Zisapel Brothers Donate New Electrical Engineering Building

L to R: Scott Leemaster, Prof. Uri Sivan, Prof. Boaz Golany , Yehuda Zisapel, Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie and Zohar Zisapel, credit: Nitzan Zohar, Technion Press Office

Brothers Yehuda and Zohar Zisapel, both alumni of Technion’s Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering, will donate funds to construct a new building for the Faculty in which they studied.

Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie announced the gift yesterday evening in the presence of the donors and Haifa Mayor Dr. Einat Kalisch-Rotem, at the opening event of the Technion International Board of Governors annual meeting. Prof. Lavie thanked Yehuda and Zohar Zisapel for their outstanding gift, “Many alumni recognize the significance of their Technion degree only years after they graduate, but Yehuda and Zohar have continuously supported their home faculty since their graduation, and this new gift will enable the faculty to maintain its research status as a global leader.”

The new building, to be named the Zisapel Electrical Engineering Building, will be located between the Faculty’s two existing buildings and will help Technion expand and improve its teaching and research facilities as part of the academic development plan for Technion’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering. The building will serve the Faculty for teaching and research in electronics, computers, and communications, and will function as a hub for basic and applied research for training scientists, students and engineers, and for developing advanced technologies. The new building will have an impact on nurturing excellence in the field of electrical engineering on an international level.

The Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering is Technion’s largest faculty and the largest engineering department in Israel, with over 2,200 students. During its 80 years of existence, the Faculty has educated approximately 15,000 alumni who led the transformation of Israel from an agricultural economy to a high-tech powerhouse. These alumni form the backbone of Israel’s civilian and military knowledge-intensive industries.

The Zisapel brothers, founders of the RAD Bynet Group, have maintained a warm relationship with Technion through the years, helping with financial support and also personal involvement. One of the Zisapel family’s most generous gifts to Technion led to the establishment of the Sara and Moshe Zisapel Nanoelectronics Center, dedicated in 2007 in memory of their late parents.

Yehuda Zisapel, former head of the Technion Alumni Association; initiated the “From Three to Five” project, which helps high-school students complete high level matriculation exams in STEM subjects; and the “Ofakim l’High-Tech” program (now called “Achievements for High-Tech”), that helps discharged soldiers from Israel’s periphery to pursue academic studies in engineering and science.

Zohar Zisapel has also supported Technion in numerous ways and contributes millions of dollars for children’s technological education and to expose every Israeli child to the world of computers and the internet. Last year, he was named the Israeli Chair of Technion’s global fundraising campaign, which aims to raise US$ 1.8 billion to strengthen Technion’s leadership position in the global arena.

“As Technion alumni we have been fortunate to contribute to the expansion of research and teaching in the faculty from which we graduated,” said Yehuda Zisapel. “We have been in touch with our alma mater ever since our graduation, and it is our privilege to provide support for the new challenges facing Technion and the State of Israel. The high-tech industry is desperate for engineering and science graduates for its continued growth and prosperity. The new building will welcome scientists, expand the faculty’s research infrastructure, and educate engineers for the Israeli high-tech industry.”

In 2015, Prof. Andrew Viterbi, a founder of Qualcomm and a leading figure in the global digital sector, donated $50 million to the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, which is named for him and his late wife, Erna. “It is my great pleasure to join in thanking Yehuda and Zohar Zisapel for their continuing spontaneous generosity on behalf of the Technion, the technological jewel of Israeli academia,” he wrote in a special message. “I particularly appreciate that their current gift is directed toward funding a new building for the Electrical Engineering Faculty, a discipline which I consider to be the cradle of the Israeli technology which has contributed to protecting the nation for half a century and more recently to the success of the Startup Nation.”

“Zohar and Yehuda Zisapel’s generous gift joins several other significant donations that Technion recently received from alumni,” said Prof. Boaz Golany, Technion Vice President for External Relations and Resource Development. “This gift is an important milestone in the process of recruiting alumni to support the institution where they studied. In the United States, there is a time-honored tradition that encourages alumni to support their alma maters, but in Israel we are still struggling to entrench a similar tradition. I view the Zisapel brothers as role models and call on other alumni to follow their example, each in his own way.”

Prof. Nahum Shimkin, Dean of the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering, thanked Zohar and Yehuda Zisapel in the name of the Faculty for their generous contribution. “The Zisapel brothers, both of whom are graduates of the Faculty, are among the most notable of pioneers of Israel’s high-tech industry,” he said. “The generous gift for establishing the Nanoelectronics Center, which is named for their parents Sara and Moshe Zisapel, enabled the establishment of an advanced research center that serves numerous research groups from Technion and elsewhere. The current gift will enable the Faculty of Electrical Engineering to continue training the best engineers and scientists for Israel’s high-tech sector, which needs high-quality human capital in order to continue thriving. I am proud that the Faculty’s main building will carry the name of the Zispael brothers.”