A gift from the family of Joe Forgione, founder and principal of JMF Properties, is helping fund the Forgione Family Engineering Center at Don Bosco Prep, as depicted in this rendering. — Courtesy: Don Bosco
By Joshua Burd
Don Bosco Prep has announced the start of construction for a new robotics and engineering learning center at its Ramsey campus, thanks in large part to the support of developer Joe Forgione.
According to the Catholic school, the Forgione family is among two donors helping to fund the project. The gifts will result in what’s known as the Forgione Family Engineering Center, which will house two classrooms and lab space, along with a large multipurpose area and flexible space for the school community that is made possible by the support of the second, anonymous donor.
The Forgione Family Engineering Center, which will help enhance and grow Don Bosco’s hands-on, project-based robotics and engineering program, will be available for students at the start of the 2022-23 school year.
“Having this cutting-edge technology and open space environment gives us the ability to compete on a collegiate level,” said Robert Fazio, president of Don Bosco. “The large, open space allows us the opportunity to not only afford the growth of the robotics/engineering program for our students, but also to transform the area into a collaborative learning environment for the entire community. We are eternally grateful to our donors who have made this possible for our current and future students.”
The center will occupy the third floor of the school’s Savio Hall, providing students with panoramic views of its 36-acre campus and the nearby Ramapo Mountains.
“Don Bosco Prep means a lot to our family,” said Forgione, the founder and principal of JMF Properties in Whippany. “We are grateful for the opportunity to support such an innovative, forward-thinking project that will provide the best in science and engineering education to students for many years to come.”
In announcing the project, the all-boys school highlighted its distinctive four-year engineering curriculum. The offerings in robotics and engineering consist of what’s known as the Engineering Pathway, robotics and engineering elective courses and an engineering club.
Don Bosco Prep also has two varsity teams that participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition, the most prestigious high school robotics competition in the world, as well as a junior varsity FIRST Robotics Competition team and three freshman FIRST Tech Challenge Teams, according to a news release. The school cited the impressive growth of its robotics program, which initially involved 3 percent of its student body to 20 percent in the current academic year.
The new center will allow the school to acquire more cutting-edge equipment with which to teach its students, while serving as an additional draw for students in the future.
“With the completion of the Forgione Family Engineering Center, we will be even better positioned to prepare our young men to be transformational leaders and inspiring innovators in the 21st century and beyond,” said Fr. Abraham Feliciano, director at Don Bosco.
The school also noted that it’s forging a partnership with the New Jersey Institute of Technology to assist in the expansion of the robotics and engineering program while enhancing its curriculum.
“Our partnership with NJIT will create college credit opportunities for our students and it will put them at the forefront of the minds of the leading engineering professionals in our state,” said Joseph Azzolino, principal of Don Bosco Prep.