Today was a really exciting day, starting with a visit to Takwin Lab Innovation center which is a startup incubator helping support and build companies started by Arab Israelis. One of the partners gave a really informative overview of their work as well as an introduction to some of their portfolio companies, including Imagery, a company focusing on developing AI technology to train computers to identify certain objects in images. The work was really interesting, and I particularly enjoyed it as I have become more interested in computer vision technology. I enjoyed talking further about this field with some of the MIT students that have experience in it.
The rest of the day was fully spent at the Technion. We started with a video introduction to the university and its brief history of its founding and growth to today at the visitor’s center and then we took many tours of various departments across campus. We saw the nanofabrication facility as part of the electrical engineering department, which was very impressive. They have state of the art equipment and overall the facility is very new and clean and makes me think about MIT’s facilities. We have a lot of the same equipment, but some of it is older and in more crammed rooms. However we are building a new nanofabcriation center that is slated to be up and running starting 2018. We also took a tour of a bioimaging lab where we saw ultrasound research, neuronal network lab, as well as a tissue engineering lab. Overall I was impressed with the breadth of research in the university and definitely can relate it to the breadth of research that exists at MIT.
We also spoke with Rabbi Dr. Dokow at the Technion Synagogue. He told us his life story and how he came to be the campus rabbi here. I was interested to learn that there is not a ton of support for the campus Hillel group, and there is more of a challenge in being a fully functioning synagogue on a campus that is polytheistic.
Then Noa and Nofal (Technion ConnecTech Fellows) organized a campus wide scavenger hunt where we had certain descriptions we needed to match up with students, such as “never retook an exam” or “loves the Technion” or “never seen an episode of Game of Thrones” so we went around and asked students questions to see if we could find matches. Although it was a struggle, we did eventually accomplish the hardest find which was someone who has never retaken an exam- the Technion is definitely a tough institution and can be merciless on students when it comes to the courses ;). This does make me realize how different the grading system is to MIT’s. This was a fun activity, which got us around campus and forced us to interact with random Technion students. And the weather was perfect which is something we rarely experience at MIT!
For our group activity at night, we had various images depicting metaphorical symbols of the map of Israel and we had to choose one we identified most and least with. This led to a lot of interesting discussion and the follow-up questions allowed for very interest exchange of opinions and ideas. Our discussions ranged from the influence of media in politics to the rights of Jews abroad to criticize Israel. With this we followed with some interesting discussion on our insights into our connection to Israel in various facets, both politically, culturally, and religiously.
It was a packed day but it was really nice to see the Technion and continue conversation on our understanding of our own thoughts and roles in relation to Israel and Judaism.