Meet Salman Naqvi: A Stellar Student and a Humanitarian

Salman Naqvi will graduate from NJIT having won a host of honors and awards. Hes one of the brightest students ever to attend NJIT.

Salman Naqvi, a senior majoring in electrical engineering, will graduate in May having won a host of awards and accolades.

The Newark College of Engineering (NCE) recently gave him its two highest awards: the Outstanding Senior in his major and the Outstanding Overall Senior.  

Earlier, Salman also won two national scholarships: a Goldwater scholarship and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Scholarship. He was also named to the USA Today All-USA College Academic Team. He won these honors as a result of research he does at the Center for Solar Terrestrial Research. As part of that research, he designed a system that detects gravity waves in the lower atmosphere of the metropolitan area.  His system could help scientists understand how gravity waves contribute to global climate changes.

Salman, a scholar in the Honors College, is not the first in his family to excel at NJIT. His older brother, Mohammad, graduated from the Honors College in 2009 having also won the Goldwater Scholarship. He too was named to the USA Today All-USA College Academic Team. Mohammad now works as an Electronics Engineer for Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Company.  Salman’s younger brother, Faizan, is a sophomore in the Honors College who also majors in electrical engineering. He has a near perfect GPA and is poised to win the same awards that his older brothers won.

All three Naqvi brothers were born in Pakistan and attended an elite high school there that is affiliated with the Cambridge University in England.  And Cambridge might once again be a part of Salman’s academic life. He has applied to joint master’s degree and doctoral programs in electrical engineering at Stanford, Cambridge and MIT. He’s been accepted at Cambridge and at Stanford and is waiting to hear from MIT. 

In the below interview, Salman discuss his research, his family, and his future plans.

What motivates you to excel academically?
It’s really just a drive to learn, especially in my major, electrical engineering. My high school infused me with intellectual curiosity. And I want to apply what I’ve learned to help solve the serious environmental problems that confront the world now, especially in the developing countries. I have the drive and curiosity to want to do that.

What role does religion play in motivating you?
In the Muslim faith, we are told to make the world better through our actions. The phrase that explains it is, “Become the change you want to see in the world.” Our lives are short and during our short time on earth we should work to improve the world for posterity. Many of my friends make money their priority. And though one can’t deny the need for money, the need to improve the world through research is paramount to me.

You and your brothers are very close. Can you talk about that?
When I first arrived at NJIT, I lived with my older brother, Mohammad. It was so helpful to have someone to study with and share absolute trust. I could ask him stupid questions and not worry.  He helped me focus my studies and my research and helped me apply for scholarships.  And now that he has graduated and is working, I live with my younger brother, Faizan. I do for him what Mohammad did for me. 

You have done a lot at NJIT, but what has given you the most joy?
I recently founded a chapter of the Youth Rotary Club.  It was fun to start the club from scratch and to work on recruiting the directors, drafting the club’s constitution, its logo, the website and registering it locally and internationally.  Right now, along with doing the NJIT Clean up and volunteering at a local food bank, our club members are tutoring fourth graders in Newark. They get so excited, and we have to get as excited about teaching as they are to learn.  It’s very gratifying work.  

When you were recently named Outstanding Senior, you said you were grateful to NJIT? What are you grateful for?
I came here as a freshman with generous scholarships from the Honors College. I was given the chance when I was just a freshman to do solar research with prominent professors. I’ve had great professors and advisers, especially Drs. Gerrard and Bloom, who have taken a personal interest in my intellectual and personal development. I got tremendous leadership opportunities through the Senate, Tau Beta Pi, the Honors Council and the Rotary Club. The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has also always supported me. What more could I have asked for?

Can you talk about your plans for after NJIT?
I have been accepted at Cambridge and Stanford. I’ll attend one of those schools and purse a master’s or a doctorate in electrical engineering or environmental science. After graduate school, I’d like to work as a researcher and at managerial at a national environmental or space center. I hope the research I do will help scientists understand environmental problems and thus help solve them. So again, it’s a matter of having the drive, fueled by my faith and family, to leave a better world behind me.

(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)