A regional coalition led by Newark and New Jersey Institute of Technology is one of 60 projects selected as finalists for funding from the US Economic Development Administrationthe $1 billion regional Build Back Better challenge.
More than 500 applicants have submitted proposals for the regional challenge, which aims to spur pandemic economic recovery and rebuild American communities. The Regional Challenge provides transformative investments – up to $100 million per recipient – to grow and strengthen regional industrial clusters across the country, while embracing economic equity, creating well-paying jobs and improving competitiveness from the United States to the world.
Called the Greater Newark Smart Port Regional Growth Cluster, the project is both a supply chain accelerator and a job multiplier that will drive economic development across the region. Its objective is to transform the Port of New York and New Jersey facilities in Newark and Elizabeth by developing smart and resilient critical infrastructure through advanced engineering, modeling and innovative artificial intelligence-based technologies for cargo handling, transportation, tracking and delivery, and by supporting more efficient operations to increase port capacity and security.
The proposed projects will create new jobs and business opportunities in a region where socio-economically disadvantaged communities live, while having a lasting impact on the regional and national economy.
“As the state of New Jersey’s public polytechnic university and a partner of the City of Newark, NJIT will bring broad and deep expertise in the technology and innovation aspects of this effort,” said NJIT President Joel S.Bloom. “The projects undertaken will be central to the operation of Port Newark and the growth of its regional economic impact. New Jersey’s transportation and other regional port systems will also benefit from the creation of a center for transportation innovation, commercialization and technology transfer.
NJIT’s expertise also made headlines through another Newark partnership, as NJIT was instrumental in research and development to replace lead service water lines. Responding quickly to the crisis, NJIT research teams developed and tested chemical methods to prevent lead loss corrosion.
The team set up a lab on campus to test for lead in excavated pipes and to determine the extent to which orthophosphate builds up in service lines to block corrosion, an electrochemical process. Trained by the EPA’s Office of Scientific Research, NJIT undergraduate and graduate students evaluated pipe replacements to ensure their effectiveness.
“We have a strong interest and involvement in lead mitigation programs in our city of Newark,” said NJIT Dean Moshe Kam. Newark College of Engineering. “At the same time, we are using this city-wide effort to train the next generation of engineers. Through this project, graduate and undergraduate college students would learn about the critical societal impact of engineering; the close link between theoretical studies and laboratory experiments on the one hand, and real challenges in urban areas on the other; and the responsibility engineers owe to the well-being and health of their communities. This experience is likely to serve our engineers in training for many years of their future professional careers.
The process of eliminating lead pipes throughout the city has been hailed as a national role model by Vice President Kamala Harris during a recent trip to Newark. Over 23,000 lead service pipes have been removed in two and a half years with Essex County funding at no cost to the owner.
“It was a 10-year project,” said Kareem Adeem, director of Newark Water and Sewer. “We haven’t had a decade. We wanted to show that we could do things efficiently, effectively and immediately. And that’s what we’ve done.