But for distinguished alumnus Ying Wu, the path to success led right back to where he started.
On May 16, NJIT trustees, overseers, Provost Fadi Deek, College of Computing Sciences (CCS) Dean Marek Runsinkiewicz, colleagues, students and friends assembled in the Guttenberg Information Technologies Center, where President Joel S. Bloom christened CCS the Ying Wu College of Computing Sciences.
“His name is renowned throughout China and he has given much of his time and treasury to this university,” said Bloom about the tech pioneer, who graduated from NJIT in 1988 with an M.S. in electrical engineering.
“This naming ceremony is a milestone in the history of the college, and an occasion to reflect on 15 years of the college and almost 50 years of computing at NJIT,” said Runsinkiewicz.
Created in 2001, CCS became one of the first schools of its kind in the country, and still boasts the largest computer program in the region, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science, information systems and information technology. “It’s a testament to the vision of NJIT faculty and administration, who recognized the central role computing would play in STEM education in the 21st century,” said Runsinkiewicz.
For the first time since it was established, CCS bears the name of a universally revered tech entrepreneur, who credits his NJIT educational experience with sparking an illustrious career in telecommunications.
Wu currently develops advanced wired and wireless products in his native China. He’s also the chairman of China Capital Group; a consultant to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council; senior internet consultant to the government of Shenzhen City; and recently, he helped organize the NJIT Alumni Association’s Regional Club in China, and was elected as its first chair.
“Ying Wu’s generosity of spirit and focus on innovation and excellence exemplify what we work diligently to teach all of our students,” said Bloom. “He is creating new scholarships and new opportunities for thousands of students who will be well educated at NJIT and who will make outstanding contributions to the economy and quality of life, locally and internationally.”
“I’m so happy to be here,” said Wu, who traveled back to his academic home from Beijing to accept the honor and receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree at the 2016 commencement ceremony. He expressed his eagerness to use his namesake as a vehicle to foster increased collaboration between the U.S. and China.
“I’ve always had this dream to see the two countries work together on future technology for big data,” said Wu. “The Ying Wu College of Computing Sciences has huge things to do. I really hope to see more collaboration between NJIT and China, more collaboration between the two countries and more Chinese who come to the United States to study and research here.”
Due to the painstaking work of the faculty and the game-changing research thriving in the classroom, CCS is “on the ascendency” and “in an outstanding position to take on the name of Ying Wu,” affirmed Bloom.
CCS remains the fastest growing college at NJIT; both undergraduate and graduate enrollment are up. And thanks to a growing cybersecurity portfolio, bursting with over $10 million in federal grants, CCS continues to raise NJIT’s profile as a pre-eminent leader in basic and applied research. The college also has been instrumental in NJIT’s crusade to bridge the gender gap and increase awareness around the lack of diversity in computer science and STEM.
“I changed my major seven times before finally figuring out that computer science is what I really wanted to pursue,” said Theresa Wagner ’18, during a speech at the naming ceremony.
The computer engineering and information technology major attends NJIT on a full scholarship and travels to nearby schools to inspire young women to consider careers in computer science. “Having the ability to give students the information I wish I were given in high school will certainly impact the technology community for years to come.”
The naming ceremony was sandwiched in between an hourlong President’s Forum, featuring Leonard Kleinrock, distinguished professor of computer science at UCLA, and a six-person panel, which chronicled the 40-plus years of computing at NJIT, and the university’s path-blazing success in transforming access to knowledge.
“There’s an old joke in academia that a lecture is the process by which the notes of the professor become the notes of the students without passing through the mind of either,” said CCS advisory board chair, Philip M. Neches, to a roomful of chuckles. “The nature of the work—and learning—is becoming different. More of it is doing and less of it is listening, taking notes and regurgitating. And I think NJIT has really paved the way with interactive, engaged learning.”
During the President’s Forum, Kleinrock, who also delivered the 2016 commencement address, gave a presentation on “A Brief History of the Internet.” His talk was laced with humor and anecdotal accounts, as his UCLA Host computer became the first node of the internet in September 1969. “Yes, the internet was born in 1969, but nobody noticed, nobody cared,” he quipped.
Offering commentary on everything from early internet culture (he showed the actual log of the first message on the internet) and how the web has removed physical barriers of interaction to what the future has in store (nomadic computing, ubiquity, mobility, internet of things, intelligent software agents, invisibility), Kleinrock reminded the packed house, “We’ve created a global system, which will constantly surprise us and shock us. And therein lies the opportunity and promise for more growth. Don’t ignore what happened before. It came from someplace.”
Much like the internet, the work done by CCS, its forward-thinking predecessors, alums like Wu and the faculty and students who currently populate the research labs on campus, NJIT’s legacy as a premier technological university will continue to thrive.
“And,” said Kleinrock, “you have an obligation to continue that legacy. The impact will be great in today’s world and tomorrow’s future.”