Written by Eliana Benador
“Technion has a great contribution to make to Israel’s future prosperity, and Israel’s prosperity cannot but be of great benefit to other countries, as well.” Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Terrorists once again struck the tiny nation of Israel last week. My thoughts went to the innocent victims as I wondered what to choose as the topic for my article at my “Goodwill Israel” column.
I decided that from the ashes of the pain and the suffering inflicted, I was going to write an article about a historic, great, amazing and unique institution, The Technion. (Right: Kinetic Obelisc designed by Santiago Calatrava)
The Technion is the first university in Israel. Its foundations were laid in Haifa in 1912 and it was founded in 1924.
The Old Technion building now houses the MadaTech, the Israel National Museum of Science, whose main entrance is still graced by the palm tree planted by Albert Einstein during his visit in 1923.
Sixteen students attended the opening of the Technion in 1924 at its original location in the Hadar HaCarmel neighborhood of Haifa.
Before opening, the administration argued fiercely about what language they would teach classes in. German was initially considered, but opposition from the younger generations contributed to choosing Hebrew, the language of Israel.
And the first undergraduate class consisted of 17 students in two areas of instruction: Civil Engineering and Architecture.
The Technion became an important motivating force in a full range of innovations, including military technological solutions, electrical systems and telephone networks; from the establishment of traditional industries, the Israeli high tech industry up to the development of solutions for housing as well as the infrastructure throughout the country.
Currently, the Technion is on a campus in a small city overlooking Haifa. It has 85 buildings, housing 17 faculties, including research institutes which count among the most advanced worldwide. It has two major new interdisciplinary centers, one in nanotechnology and the other in life sciences. It also owns a super-computer with a capability to execute research at the most advanced levels.
The magnificent campus also includes dorms, the largest and most sophisticated sports complex in the country, cultural labs, a bank, mini-markets, child care center, a medical clinic and more, for more than 13,000 students. A third of the students are women, and Technion has a higher rate than the national average of women per faculty.
The Technion has been involved in thousands of impressive projects, including the following:
Last April, Technion researchers resolved a 133-year old theory when they discovered the nature of the nanometer-scale layers between materials. They thereby added a crucial addition to Gibb’s theory of 1878, which partially explained what happens when different materials come into contact and found that the layers have both solid and liquid properties; the discovery has far-ranging implications for improving the bonding of different materials.
(Left:Sara and Moshe Zisapel Nanoelectronics Center)
A nanometer is a unit of spatial measurement that is 10-9 meter, or one billionth of a meter. It is commonly used in nanotechnology, also called molecular manufacturing , and is a branch of engineering that deals with the design and manufacture of extremely small electronic circuits and mechanical devices built at the molecular level of matter.
In lay terms, this scientific discovery by Technion researchers has technological implications, as it enables scientists to improve the resilience of the bond between ceramic materials and metals, two types of materials that “do not like” to come into contact. Examples include the join of missile domes to the missile body, the connection between metal conducting wires and chips in computers, and the protective ceramic coating on blades of jet engines.
In 2011, the Israel student team to the International Physics Olympics held in Bangkok, Thailand, returned to Israel with five medals in their luggage: two gold, two silver, and one bronze. At the end of the Olympics Israel was ranked 13th among the 84 countries that participated in the event considered to be one of the most important in the field of science.
The competitors are high school students who undergo rigorous selection and intensive preparation for many weeks at the Technion in Haifa, which is the body responsible for preparing and training them for the Olympics. Dr. Eli Raz, a visiting professor in physics at the Technion and the head of the Department of Physics and Optical Engineering at ORT Braude College and responsible for preparing the delegation, said that “the uniqueness of the Israeli team was that we were able to solve questions in a non-standard way and manner. Our guys used their creativity, which is our weapon...”
Prof. Lior Gepstein of the Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine is the winner of the prestigious European Cardiology Society Award for 2011. The prize is awarded each year to two young researchers for “exceptional achievements in the first stages of their scientific careers.” Prof. Thomas Taam of Denmark will receive the award alongside Prof. Gepstein.
Prof. Gepstein studies stem cells and recently succeeded in creating in his lab, using stem cells, a unique model for research and treatment of heart disease leading to fatal heart beat disruption.
The Shanghai Ranking was established in 2003 to improve the level of Chinese universities. The comprehensive Chinese research examines 1000 universities, including the top 500, and ranks them on excellence. The ranking is based on objective criteria and numerous data, including the number of Nobel Prize and other prestigious award winners, the number of scientific papers published in the leading journals – Nature and Science and other performance relative to the size of the university.
This week, the Computer Science at the Technion was ranked 15th among the 500 leading universities in the world by the well-respected Shanghai Ranking. It also won 42nd place among 75 in engineering and technology.
Both rankings were accorded by the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which has measured the performance of top universities worldwide for the last nine years.
Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie said that the high ranking of the Technion in the computer field explains the high position of the state of Israel in global high tech. “... our graduates .... lead the high tech sector that is moving Israel’s economy forward,” he said.
In the last two decades, Technion students have largely worked in the country’s high tech industry -which in turn is responsible for 51% of Israel’s industrial exports.
In all, 25% of Technion graduates are CEOs or deputy general managers, 21% hold other types of management positions, 10% are team leaders and 12.6% are involved in R&D.
And, 59 out of 121 Israeli companies whose shares are traded on NASDAQ were established or are managed by Technion graduates.
Professor Lavie is the leading authority in Israel for his pioneering studies in sleep resesarch and sleep disorders. He is known for being the father of sleep medicine and research in Israel and for all of that, he has been awarded the prestigious EMET Prize, also for introducing changes in sleep and work routines in the country -and for contributing to the quality of life of people both in Israel and worldwide.
And, it goes on.
I am sure my readers will understand the pride in my Jewish heart for the resilience and brilliance of these amazing scientists from Israel, one of the tiny giants in the world, who thrive everyday in finding more and better ways to make life for mankind worthwhile living.
Goodwill Ambassador Eliana Benador is a national and international global strategist and the former CEO and founder of BenadorAssociates. You can find Eliani at the Goodwill Ambassador or at her website, on Twitter, at her political page on Facebook and her business page on Facebook.