Protecting Children in Cars

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Student developers Adam Barhak-right-and Assaf Yitzhak

 Students from Technion’s Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering have developed an inexpensive and simple system to prevent leaving children alone in vehicles

 The advanced system based on machine learning technology was created by Technion undergraduate students Adam Barhak and Assaf Yitzhak under the guidance of doctoral student Ayal Taitler and master’s degree student Dotan Shambi. The system has a number of advantages that are hard to find in existing systems – ease of use, simple installation, highly reliable and the low cost.

Leaving babies and toddlers in cars can have tragic consequences, however the various solutions offered to date, such as continuous monitoring of the weight placed on the car seat are unsatisfactory.

Barhak recalls, “We asked ourselves how was it possible that no effective technological solution has been devised for this problem. We decided that we needed to change direction and embark on a new concept – an advanced and cheap thermal sensor that transfers the data to a system that is able to learn, analyze and rapidly make correct decisions.”

The system developed by the two is based on a relatively simple and inexpensive thermal sensor installed opposite the baby seat in the back of the vehicle. The thermal sensor produces an image of the child and transfers the data to a tiny, inexpensive computer (Raspberry Pi), which processes the information and issues an alert. Additional variables are also assessed to prevent false alarms.

The system activates a sequence of alarms in a closed loop that expands according to time passed and the temperature of the vehicle. First a warning light is turned on, followed by a warning beep and if necessary, notification by text messages to an expanding loop of contacts. The contacts will include rescuers who can remotely open the car doors and windows.

The system is easy to install, the sensor placed on the back of the front seat facing backwards plugs into the cigarette lighter socket and can easily be transferred from one vehicle to another. The entire rear seat is monitored and an additional safety seat is not required.

The students hope that the system can lead to a drastic reduction in the number of small children abandoned in vehicles.

January 7, 2013 GPS for Brain Surgeons

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Arab Christians Reem and Imad Younis met at the Technion and started their own neurosurgery products business in Nazareth.
Arab Christians Reem and Imad Younis met at the Technion and started their own neurosurgery products business in Nazareth.

A line of products trusted by neurosurgeons and neuroscience researchers on six  continents was developed by a Christian-Arab couple in Nazareth, Israel.

January 7, 2013 – Israel21C – By  Abigail Klein Leichman

Arab Christians Reem and Imad Younis met at the Technion and started their own  neurosurgery products business in Nazareth.

Two Arab Nazarenes meet at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, fall  in love, get married and move back home to start a high-tech business financed only by  the sale of their car.

Doesn’t sound like a recipe for success? Well, it worked out fine for Imad and Reem  Younis, whose company Alpha Omega is a world leader in producing pioneering  products for neurosurgery and neuroscience research.

Last June, Alpha Omega was named the 2012 American Israeli Company of the  Year by the American Israeli Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta, Georgia. One of its  international sales and support offices in based in Alpharetta, near Atlanta.

Reem Younis, a civil engineer (her husband’s degree is in electrical engineering),  explains: “Alpha Omega’s knowhow is ‘driving’ safely inside the brain with an electrode,  recording neural activity, stimulating neural tissue, processing and analyzing the data.

“In simple terms, you can look at it as a GPS inside the brain that guides the  neurosurgeon to the required location, where a permanent electrode is implanted. This  treatment is supposed to eliminate disease symptoms, and the patient can go back to  his or her normal life.”

The company’s recording and stimulation tools, which have both FDA (US) and CE  (Europe) approvals, are helpful in two realms. Neuroscientists use them in the lab to  understand more about the human brain, and neurosurgeons use them for treating  patients with a variety of neural disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and dystonia, a  nervous system disorder that causes involuntary muscles contractions and spasms. “In Europe this method is used also for treating people with [clinical] depression,” says Younis.

Meeting future needs Alpha Omega was established in 1993 in Nazareth, a Christian Arab city that recently hosted its first Startup Weekend event. The company’s sophisticated machinery is manufactured locally and sold through offices in the United States, Israel and Germany, as well as by sales representatives in China, Japan and South America.

The mainly Christian and Muslim Arab staff of 35 in Alpha Omega’s Nazareth  headquarters are graduates of the Technion or Tel Aviv University. During Global Entrepreneurship Week in November, Reem and Imad Younis went from one northern Arab municipality to another, explaining their company’s technology and entrepreneurship model to high school students with the goal of encouraging other innovators like themselves.

“We are 20 percent of the [Israeli] population and also need to be 20% of the Israeli  high-tech scene, but we are not,” says Younis. “It’s closer to 1%. Alpha Omega is  about bringing high-tech to Nazareth and giving employment to very highly qualified  engineers.”

She says the company’s equipment is well known around the world for accuracy and  stability. “We are in more than 100 hospitals and more than 500 labs on six continents.  Our main market is, of course, the USA.”

Younis says one reason for the company’s success is its close relationship with  the research community, particularly at the Hadassah University Medical Center in  Jerusalem and other top researchers in Israel and beyond.

“Because Alpha Omega is involved in both the medical and research fields, we hear  about new needs and trends,” says Younis. “We know where the market is leading in  five or 10 years, so that our excellent teams will develop the appropriate systems for  serving humanity and fulfilling the company’s mission.”

January 3, 2013 Sleep Apnea May Offer Unusual Protection for Heart Attack Patients

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Dr. Lena Lavie
Dr. Lena Lavie

January 3, 2013

People who suffer from breathing disorders such as sleep apnea are usually at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. But an intriguing new study from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology scientists suggests that some heart attack patients with these conditions may actually benefit from mild to moderate sleep-disordered breathing.

Apnea and other types of sleep-disordered breathing can boost the numbers and  functions of rare cells that help to repair and build new blood vessels, according to the  Technion’s Dr. Lena Lavie and her colleagues. They say the findings could help predict  which patients are at a greater health risk after a heart attack, and may even suggest  ways to rebuild damaged heart tissue.

Sleep-disordered breathing is characterized by cycles of apnea-induced hypoxia, where  the sleeper experiences a temporary drop in oxygen levels. It occurs in about 5 to 10%  of the general adult population, but is extremely common in patients with cardiovascular  diseases- somewhere between 40-60%. Many studies have shown that sleep apnea  is a risk factor for everything from high blood pressure to chronic heart failure, Lavie  noted. Earlier studies by the Technion scientists suggest apnea increases oxygen-related stress and inflammation in the heart and blood vessels.

The scientists’ study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine  could help resolve a puzzling medical issue. If sleep disordered breathing is associated  with cardiovascular disease, why is it that people who suffer from breathing disorders in  sleep seem to do as well as healthy sleepers after a heart attack?

Lavie, along with researchers Dr. Slava Berger, Prof. Doron Aronson and Prof. Peretz  Lavie, looked for clues to this puzzle in 40 male patients-a mix of healthy sleepers  and those with sleep disordered breathing-who had had a heart attack just a few days  earlier.

Blood samples drawn from these patients revealed that the sleep disordered breathing  patients had markedly higher levels of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), which  give rise to new blood vessels and repair the injured heart, than the healthy sleepers.  They also had higher levels of other growth-promoting proteins and immune cells that  stimulate blood vessel production. The Technion researchers were able to trigger a similar increase in vessel-building activity in vascular cells taken from a second set of twelve healthy men and women, by withholding oxygen from the cells for short periods.  “Indeed, our results point at the  possibility that inducing mild-moderate intermittent hypoxia may have beneficial effects,”  Lena Lavie said.

In an accompanying editorial in the journal, Dr. Leila Kheirandish-Gozal of the University  of Chicago and Prof. Ramon Farré of the Universidad de Barcelona said the Technion  study moves toward reconciling the ideas that apnea can stress the heart but also “pre-condition” it for repair.

Patients with sleep-disordered breathing, they noted “are essentially better prepared to  harness the recruitment of EPCs when [a heart attack] comes knock at the door.”

“Heart attack is a potent stimulus for EPC mobilization,” said Aronson, who is also  affiliated with RAMBAM Medical Center. He also explained that the cells move from  bone marrow to the heart to repair damaged tissue after a heart attack. “The field of cell-based cardiac repair has struggled to find the best approach to enhance recruitment of EPCs to the heart following myocardial infarction,” said Aronson. The Technion findings, he said, suggest that intermittent periods of oxygen  deprivation in heart attack patients “provides a simple and powerful means to boost  EPC mobilization.”

“It should be further investigated if inducing intermittent hypoxia immediately after a  heart attack, in patients without sleep disordered breathing, will also have such an  effect,” Lena Lavie said.

The researchers would like to test this possibility in animal studies, as well as expand  their studies of the underlying mechanisms that activate EPCs and other vessel-building  factors.

January 1, 2013 Where do companies like Rafael Advanced Defense Systems go to recruit the next generation of top Israeli engineers? The Techninon!

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January 1, 2013 – Globes – By Yuval Azulai

Israel’s defense industry may be in the midst of major cutbacks and layoffs but Rafael  Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. is bucking the trend. With the impressive performance  of its Iron Dome short range missile defense system to its credit and the development of  the new Wind Jacket tank protection system, Rafael wants to recruit the next generation  of the country’s top engineers to lead a breakthrough in defense developments at the  government-owned company.

Rafael is striving to hire 150 students at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology in  Haifa. Rafael recruitment manager Nirit Etzion said, “In fact we don’t have to try very  hard. The name Rafael speaks for itself and the students want to work and integrate  into the service of the company because they understand they have an opportunity for  a thrilling career.” On the basis of the previous recruitment drive at the Technion six  months ago, Etzion expects about 1,000 applications.

The Technion students learning the various engineering disciplines will be exposed to  the development programs that Rafael leads including the David’s Sling (Magic Wand)  missile defense system, to intercept medium range threats and fill in the gap between  Iron Dome (short range) and the Arrow (long range).

Etzion said, “All the students that will be hired to work at Rafael will be integrated into  future development ventures. The main activities are in the north of the country so the  jobs we are offering at the Technion are perceived by many students as being very  convenient. The jobs are close to the studies and Rafael provides transport to the plants  and the work is two days a week during vacations and when they complete their studies  at the Technion they have a desirable job waiting for them at Rafael.”

January 1, 2013 Technion to launch one-year English-language MBA program

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As part of their studies, students will be exposed to the start-up scene in Israel through regular meetings with professionals from various hi-tech companies.
As part of their studies, students will be exposed to the start-up scene in Israel through regular meetings with professionals from various hi-tech companies.

JPost – January 1, 2013 – By Danielle Ziri

As part of their studies, students will be exposed to the start-up scene in Israel through  regular meetings with professionals from various hi-tech companies. The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is set to launch a new MBA program, which will focus on start-ups and entrepreneurship and be taught entirely in English, for the next academic year starting in  October 2013.

The full-time one-year program, which will run at the Technion’s new Sarona campus  near Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Center, aims to provide “essential training in management  functions, underscoring the skills needed for entrepreneurs who are interested in  launching their start-up company or promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in their  organizations,” as the mission statement states on the programs’ website.

As part of their studies, students will be exposed to the start-up scene in Israel through  regular meetings with professionals from various hi-tech companies. The program will incorporate hands-on projects, including an internship that students will undertake toward the end of their studies.  “Theory is good, but it’s also very different from what happens in the field itself,” the  managing director of the Technion’s MBA programs, Dr. Avital Regev Siman-Tov, told  The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. Siman-Tov explained that while she deals with all MBA programs, this new one is her “baby.”

“It’s very different from the other comparable programs you can find in Israel, and it’s  different from what the rest of the world offers too,” she said. “We come from the country people call the ‘Start-Up Nation,’ we think we can take  international and Israeli students and teach them to build a start-up from the beginning,”  she continued.

“The Technion is renowned for its strong link to the industry and for all the big hi-tech  companies that its graduates founded.” Siman-Tov noted that the track is “quite exclusive” and that with only 40 spots available in the class, students will be carefully picked and only “very high quality candidates” will be chosen.

Among the admission criteria are letters of recommendation; a personal interview; an  undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 from an accredited university; a GMAT score of at  least 550; as well as a minimum of two years of professional  postgraduate experience.

The curriculum, which Siman-Tov and her team have been constructing for the past six  months, is divided between core theoretical courses, industry seminars and weekly  corporate visits to start-up firms and technological incubators, where students will  attend presentations by entrepreneurs and senior managers. Each visit will also feature  a guided tour of nearby sites in Israel.

Siman-Tov said the Technion targets international students, both Jewish and non-  Jewish, from all over the world. “A lot of them go study these things in the US, for example, but we can give them something else that the US can’t. We may not be Wharton or Kellogg business schools, but we are the ‘Start-Up Nation,’ and we are even cheaper that these top schools.”

Tuition for the program is set at $35,000. In addition, international students receive full  assistance from the school’s social coordinators in everything else surrounding their  move to the country, such as help in opening a bank account or obtaining medical  insurance Siman-Tov also sees the new program as a way to advocate for Israel, in that  students “can be great ambassadors of Israel if they go back home and say they  learned how to create a start-up from the best in Israel.”

“If these students can take the great education that we offer them and do something  with it back in their homelands, we are doing a service to this country,” she added.

December 28, 2012 Gifted Druse Students Get Head Start on Science

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President Peres presides over launch of Technion Sparks Program Photo: Mark Neiman/GPO
President Peres presides over launch of Technion Sparks Program Photo: Mark Neiman/GPO

December 28, 2012

Try as he might, Muhana Fares, the head of the Druse Education Department at the Ministry of Education, was unable to contain the grin of pride that radiated across his face on Thursday.

There was something contagious about it, as it was reflected in the faces of close to  300 other members of the Druse community who had come from the North to  Jerusalem for the launch at the President’s Residence of the Technion Sparks (Nitzanei  HaTechnion) program.

The project is the brainchild of the president’s military aide, Brig.-Gen. Hasson Hasson,  and is conducted under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Education Ministry, Haifa’s Technion- Israel Institute of Technology and Atidim, an organization that promotes education and encourages the pursuit of excellence. It currently enables 200 Druse high school students, who have obtained top grades at school and who have an orientation toward science and technology, to take special courses at the Technion where they are exposed to academia, and stretch the limits of their potential in any  scientific or technological field.

Hasson is the first Druse to serve as a military aide to a president of the state, though  his father-in-law Kamal Mansour has for more than four decades been the adviser on  minorities to a series of presidents from Zalman Shazar to Shimon Peres.

At the mention of Hasson’s name, the crowd beamed and applauded. Peres quipped that on military matters, Hasson is his subordinate, but on civilian matters he is Hasson’s subordinate, especially when it comes to education. “I’m a very  good educational aide-de-camp,” he said. Peres paid tribute to Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar who he said had succeeded in  achieving the impossible. No one in Israel seriously believed that anything could be  done to improve standards of education, said Peres, but Sa’ar had managed to  persuade the OECD to get Israel to commit itself to upgrading its education, and the  outcome has been remarkable.

Sa’ar said that there had been improvement across the board, but no sector of the  population had improved to the same extent as Druse students, who appeared to be  highly motivated. The project was directed not only at Druse, but at gifted students in all  peripheral communities, said Sa’ar, adding that the intention was to keep broadening its  scope. For instance in February, 160 seventh-graders will join the program.

Sheikh Muafek Tarif, the spiritual head of the Druse community, lauded both Peres and  Sa’ar as being men of great vision, as well as everyone else connected with bringing  the project to fruition and thereby opening new horizons for Druse students so that they  can attain higher education and enter into professions in which they can make a  worthwhile contribution to the state.

Within the Druse community, he said, there was consensus among religious and  secular factions that education must be given the top priority. He assured students that they would have the full-hearted backing of the community. Toward this end, an annual NIS 500,000 scholarship fund has been established to enable those students whose families cannot afford higher education. All that he asked of them in return was to maintain Druse traditions and values that primarily consist of helping the needy and bringing honor to the state. There have been Druse graduates from the Technion in the past, but not in great numbers.

The Druse have made a tremendous contribution to national security said Sa’ar, “but  only 13 percent of them have university degrees. We have to change this radically, and  it can be done over a relatively short period.” A Druse Technion alumnus, Yarin Hadad, who has a bachelor’s degree in biology and is studying for a master’s degree in genetics, presented a brief paper on the unique genetics of the Druse as compared with any other ethnic group. The Druse marry only  within the community, she said, and often marry blood relatives.

Samples taken from more than 300 people from 20 Druse villages indicated strong DNA  similarities, she said, adding that the social, historical and demographic structure of the  Druse was closely related to their religion. Six of the outstanding Druse high school students – Yaara Abu Rokan, Saadi Kaid Ba, Issam Kis, Bashar Isami, Nasiv Ayd and Fadhi Badar – shared their impressions of the project and talked about what it has given them. Abu Rokan said that she had learned  to understand herself better and to know what she wants to do in life. “As a result of the  Technion experience, we can all affect change,” she said.

Kaid Ba saw the program as a great breakthrough for the community. Kis, the son of a  Technion graduate in engineering, wants to be a pilot in the Israel Air Force and after  that in civil aviation.  Isami wants to be an electrical engineer. Ayd has hopes of becoming an astrophysicist,  and Badar wants to be engaged in scientific research.

Some of the youngsters have siblings who have also been aided by the Atidim program. Peres was particularly pleased to welcome Tarif, saying that his presence demonstrated that there was no conflict between religion and science.  He was also pleased to see the large number of females in the program and suggested  to parents of daughters to take note. Like Sa’ar, Peres commended the Druse contribution to national security and said that they excel in everything they do. They have proved themselves as excellent soldiers and farmers he said, and he had no doubt that they would also prove to be excellent scientists.

Peres gently chided Fares for several references to the wisdom of Solomon, who is as  much revered by the Druse as by the Jews, saying that the Druse had a much older  point of reference in that Jethro, one of their key prophets, “started the first faculty for  management, and his first student was Moses.”

December 24, 2012 Technion Researchers Discovered Embryonic Stem Cells that May be a Suitable Substitute for Human Eggs

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Cells in the fetal Amnion membrane, which make up part of the amniotic sac, and protects the fetus throughout the pregnancy period, may be a new source for human eggs
Cells in the fetal Amnion membrane, which make up part of the amniotic sac, and protects the fetus throughout the pregnancy period, may be a new source for human eggs

December 24, 2012

Cells in the fetal Amnion membrane, which make up part of the amniotic sac, and protects  the fetus throughout the pregnancy period, may be a new source for human eggs Technion researchers from the Bruce and Ruth Rappaport Faculty of Medicine found that cells in the fetal Amnion membrane may be a source of human eggs, according  to dissertation of doctoral student Ayelet Evron mentored by the Dean of the Faculty,  Professor Eliezer Shalev.

Amnion membranes constitute a part of the inner layer of the amniotic sac, which  protects the fetus throughout the pregnancy period. Typically, upon being ruptured  during the birth, directly after birth both the expelled placenta and membranes get  thrown out.

Amnion membrane cells develop at the very early stages of the life of the fetus (on the  eighth day after fertilization) and are known to maintain the plasticity of embryonic cells  prior to cellular differentiation. These cells have the potential of joining any one of the  cell groups that later develop into different tissues in the body. To date, the capability of  Amnion membrane cells to differentiate into germ cells with specific gene markers that  develop into human eggs, has never been documented.

The research work was undertaken in collaboration with Dr. Shlomit Goldman at the  research laboratory of Women’s Division of Gynecology and Obstetrics in the Emek  Medical Center (in Afula). It uncovered for the first time that when growing hamnion  membrane cells on growth medium also used in IVF (in vitro fertilization), these cells  display specific signs of gene expression like those of germ cells, which develop into  human eggs, at both the gene and protein levels, as well as in appearance (resembling  large round cells that resemble eggs). Later, the cells express markers that mimic the
characteristic of markers in human egg development, which enable division reduction  upon entry (division that is essential in human egg development), and remain in this  state.

Researchers still face a major challenge – for these cells to be used in substitute of  human eggs, they need to properly complete the reduction process upon entry. Only  after finding a solution to this problem it will be possible to check whether or not Amnion  membrane cells may be used as a new source for human eggs that would be suitable  for women who cannot produce them on their own.

December 24, 2012 The Technion and AMIT established a new company to commercialize stem cell technologies

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COMPATIBLE HUMAN stem cells can cure blood cancers Photo: (University of Louisville Medical School
COMPATIBLE HUMAN stem cells can cure blood cancers Photo: (University of Louisville Medical School

December 24, 2012

The Technion and AMIT (Alfred Mann Institute at the Technion) have established a new company for commercialization of stem cell technologies developed for over a decade at the stem cell research center headed by Professor Joseph Itskovitz-Eldor from the Bruce and Ruth Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. Professor Itskovitz-Eldor is a pioneer and a world leader in the field of stem cell research.

The company, Accellta, will market technologies that will enable commercial companies  and research laboratories to culture masses of homogenous stem cell lines in a fast and  cost-effective manner. The innovative technologies, developed by Professor Itskovitz-  Eldor and Dr. Michal Amit, a senior researcher at the stem cell research center, address  the need for employing genetic manipulation of the cells; although a highly desirable  procedure, the latter is currently associated with poor outcomes. The revolutionary  technologies introduced by Accellta enable to successfully manipulate the cells and
thus enhance the development of prospective stem cell-based therapies and disease  models. In the future the company will also focus on regenerative medicine solutions  and stem cell-based therapeutics for currently incurable diseases.

Professor Itskovitz-Eldor, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at  Rambam Health Care Campus and Director of the Stem Cell Center at the Technion,  is internationally recognized as one of the founders of the field of stem cell research. In  1998, in collaboration with Professor James Thomson from the University of Wisconsin,  he isolated the first human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), which is considered one  of the most important scientific breakthroughs in medical history. In the same year,  he established the first stem cell research laboratory in Israel, and currently holds the
largest number of scientific publications in the field of hESCs.

Since 1998, Professor Itskovitz-Eldor and Dr. Michal Amit have developed advanced  stem cell technologies, including xeno-free and defined growth media, cell culturing  scale-up methods, genetic manipulation techniques and protocols for induced  differentiation of the cells into desired cell types; All of which fundamental to screening  and testing of new therapeutic compounds. The Technion invested in a broad portfolio  of patents to protect these promising inventions.

Accellta will operate in the global stem cell market, estimated at 2 billion dollars and  double-digit annual growth. The market comprises mostly of products and services  for stem cell research and development, as most stem cell technologies are still in  development and have not yet been authorized for clinical use in humans. The stem cell  market is expected to skyrocket in the coming years, once treatments currently under  clinical evaluation receive approval from health authorities.

The Alfred Mann Institute at the Technion – AMIT, has been operating since 2006 to  accelerate the development and commercialization of selected biomedical technologies  invented by Technion scientists. The institute was founded by the initiative of American  billionaire, Dr. Alfred Mann, who funds its activities and serves as Chairman of the  Board of Directors. In addition to Accellta, AMIT also manages four other ventures,  three of which have become start-up companies. According to Professor Itskovitz-Eldor, “The Company’s activities will facilitate the adoption by industrial and clinical entities of some of the world’s most innovative and advanced technologies for culturing pluripotent stem cells (both embryonic and

induced). These unique cells have the ability to generate any cell type of the human  body. Our novel methods can also be used as a platform for the production of proteins  and antibodies as well as for screening of novel therapeutics across a wide range of  diseases. Accellta has already started establishing collaborations with a number of  international companies.”

November 27, 2012 Iron Dome: Technion Brainpower Keeping Israel Safe

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Iron Dome interceptor missiles
Iron Dome missiles

ATS – November 27, 2012 – By Kevin Hattori

As the recent conflict in Israel and Gaza escalated, more and more news reports  included mentions of “Iron Dome,” the defensive anti-missile system that saved  countless lives on both sides. Developed largely by a team of Technion-Israel Institute  of Technology graduates employed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the system  intercepted and destroyed more than 420 missiles headed toward Israel, with a success  rate of 90 percent.

Such a system was first conceived of in 2004, when the Israel Ministry of Defense  issued a call for proposals for a system to intercept short-range rockets. A team of  experts in the Ministry’s R&D Agency (MAFAT) assessed a total of 24 proposals, and  Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ Iron Dome, capable of operating in all weather  conditions, was selected as the most suitable.

Technion graduates made up a large majority of the Iron Dome development team,  which should come as little surprise since 80 percent of the engineers at Rafael are  Technion alumni.   The system was developed in a 30-month time frame, and at a cost  of just 1/8 that of the system that preceded it.

“We couldn’t have done it without Technion graduates,” said Rafael CEO Yedidya Ya’ari  in a 2010 interview.

Iron Dome works by identifying aerial threats (mainly rockets) and eliminating them  autonomously (i.e. without outside controls).   It then uses a sensor to locate the threat,  and a command and control center to analyze the rocket’s trajectory and its damage  potential.   If that center determines that a missile has damage potential, a missile is fired to eliminate that threat.   If the missile is determined to NOT have  potential for damage, it is ignored.

Iron Dome can detect and intercept rockets and artillery shells headed for population  centers within a 43.4-mile (70 kilometer) range, with a success rate between 80 and 90  percent.   This is especially amazing when considering that the incoming missiles are  often comprised of makeshift components, giving them “wobbly” trajectories.

One engineer who played a key role in the Iron Dome’s development likened these  incoming missiles as “…coke bottle(s) flying several times faster than the speed of  sound on an irregular course. Intercepting (them) seems far fetched.”

January 20, 2012 Technion’s Contribution to Israeli Economy Lauded

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news_id127Canadian Jewish News
Sheri Shefa, Staff Reporter, Thursday, January 26, 2012

TORONTO  Technion professor emeritus Shlomo Maital was in Toronto last week to share inspirational success stories about Israel’s technology institute.

The Canadian Technion Society (CTS), which raises funds and awareness for Haifa’s Technion Israel Institute of Technology, organized a dinner in honour of the new Generation Next project, an initiative to attract the 25-to-45 crowd to become involved with the organization.

The event, held at Dr. Laffa restaurant in North York and led by CTS national development director Hershel Recht, Generation Next chair Jack Bensimon, and CTS president Eddie Pal, brought together about 25 young professionals who represent the future of the organization.

Technion’s Maital, an author, researcher and educator who also taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for 20 years, began his lecture by referencing a study that documented MIT’s contribution to the U.S. economy.

It showed that 26,000 businesses were started by MIT grads and if you put their GDP, their product, their value together, it would be an economy that would be the 11th largest in the world. I wondered about the Technion,  said Maital, who has served in Israel’s economic ministry and is about to release a book he co-authored with Technion professor Amnon Frenkel called Technion Nation: Technion’s Contribution to Israel and to Humanity.

He said that it cost about $1 billion to educate the 2010 undergraduate class, but their contribution to Israel’s economy is expected to be an estimated $1.76 billion to nearly $3 billion a year.

However, Maital stressed, the success of Technion graduates shouldn’t be documented using statistics, facts and figures alone.

The book, scheduled for release in June, will also present stories about the contributions Technion graduates have made to Israeli society and the rest of the world.

Maital referred to 2004 Nobel Prize winners and Technion professors Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover, who, along with American scientist Irwin Rose, discovered ubiquitin, a protein that causes cells to turn off and die.

Everyone in biology was studying how cells live and divide. Hershko thought it would be great to study how cells died,  Maital said.

Everyone told him, That’s a graveyard for your career. Nobody cares how and why cells die. It turns out when cells don’t die, they become something called cancer. 

Maital said that based on these findings, a pharmaceutical company developed a drug that kills cells before they can develop into cancer cells.
Maital added that one of Hershk’s friends has benefited from his scientific work. When his friend was diagnosed with stage-three myeloma, a bone marrow cancer that gave him about five years to live the drug that was produced based on Hershko’s discovery worked to slow down the development of the cancer, adding years to his life.

Another inspirational story Maital shared highlighted the work of Technion electrical engineering graduate Amit Goffer, who was involved in an accident that left him unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair.

Instead of being resigned to his fate as a quadriplegic, He asked, How can you take people who cannot move their legs and put them on their feet and enable them to walk? That’s a question with a lot of chutzpah, even to ask the question,  Maital said.

Goffer designed a prototype he called an exoskeleton, a mechanical device that a person wears on his legs.

When a person leans forward, the computer senses that and moves the leg, and then the other leg.

The technology is called ReWalk, and it enables people with lower-limb disabilities to stand, walk, and even climb stairs.

The device is being used now in veterans hospitals in the U.S. to help soldiers who’ve been wounded and crippled by war to walk. And you can imagine what that feels like for a 21-year-old ex-marine who is in a wheelchair, to be able to stand up and walk,  he said.

Maital, who said he was asked to keep his talk brief, stopped himself from sharing many more awe-inspiring stories that showcase Technion’s positive contribution to the world. But he encouraged the gathering to learn more about the technology institute and help the next generation of Technion students turn their ideas into something tangible.

The thing about the Technion is that the scientists who have made these discoveries, mostly are not satisfied with writing academic papers. They like to implement their ideas. 