The end of 2014 is fast approaching. As we begin to think about New Year’s resolutions – and prepare to gather with friends and family around the glow of the Hanukkah menorah – we look to those sources of light in our lives that bring knowledge and inspiration. For so many across Israel – and around the world – that source of light is the Technion.
During my first seven months as the Executive Vice President of the American Technion Society, it’s been my joy and privilege to witness this impact up close. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to regularly share what I see with you – our friends and supporters – through this blog, which we have termed “American Technion Today.” On this new platform, I will provide updates on the latest developments in our organization – and offer a glimpse into some of the Technion’s many extraordinary achievements, innovations, and people that I come across.
Each visit to the Technion yields new insights and inspiration. So it was last month, as I led a group of new staff members on their first visit to the Haifa campus. We were shown around by a young man, who came to Israel at the age of 3 from the former Soviet Union with his parents. Even though they were engineers, they faced many challenges.
Today, he is a student at the Technion in the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. With great pride and excitement, he spoke to us about his work in the University’s cutting-edge computer labs – and his many opportunities to learn from world-class experts. With a characteristically Israeli sense of optimism and determination, he promised that he would soon add his own successful start-up to Israel’s thriving high-tech economy.
I’m confident that he will realize his dreams, joining the 70 percent of Technion graduates who enter Israel’s high-tech work force – and the 25 percent who have founded their own startup. So will the many other students who shared with us the lights of inspiration and motivation that they find at the Technion – from the ultra-Orthodox medical student who wants to improve health care in his neighborhood, to the Arab and Ethiopian undergraduates that spoke about why their campus is a uniquely safe space for people, who would not interact anywhere else in Israel to work together, live together and build bridges.
The opportunity to take part in the Technion’s vibrant learning environment and laboratory of innovation profoundly changes individual lives – which in turn transforms Israel and the world. When I hear stories from our gifted students, I think about the Technion alumni who once stood in their shoes. I think of high-tech pioneers like Yossi Vardi, who built Israel into a Start-up Nation. I think of the engineering force of Rafael Defense Systems, which developed the Iron Dome. Interacting with students across campus, you can’t help but wonder: Who will be the next Nobel Prize winner? Who will develop the next life-changing medical breakthrough? Who will found the next company, with a multibillion-dollar IPO?
With the university’s new partnerships in China and New York, the unique opportunity to receive a Technion education is no longer limited to those living in Haifa. Just this month, the Jacobs Technion–Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech in New York announced a new two-year Healthier Life degree program designed to catalyze synergy between health-care professionals and technologists. The graduates of this program will be armed with the powerful tools of a Technion education to tackle America’s greatest heath-care challenges – and help us all live healthier lives.
Whether in Haifa or New York, the Technion’s education of each student creates a ripple effect across communities and continents. As the university’s global footprint continues to grow, it’s exciting to imagine how the Technion will spark change in the decades to come. This year, I invite you to join us as we ask that the lights of Hanukkah usher in a better world for all humankind, with the pride and knowledge that our investment in Israel’s greatest institution of science and technology is a powerful source of light that continues to burn brighter with each passing year.