November 24, 2008 Ofakim Program for Training Engineers from the Periphery Opens at Technion

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The Ofakim program has gotten underway at the Technion in the science-technology track and is scheduled to spread to other Israeli universities in the future. The new program will enable residents of the periphery, demobilized soldiers, those lacking acceptance criteria for universities – to acquire an academic education in science and technology.

The Ministry of Defence, through the fund and unit for directing demobilized soldiers, locates suitable demobilized IDF soldiers from communities in the periphery and directs them to the preparatory program, which will prepare them to be accepted into every faculty in the Technion, even if they do not have a matriculation certificate.

Program participants will receive full financial support, including tuition and living stipends. The program is being organized, in its initial stages, by the Technion and financed through the Ministry of Defence’s fund and unit for directing demobilized soldiers, the Association for the Advancement of Education, the Rashi Foundation, the Gruss Foundation and the Israel Association of Electronics and Software.

The program’s initiator is Yehuda Zisapel, president of the RAD-BYNET Group and chairman of the Israel Association of Electronics and Software Industries. “Ofakim’s vision is to add professional and quality manpower from the periphery to hi-tech industries and thus to contribute to closing the social and economic gap between the periphery and the center of the country,” he says. “Leading talented young men and women to academic studies in engineering and the sciences, through economic, academic and social support – will enable them to build better futures for themselves and, at the same time, will strengthen the Israeli economy, the periphery and assist in closing the Israeli social gap. We believe, that upon completion of their studies, there will once again be tremendous demand for engineers and scientists and that advanced industries will continue to be the engine pulling the Israeli economy.”

It is the intention of the program’s heads to turn to state authorities for assistance in financing expansion of the program to the national level with 1,500 graduates a year.

The opening ceremony of Ofakim took place on Thursday, November 27, 2008 at the Technion’s Center for Pre-University Studies. Technion President, Prof. Yitzhak Apeloig; the director general of the Ministry of Defence, Pinchas Buchris and the heads of all the foundations and organizations participating in the project all took part in the ceremony.

November 23, 2008 Why Does a Pitcher’s Curveball Curve?

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Researchers at the Technion have become the first to observe the Magnus effect in light, potentially opening a new avenue for controlling light in nanometer-scale optical devices. In addition, their experimental discovery provides a more precise way to study important physical behavior that until now could only be observed in relatively complex, messy condensed matter systems. Their work will be published in the December 2008 issue of Nature Photonics.

The research was carried out by Prof. Erez Hasman, Dr. Konstantin Y. Bliokh, Dr. Vladimir Kleiner and Avi Niv from the Micro and Nanooptics Laboratory, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

The Magnus effect can be observed in a wide range of systems. It describes, for example, the sideways force a spinning ball feels as it travels through the air, which explains why a baseball pitcher’s curveball curves, and why a badly hit golf ball slices. Light waves, which are made up of massless particles called photons, have their own version of spin. Light’s spin depends on whether its polarization, or direction of wave vibration, rotates in one direction or in the opposite direction as it travels. The Magnus effect for light (also called the Spin Hall Effect) causes the light to deflect due to the interaction between the light’s spin and shape of the light’s trajectory.

Prof. Erez Hasman and his collaborators detailed a unified theory of this effect, and also made the first experimental observation of it. The potential extensions of their work are wide ranging. “Utilizing this effect in photonic and nano-optic devices may lead to the development of a promising new area of research- Spinoptics,” says Prof. Hasman. “The hope is that we will be able to control light in all-optical nanometer scale devices in ways that were impossible before.”

They also believe that their ongoing work can provide results that are useful to other fields of physics. According to Prof. Hasman, “There are a number of systems where the spin of a particle couples with its trajectory in high-energy and condensed matter physics. The math is the same in all cases, but experimentally it’s very hard to understand what’s going on. Our experimental system offers a new way to get at some of these fundamental questions clearly and precisely.”

October 24, 2008 Technion Ranked 29th in the World in Engineering and 31st in Natural Science in 2008

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The Technion ranked 29th on the list of the best technological-engineering universities in the world and 31st among leading universities in the natural sciences. This is a rise of five places in the natural sciences and a fall of four in engineering. In overall ranking, the Technion took 109th place in the world, a dramatic rise of 122 places compared to last year. There are thousands of universities in the world dealing with these fields. The world ranking was carried out by the London Times Higher Education Supplement, which analyzes the standing of institutions of higher education in the world.

In the Times ranking, the Technion outranks in engineering a number of well-known universities, among them most of the European and American universities including Purdue (33rd place) Yale (58th place in engineering and 2nd place overall), Ecole Polytechnique in France (31st in engineering), etc. The list of the best universities in the world in engineering is topped by American universities – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Berkeley, Stanford and California Institute of Technology (Caltech). In the natural sciences, the Technion is ahead of Johns Hopkins University (45th place in engineering and 13th overall), New York University (53rd place), all the German universities, including the prestigious Heidelberg University and Munich University, the Dutch universities, the Italian universities, etc.

This is the fifth year that the London Times has conducted a world ranking of universities. The criteria according to the Times for determining a university’s ranking are: ranking by academics from other universities (40%), ranking by employers of graduates (10%), faculty-student ratio (20%), number of research publications (20%), number of foreign lecturers (5%) and number of foreign students (5%).

Technion President, Prof. Yitzhak Apeloig, expressed his great satisfaction with the high ranking of the Technion among the best technological-engineering-science universities in the world and with its dramatic rise in overall ranking. “We have attained this standing despite sharp cuts in government funding to the Technion in particular and to higher education in general,” he said. “The ranking expresses the great esteem to which the Technion is held by other universities around the world, recognition by employers of the high level of Technion graduates employed by them and our high level of research. Thanks to our Technion Friends around the world and recently also due to the help of our Technion graduates and Friends in Israel, who in the last few years have generously contributed to the Technion, we have succeeded in recruiting talented and promising young faculty members, establishing the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute and the Zisapel Nanoelectronics Center, as well as the Lorry I. Lokey Interdisciplinary Center for Life Sciences and Engineering and launching other large research programs. All these have made a significant contribution to raising the Technion’s world ranking.”

The President warned that if there is no immediate change in government policy with respect to higher education, the Technion will be in danger of falling off the list of leading universities in the future. “This will have serious repercussions on Israel’s economy in general and on the technological sector in particular,” he said. “I hope that the government will understand that the Israel’s future depends on higher education and will implement the recommendations of the Shochat Committee, will return to the Technion and the higher education system the monies cut in recent years and will put education at the top of national priorities. If this happens,” added Prof. Apeloig, “the Technion’s excellent faculty members and students have the talent and ability to put the Technion in the top ten of the leading technological universities in the world.”

October 2008

June 13, 2007 Making Water from Thin Air

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news_id8An architect pursuing a Ph.D. at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and his colleague have devised a low-tech way to collect dew from the air and turn it into fresh water. Their invention recently won an international competition seeking to make clean, safe water available to millions around the world.

The brainchild of Technion Architecture and Building Planning grad student Joseph Cory and his colleague Eyal Malka, “WatAir,” is an inverted pyramid array of panels that collects dew from the air and turns it into fresh water in almost any climate.

Inspired by the dew-collecting properties of leaves, one 315 sq ft unit can extract a minimum of 48 liters of fresh water from the air each day. Depending on the number of collectors used, an unlimited daily supply of water could be produced even in remote and polluted places.

According to Cory, WatAir can be easily incorporated into both rural and urban landscapes because it has a relatively small base. Its vertical and diagonal design utilizes gravity to increase the collection areas. The panels are flexible and easy to collapse when not in use, and provide shelter from rain and heat and play areas for children.

“WatAir is a wonderfully simple concept which draws its inspiration from nature,” said competition judge Jo da Silva. “This is a simple and effective idea using tried and tested technology.”

The project was selected from 100 entries from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia as the winner of the “drawing water challenge” sponsored by Arup – a global firm of designers, engineers, planners and business consultants specializing in innovative and sustainable design.

Geotectura and Malka Architects, the respective architectural studios of Cory and Malka, are located in Haifax.

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is Israel’s leading science and technology university. Home to the country’s winners of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, it commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, architecture, materials engineering, aerospace and medicine. The majority of the founders and managers of Israel’s high-tech companies are alumni. Founded over 60 years ago, the Canadian Technion Society has been one of the university’s most reliable and prolific supporters, having raised upwards of $70 million to date.

May 17, 2007 Technion Protecting Water from Biological and Chemical Terrorism

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Schechter, Ostfeld & Kashi
Schechter, Ostfeld & Kashi

NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is financing interdisciplinary research being conducted at Technion’s Grand Water Research Institute.

The Technion-led project examines ways to protect water supply systems against biological or chemical terrorism and is the first research of its kind in Israel. The project’s main focus is to eliminate terror threats against water systems.

Using a wide-range of Technion expertise in the fields of civil and environmental engineering, chemistry, and biotechnology, Technion scientists have integrated mathematical models to determine the ideal placement of monitoring stations with advanced technology to identify and neutralize chemical and biological contaminants.

“It’s become apparent that water distribution systems in the US, Israel and the rest of the world’s developed nations are totally exposed terrorist attacks,” relates Professor Israel Schechter of Technion’s Schulich Faculty of Chemistry. “We are talking about the exposure of numerous, large systems – it’s just impossible to have guards protecting all of them.”

The United States government agrees with Schechter’s assessment. A committee of experts studied the problem and presented recommendations to the US Congress. In light of this, Congress assigned the equivalent of Canadian $663 Million towards solving this problem.

In his initial thoughts, Professor Schechter was convinced that a chemical terror attack on water supplies would be very difficult to carry-out because of the incredible volume of poison required to contaminate even a small water supply. It wasn’t until he shifted his thinking that he realized the imminent threat.

“I tried to think like a terrorist and then I discovered a way in which only a handful of a certain type of poison could be put into water sources and cause mass human fatalities despite the dilution factor. Therefore, I began to develop a device that can detect chemical poisoning of water and neutralize it.”

In light of the project’s importance, NATO, along with Technion’s Grand Water Research Institute and the Institute for Future Security Research, as well as the Israel Water Commission, decided to finance its research and development together.

Professor Yechezkel Kashi of Technion’s Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering is currently working on methods of rapid identification of pathogenic bacteria in water – such as cholera. Based on the recognition of DNA sequences, Professor Kashi and his group at Technion have succeeded in identifying DNA sequences that represent a wide variation of bacterial strains. They have gone a step further and developed technology based on these sequences that can eventually be used to accurately identify a multitude of bacteria present in water supplies.

“This gives us the ability to determine the identity of specific bacteria,” he explains. “We are now developing a scanner that is rapid, specific and sensitive in identifying specific bacteria. The development is being carried out in cooperation with Professor David Walt of Tufts University in Boston.”

The question of where to eventually place Professor Kashi’s scanner and Professor Schechter’s monitoring and neutralizer facility to detect and combat terror threats on water supplies was solved by Dr. Avi Ostfeld of Technion’s Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“Water supply systems are built over tens, sometimes hundreds, of kilometers,” says Dr. Ostfeld. “They are made up of pipes, tanks, pumping units and consumer connections. It is impossible to physically protect all of them. Therefore, they are more vulnerable to intentional intrusion of contaminants.”

Dr. Ostfeld, who initiated the project and manages it at Technion, built a mathematical model that simulates water flow, pressure, and contaminant movement in a water system for the 100,000 water lines of the city of Tel Aviv. This was accomplished in cooperation with Engineer David Jackman, director of the Water and Sewage Division of the Tel Aviv municipality and Professor Kevin Lansey of the University of Arizona. In accordance with the model, a decision will be made as to where in the water supply system the monitoring station will be placed.

The Tel Aviv project, which is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2008, has been budgeted for Canadian $450,000.

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is Israel’s leading science and technology university. Home to the country’s winners of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, it commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, architecture, materials engineering, aerospace and medicine. The majority of the founders and managers of Israel’s high-tech companies are alumni. Founded over 60 years ago, the Canadian Technion Society has been one of the university’s most reliable and prolific supporters, having raised upwards of $70 million to date.

May 17, 2007

April 9, 2007 Chag Sameach! Your Seder plate will never look the same again!

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news_id7As we prepare to gather with family and friends to share the Passover story, we need look no further than the Seder table to see how far we have come since the time of Moses.

As is our tradition to retell the story of Jews being freed from slavery, Professor Moussa Youdim’s research on the “Multifunctional Activities of Green Tea Catechins in Neuroprotection” will help us ensure that we always remember the story.

At our table…

Salt Water:  Technion Scientists are leading the world in water desalination efforts. Over the years and today, Technion has set the nation’s agenda where water is concerned. Prof. Raphael Semiat and Prof. David Hasson, among others in the Grand Water Research Institute (GWRI), are sought after both locally and internationally for their expertise.

Desalination experts from Technion, graduates and faculty alike, have helped Israel’s IDE Technologies, a major global leader in desalination, to build the world’s largest seawater Reverse Osmosis desalination plant in Ashkelon.

Maror:  (Bitter Herbs) Professor Joseph Miltz of Technion’s Faculty of Food Engineering and Biotechnology demonstrated the power of Basil to act as a layer of anti-microbial protection in packaging food.

When incorporated into plastic wrap, Basil extracts enhanced food safety, slowing the growth of eight types of lethal bacteria. Experiments showed the wrapping extended shelf life of cheese and most likely of meats, fish, baked goods, fruits and vegetables. Using “Maror” technology, your family could be feasting on Seder leftovers throughout the entire holiday!

Charoset:  This sweet, jam-like mixture symbolizes the bricks made by Jewish slaves and helps us remember the labour and construction work of our ancestors. Technion scientist Dr. Dina Wasserman of Technion’s National Building Research Institute says, “to understand the past is key to the future.”

Her team provides engineering solutions using authentic materials and nondestructive methods to study degradation, corrosion and weathering processes of historical and cultural heritage sites. In doing so, the analysis helps other scientists preserve sites, like the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount, for future generation of visitors.

Matzah:  The bread of affliction reminds us how Jewish slaves fled from bondage with little time to properly prepare even the most basic foods. Today, the “Atidim” Project, a joint project between the IDF and Technion continues to advance talented students from peripheral areas and underprivileged families, most recently those of Druze and Ethiopian descent, and helps them receive an academic education in science and engineering.

Another project – NOAM – provides the opportunity for outstanding Arab high school students. Speaking on behalf of the students at NOAM’s opening ceremony in November 2006, Rana Zahran, a student from Iblin in the Galilee, said the project is a unique opportunity for Arab youth. “We are lucky that there are people who are thinking about how to unite us instead of how to divide us. If we would all work together, we could reach unprecedented new heights,” she said.

Chazereth:  OrganiTech, a Technion Incubator company, pioneered a robotic lettuce growing operation. The revolutionary method automatically grows fresh vegetables efficiently and economically, everyday throughout the year, without the use of dangerous pesticides.

Using the proven hydroponic growing technology, the automatic Grow-tech 2000 is fully computerized. All planting and harvesting us performed by robots based on intelligent monitoring and sensor programs.

Four Cups of Wine:  While we drink a cup of wine at four points in the Seder to remember the four redemptions promised and fulfilled by G_d, Technion Professor Miki Aviram’s research clinically proved that red wine reduces cholesterol oxidation and attenuates arteriosclerosis, the major cause of morbidity and mortality in the Western world. L’chaim!

As is our tradition to retell the story of Jews being freed from slavery, Professor Moussa Youdim’s research on the “Multifunctional Activities of Green Tea Catechins in Neuroprotection” will help us ensure that we always remember the story.

Passover:  Today, when we look to the sky we can think of the Gurwin TechSat II – the Technion student-designed satellite – orbiting the globe, which passes over the Earth at an altitude of over 800 Kilometres. Professor Moshe Guelman, Technion’s Asher Space Research Institute director, says “at this rate, the Technion satellite will remain in space for hundreds of years, as a reminder of Technion activity for generations to come.”

For now and for the future, may you and your families share a wonderful holiday.

Chag Pesach Sameach to all our friends, from the Canadian Technion Society

February 21, 2007 A $1 Million Gift for Technion from the Azrieli Foundation

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Mr. David J. Azrieli
Mr. David J. Azrieli

The Azrieli Foundation announced that it is making a $1 million gift to the Faculty of Architecture at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in honour of the 85th birthday of the world-renowned architect, developer and philanthropist, David J. Azrieli, Canadian Technion Society Honourary Life National President.

“As a professional David Azrieli has been the driving force behind the development of innovative projects in Tel Aviv, Be’er Sheva and Jerusalem as well as across North America,” explained Arnold M. Ludwick, President of the Canadian Technion Society. “From the beginning – before his business success – David has been a symbol of tzedakah, giving back to the community by devoting considerable time, energy and financial support to worthy causes. A key focus has been institutions of higher learning including Concordia, McGill, Carleton, Yeshiva University in New York, Tel-Aviv University and of course Technion.”

David Azrieli’s experiences as a student at the Technion in the 1940’s clearly influenced his decision to contribute generously. “The years I spent studying architecture at Technion in the 1940’s were not only formative to my career,” explained Mr. Azrieli, “they provided a new stability and a sense of family after the losses I sustained in the war. On the occasion of my 85th birthday, I am delighted to give back to Technion’s School of Architecture. I do not think it an exaggeration to say that I am what I am today thanks to Technion.”

David Joshua Azrieli was born in 1922 in Makow, Poland. At the start of World War Two in September 1939, he left for Russia where he managed to stay one step ahead of the Nazis for three years. The story of how he survived and made his way to British-mandate Palestine in late 1942 is chronicled in his memoir, One Step Ahead, (published in 1999 by Yad Vashem). After arriving in pre-state Israel, David worked on a kibbutz, studied architecture at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, joined the Haganah, served as an officer in the Seventh Brigade during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, and participated in the liberation of Jerusalem.

David Azrieli arrived in Canada in 1954 and two years later began his building career with the modest construction of four houses in a Montreal suburb. Today, his unparalleled success in the building trade is measured in the imaginative office buildings, high-rise residences, office towers and shopping centres he has built in Canada, the United States and Israel. In each case, he conceives the idea, designs the plan, and builds the building which then remains under his ownership and management. Among his innovations is the construction of the first enclosed shopping centre in Israel, the Canion Ayalon in Tel-Aviv, which sparked a consumer revolution that has changed the way Israelis shop, products and services are merchandised, and properties are developed.

Over the years, David Azrieli has received many awards and honours. In 1984 he was awarded the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian order, in recognition for his contributions to the economic, social and cultural development of the National Capital region. In 1999, he was named “Chevalier” in the Ordre Nationale du Quebec. In 2002, he was invested as a “Ne’eman” or Honorary Trustee of the City of Jerusalem.

This is not the first time Mr. Azrieli has contributed to Technion.   In 1984 he endowed The Azrieli Chair in Architecture and Town Planning. He served as National President of the Canadian Technion Society for many years and is currently the organization’s Honorary Life National President. He also sits on the International Board of Governors of the Technion. In 1985, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the Technion.

Mr. Azrieli also supports many other causes in education in both Canada and Israel for which he has been recognized. In addition to the Technion, he holds honorary Doctorates from Concordia University, Yeshiva University and Carleton University. He sits on the Board of Governors of Tel-Aviv University and the Shenkar School of Engineering, and is a member of the Board of the Israel Museum.    CJN STORY  l  TECHNION FAST FACTS

October 18, 2006 Seymour Schulich donates landmark gift of US $20 million to the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

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Mr. Seymour Schulich
Mr. Seymour Schulich

The President of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Prof. Yitzhak Apeloig, and the National President of the Canadian Technion Society, Mr. Arnold Ludwick, today announced a landmark US $20 million gift from Seymour Schulich to the Technion to train future scientists and scholars in the field of chemistry.

Seymour Schulich’s gift will enable the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry to substantially upgrade its current research infrastructure as well as support annual undergraduate scholarships, graduate, post-graduate, and post-doctoral fellowships; and visits by internationally renowned scholars in chemistry.

Seymour Schulich, Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist, has donated one of the largest gifts in the history of the Technion and Israeli higher education. In recognition of Schulich’s transformational gift, the Technion has renamed its highly ranked Faculty of Chemistry to the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry.

Prof. Yitzhak Apeloig, an internationally renowned chemist, former Dean of the Faculty, and now President of the Technion, announced the new gift from the Technion’s Mount Carmel campus in Haifa. “We are honored that Seymour Schulich selected the Technion to make his mark in Israel. The Schulich gift will propel the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry to the forefront of chemistry teaching and research in the world. This contribution to the Technion and the State of Israel will enable the Technion to attract and support the best faculty members from Israel and abroad. These young faculty members will, in turn, draw the most promising graduate students, who will serve as teaching assistants to elite undergraduate students. We are confident that the name Schulich will soon become the standard for excellence in chemistry both in Israel and abroad.

The Technion is one of the world’s most respected scientific-technological universities and centers of applied research. Profs. Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover of the Technion’s Faculty of Medicine were awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discovery of ubiquitin mediated protein degradation in living cells. Some 13,000 students from 35 countries are enrolled at the Technion.

The Technion’s Faculty of Chemistry grants bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees and is considered Israel’s leading center for teaching and research in the field. Over the past decade, faculty members have successfully competed for and secured over $20 million in research grants, registered close to 60 patents, and established seven start-up companies. Faculty members have published more than 2,100 papers in prestigious scientific journals such as Nature, Science, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Graduates are pursuing careers in academia, research institutes, and the private sector, and play a key role in Israel’s chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Faculty members hold leading positions both in academia and industry.

Over the past two decades, Schulich has donated millions of dollars to universities and health care centers in Canada and the United States. His gifts include the Schulich School of Business at York University; the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario; the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary; and the Schulich School of Music at McGill University.

In paying tribute to Schulich’s generosity, Mr. Arnold Ludwick, National President of the Canadian Technion Society said,  “Seymour Schulich is an extraordinary philanthropist who demonstrates a rare combination of vision and commitment. He initiated this gift both out of recognition of Technion’s leadership in the advancement of science and technology and to concretely demonstrate the importance to assist Israel, particularly at this crucial time in her history. We are confident that this unprecedented gift will serve as an inspiration to others to boost their support of Israel.”

The Schulich Faculty of Chemistry will be formally dedicated at a ceremony on the Technion’s Mount Carmel campus later this year in the presence of the Schulich family, the leadership of the Canadian Technion Society, and leading figures from the worlds of science, technology, and education.