The Technion: Israel’s Hard DriveApr. 23, 2013
“Officially, the rule is that first- and second-year students should not take outside jobs,” says Peretz Lavie, president of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Cornell’s partner in creating an ambitious graduate school for applied science and engineering in New York City.
But if the Technion refuses to coddle its charges — about 9,000 undergraduates and 3,800 graduate students — Intel, I.B.M., Microsoft and Yahoo and the like make up for it. All have set up offices along a direct bus route from student housing, recruit heavily from the student body and offer working hours that take those advanced integral algebra exams into account.
Much as Silicon Valley popped up around Stanford, and Route 128 came to symbolize high technology because of its proximity to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, so the Technion has transformed the sleepy northern city of Haifa into a buzzy high-tech center.
In a country known as start-up nation, this is not the only university where students can bury themselves in robotics, engineering and computer science labs, but it is generally considered the best. When M.I.T. is mentioned in a movie showing in Israel — “American Pie,” for example — the Hebrew subtitle simply says “Technion.”
Conceived by the Zionist Congress in 1905, in part as a response to the exclusion of Jews from engineering studies in Europe, the Technion finally opened in 1923, when there were no Hebrew words for most of the technical terms needed to teach a basic engineering class. Since then, the university has come up with more than just translations for “aerodynamic” and “nuclear.”
“I can say without exaggeration that Israel could not have been built without the Technion,” says Yossi Vardi, who has founded or helped build more than 60 companies in Israel and has five degrees from the Technion. “There is a Technion graduate behind practically every highway, desalinization plant, new missile technology and start-up company in the country.”
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