$1.4 million federal grant launches NJIT Forensic Science Initiative

NEWARK, NJ — Federal funding supporting New Jersey’s “Opportunity Meets Innovation” higher education challenge will introduce Newark high school students to forensic science as a pathway to college — and a STEM education — under a new program from New Jersey Institute of Technology.

The NJIT Forensic Science Initiative is backed by $1.4 million in seed money from the U.S. Department of Education, which the state is distributing in the second round of its Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund.

FSI will welcome its first students in the summer of 2022 with a five-week intensive experience at NJIT, featuring class work, lab work, field research, tutoring and college preparation counseling. That fall, the students will start an introductory course that includes working with a professional on a capstone research project and attending a forensic conference. At the same time, students will continue to receive tutoring and counseling through NJIT’s TRiO program; TRiO is a series of educational-opportunity programs designed to help low-income, first-generation and/or disabled Americans enter college. Also, NJIT will help high school teachers become certified to teach forensic science in their own schools. 

FSI complements other NJIT efforts designed to introduce Newark high school students to college, including its Math Success Initiative and Honors Scholars Program. Collectively, they seek to increase the number of Newark residents who attend NJIT and ultimately pursue careers in STEM.

“We feel an obligation to truly prepare students for success, not just review their admission submissions,” NJIT President Joel S. Bloom said. “Newark Public Schools students will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this initiative by being prepared to enter and succeed at NJIT and go on to careers in the STEM fields of their choosing.”

NJIT launched its Bachelor of Science offering in forensic science in 2018, becoming the first university in the state to offer such a program. The fast-growing field includes jobs such as medical examiner, crime scene investigator, crime lab analyst, digital forensic examiner, forensic ballistic expert and bloodstain pattern analyst. Enrollment in the program has grown three-fold since its inception, according to its director, David Fisher, a former criminalist.