This study only evaluated the release of the targeted additive-OTCs during the aging process of PVC. In fact, other chemical additives, co-polymers, polymeric debris and byproducts such as polyene are possibly released and deserve future research. 
Zhang's lab is now working on the photodegradation process of tributyltin (TBT) in the presence of microplastic particles like high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). Meanwhile, the degradation kinetics of trimethyltin (TMT) and triphenyltin (TPhT) were also examined in PP-mixed seawaters. This information could give new insight into the transport and removal process of OTCs or other similar water pollutants in microplastic-abundant aqueous matrices.

Our Advisory Board

The CEE Industrial Advisory Board represents a diverse cross section of civil and environmental engineering professionals including design consultants, construction managers, contractors, and attorneys.
Rocco Palmieri, P.E, P.P., PLS '72, '77, (Chair)
Partner Engineering and Science

Ted Cassera, P.E., '72
Bowman Consulting

Anthony Castillo, P.E., '95 '02
SESI Consulting Engineers  

Jerome F. Gallagher, Jr., Esq. '80
Norris, McLaughlin, Marcus, PA

David Good, P.E., '78, '92 
Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers

Andre Grebenstein, LEED AP '95
The Martin Group

Tony DeJohn, P.E., P.P.
WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff

Gareth Middleton, P.E., '93 '04
Tishman Construction, an AECOM Company 
Ed Peralta, P.E.,P.P., AICP, PMP,
PTP, PTOE '04, '06

Maurice Rached, P.E. 
Maser Consulting 

Joseph Stanley, P.E., P.P., '78, '85
Mott MacDonald

Ken Sisk, P.E., '95
Pizzarotti IBC
Wei Wang, P.E., '95 
Urban Tech

Michael Wright, P.E., P.P., PMP '79
Arora and Associates, P.C.

Aine O'Dwyer, PE. '07,'08
Enovate Engineering
Newsletter Credits
Jeremy Reich
Tracey Regan
Special Thanks
NJIT Office of Strategic Communications
NJIT Office of Alumni Relations
Contributing Faculty, Staff, Students, & Alumni