This Passover, Celebrating the Technion’s Freedom to Think Differently

There are few places that can capture the joys of Passover – a festival of freedom – quite like the Technion. In the University’s latest video that has gone viral, a team of Mechanical Engineering and Architecture students prepares for their upcoming Seder by exercising a freedom that goes to the heart of the Technion’s mission: to think way outside the box. Their Rube Goldberg machine – powered by dominoes, matzo stacks, a broom, a cell phone, and a range of other items – offers an entirely new take on the Ten Plagues and a good laugh to go along with it.

Of course, the premium that the Technion places on the freedom to imagine has produced much more than clever videos and creative contraptions. This ethos – the University’s supreme confidence that people can accomplish extraordinary things if given the skills, knowledge, and opportunity to think differently – has advanced a steady stream of life-saving innovations.

By joining with the Technion to make big bets on its people, our organization has helped to build the University into a world-class institution – and change the world in the process. On every visit, I see firsthand the remarkable return on our investments in these great minds. I find myself asking, over and over: how did they even think to come up with that?

Take the work of Professor Avi Schroeder – a brilliant, young scientist who came to the Technion in 2012 through the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation Leaders in Science and Technology Faculty Recruitment program. This new video illustrates the method that Prof. Schroeder’s research team is pioneering to test drugs inside a tumor using nanoparticles. In effect, his team is turning a patient’s body into a treatment laboratory. This could eventually enable physicians to tailor specific drugs for each and every person, eliminating the many harsh side effects of treatments for diseases like cancer.

Or look at Assaf Glazer – a Technion alum and post-doc in the Runway Program at the Jacob-Technion Cornell Institute. His new company – Nannit – is developing a smart baby monitor that can alert parents if a child is in danger, benchmark a child’s development and screen for potential abnormalities. I can only imagine how many more restful nights I would have enjoyed as a parent, if I’d had access to this product when my three children were infants.

Or examine one of the thousands of game-changing startups founded by Technion alumni – companies like Sesame Enable, which has created mobile technology that allows the disabled to use ordinary smartphones. This transformative advancement recently won them a $1 million Powerful Answers prize from Verizon.

Whether we are providing support for labs or buildings, scholarships or fellowships, research or faculty chairs – our organization is driven by a belief that the Technion’s essential ingredient is the ability to attract, retain, and create extraordinarily gifted thinkers.

This Passover, as we reflect on what it means to be free, I’ll be contemplating the central role that the ATS can play in empowering the Technion’s extraordinary people with the complete freedom to fully pursue their life’s work, alongside the most talented colleagues, in the best facilities, and with the most ambitious goals in their sights. By continuing to cultivate Israel’s great reservoir of human capital, we can stretch our philanthropic dollars in remarkable ways – and advance solutions that build a much better world.

Wishing you and your family a very happy Passover.



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