Historic photo of Newark's former Central High School

NEWARK, NJ-This city’s 102-year-old former Central High School building will be converted into a new facility for the New Jersey Institute of Technology using $86 million in higher education construction bonds. The plan for new research, design and teaching space was formally unveiled Tuesday by state education officials.

The seven-story high school, which NJIT acquired in 2011, will be renovated and rebuilt to create a hub for STEM disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The project is one of 176 that will be funded via a $750 million bond approved by voters last November.  

The STEM center will include a “Center for Innovation and Discovery” with laboratories, design studios and classrooms, according to a release. In addition, a three-floor research complex for biological sciences and a teaching facility for math are part of the plan.

NJIT will pay for part of the $120 million project and already has completed work on the façade and installed new windows, sprinklers and utilities, said NJIT’s Sheryl Weinstein said. It expects to finish the project by 2016.

Gov. Chris Christie administration officials said 269,000 jobs for STEM-trained workers are anticipated to be in place by 2018. NJIT has projected its enrollment will grow by 50%, to 14,200 students, by 2020.

State Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks said the project “is the epitome of smart design and forward-looking thinking. It is the perfect alignment of curriculum with workforce demands.”