Roland Wilk began his studies at the Technion as a recipient of a first year fellowship and now has been blessed to provide help to students.
“I grew up in Worcester, South Africa – a small town near Cape Town. After visiting Israel in 1967, following grade 11, I had a dream of studying at the Technion some day. Years went by and after completing my undergraduate engineering degree at the University of Cape Town, I applied for and was accepted to the master’s program in electrical engineering at the Technion, to start in the summer of 1974. “Accepted” however, did not mean I was admitted. I first had to complete a semester of undergraduate courses and achieve at least a “B” grade to be officially admitted. After 6 months of Ulpan and hard work, I was admitted, and thanks to receiving a fellowship, my fees were fully funded for the first year.
I spent that year doing course work, followed by a fascinating project in what would become the Signal and Image Processing Laboratory, where I designed and built a computer-controlled digital filter to synthesize speech in real-time. My supervisor was David Malah, now professor emeritus and close friend.
My Technion studies were complemented by my interest in competitive bridge, and in 1976 I was a member of the Israeli bridge team to the European Junior Championships in Malmö, Sweden. During those years, I also learned to play the clarinet and shared my love for music with my then girlfriend and wife-to-be, Marion, who is a talented pianist. Classical music performance and orchestra management have become a passion that I now continue in retirement.
After graduation, I returned to South Africa and subsequently co-founded a software engineering business, BSW-Data. Twenty years later I decided to exit from the business and focus on family and music. From the proceeds of the sale of the business I was able to make a significant donation to the Technion, more specifically to the Signal and Image Processing Laboratory founded and headed by David Malah, who memorialized the gift by establishing an annual Wilk Family Award for outstanding students.
I have been honoured to attend and address the award ceremony at the Technion many times, and it was so rewarding to see this initiative at the Technion together with my hard work come full circle, when the sale of my business enabled me to provide opportunities for Technion students.
I was lucky to have benefited from financial support from the Lady Davis Fellowship Trust, a trust established in Montreal, Canada (where I live), now managed by the Bloomfield Family. It has been one of the most important and most effective channels of support for the Technion. The Bloomfield family have also played a significant leadership role in philanthropy and community service in Canada, where I now live.
In retrospect, the two years I spent at the Technion were formative years for me and were of the most wonderful years of my life. Being involved with the Technion community has helped me relive these lovely memories as I learn about success stories of students supported by the Wilk Family award.”
As we prepare to celebrate 100 years of the Technion and the exciting century that lies ahead, we want to hear your story of how the Technion has shaped you. Maybe you were on a team that researched a life-saving cure, or made a science-changing discovery that won the Nobel prize. Maybe you met your spouse on campus. Maybe the Technion shaped your family or your profession in big or small ways.