Amit Mizrahi, a senior at International Academy High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan shares his summer experience as a student at the Technion’s international science and technology program — SciTech. The rigorous research program satisfied his “inner-geek” — he works after school as a software developer at a startup company and on various software projects. He also connected to his heritage: Amit’s mother, father and other family members earned their degrees from the Technion.

Amit Mizrahi with Technion President Peretz Lavie

Amit Mizrahi explains his research to Technion President Peretz Lavie

In Judaism there is a phrase, “L’dor Va’dor,” which means “from generation to generation.” In this sense, Judaism is a faith that is based strongly on roots, history and tradition. While many Jews have found their roots by visiting Eastern Europe or looking through old family documents, I have connected to my past in a different, perhaps unconventional way – by doing research at the Technion—Israel Institute of Technology.

The Technion runs in my blood. My grandfather is a Professor Emeritus there, while my mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, aunt and uncle all hold degrees from the university. Throughout my life I have heard countless intriguing stories about the research conducted there and its impact on Israel’s hi-tech economy. Until this summer, the Technion was an idea, a distant place that I could only visualize.

My perspective changed after I heard about the SciTech summer science program for high school students. I decided that a worthwhile and memorable way to spend my summer was to fly to Israel and do research at the institution that is so inextricably tied to my family’s history. The program was the perfect opportunity to experience a taste of science, Israeli culture and the college lifestyle.

From the moment I set foot on campus, I knew that I had made the right choice. First of all, I was amazed by the Technion’s faculty and facilities. It was immediately apparent to me that the Technion is at the core of Israeli innovation and ingenuity. In the SciTech program itself, I was surrounded by a diverse group of 42 brilliant young scientists from countries across the globe – not only Israelis and Americans, but also Jewish and non-Jewish students hailing from Australia, Spain, the UK, Serbia, South Korea and other places. As I befriended these people, I was awash with new cultures, worldviews and perspectives.

Amit (r) with his research team receiving their SciTech diplomas.

The combined intellect of the program’s participants was astounding. Whenever we were together in a group setting, the ideas and creativity seemed to radiate throughout the room. It was clear that I was surrounded by future scientists, engineers and leaders. Each person, as part of a small team, was working on an interesting and sophisticated project from one of many various disciplines, which included chemical engineering, medicine, biomedical engineering, mathematics, and mechanical engineering.

My project was in the field of computer science and dealt with exploring novel applications for an algorithm that matched kidney donors to recipients, among other things. I worked with two colleagues and a faculty mentor, and together we engineered an implementation and application of the algorithm from scratch. The project was a fascinating introduction to the world of theoretical computer science. As a team, we forged a special bond that was strengthened by writing and testing code for 8 hours a day.

Outside of the labs, there was plenty of time to share meaningful experiences with the other participants in the program. One of the most enjoyable parts of the program for me was walking around the Technion campus with my newfound friends, visiting buildings in which my family members had studied, dined, and lived several decades ago. We also engaged in outlandish social activities that brought us all closer together as a group. Soon enough, we became inseparable.

The program was not only confined to the Technion campus. To supplement our experiences and give the non-Israelis a glimpse of Israel, we traveled across the northern half of Israel. We spent free days touring the ancient city of Akko, staying in a kibbutz near the Kinneret, and relaxing on the beach at Rosh Hanikra. Thankfully, the program’s coordinators were able to keep us safe despite the conflict taking place in the southern part of Israel at that time.

After returning home from SciTech, I took some time to reflect upon my experiences amidst the preparations for my senior year of high school. As I packed and organized my school supplies, I recalled all of the memorable experiences and connections that had resulted from this program. I believe that the friendships that I had made and the knowledge that I had gained at SciTech did not end with the final goodbyes at the closing ceremony. Although all of us are now in different parts of the world, the tight bonds between us will likely remain. Not only had I found my roots at the Technion, but I had also planted seeds for the future.


In the midst of Operation Protective Edge, the ATS sent a delegation to Israel to show solidarity and support for Israel and the Technion. The high-level trip, which took place from August 11-13, provided an insider’s account of the conflict and its impact on the Technion campus and its people. The following three messages were written by Technion International Board of Governors Chairman Larry Jackier and ATS President Scott Leemaster, who, together, headed the delegation.

Monday, August 11:

Greetings from Haifa.

Delegation group

The delegation

Our special American Technion Society Solidarity Delegation to Israel officially began last night, with a dinner and reception with members of the Technion administration at the Dan Carmel Hotel in Haifa. Among those who joined us was President Peretz Lavie, and we were greatly moved when he thanked us and said that it was especially fitting for this gathering of the ATS/Technion family to begin on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Av (known as the “holiday of love”), because our mission is one of love, solidarity and friendship to the Technion and Israel.

Today, we learned from Vice President for External Relations and Resource Development Boaz Golany about the effects of the current conflict on the Technion campus, students and faculty. We also toured the campus, and saw tangible ways that the American Technion Society is helping protect our Technion family. We visited labs, where we met brilliant faculty and students helping keep all of Israel safe. And we are learning what is already being done, what remains to be done, and about how we can best stand shoulder to shoulder with our Israeli and Technion family and friends.

We still have many things to do, see and learn over the coming days, and will do our best to keep you updated here and across the ATS communications channels. Thank you for your support, and for following along as we demonstrate our commitment to peace, prosperity and the future of the Technion and Israel.

Tuesday, August 12:

Memorial 2

Laying down a wreath at the grave of Sean Carmeli, an IDF “Lone Soldier” from Texas

Today’s schedule began with a riveting panel presentation at the Dan Carmel Hotel about the effects of the current conflict on Technion students, including the 600 to 700 serving on active duty, and the 350 who are from towns in Israel’s south. Moderated by Sara Katzir, director of the Beatrice Weston Unit for the Advancement of Students, the panel included three students serving on active duty, and another from Israel’s south who has not been called up to serve because of a previous injury.

Helping students with the transitions that occur in times of conflict is one of the main functions of Sara and her team. The Technion, she says, has a high percentage of officers in Israel’s armed forces. And since officers are not allowed to postpone or shorten their reserve duty, abrupt transitions become the norm: “One day you are studying for an exam and worrying about your average. The next day you are on the frontline. And when the war is over, back to studies as if you were never away,” she said.

Assaf Z., a Ph.D. student in chemical engineering, and a major in the Israel Defense Forces armored corps, spoke highly of the Beatrice Weston Unit and the Technion Reservist Student Support Fund, saying that, “…the Technion leads the way in helping and supporting soldiers who do reserve duty. It leads the country, and Sara and her team are national role models.”

Ohad M., an undergraduate student in the Faculty of Computer Engineering, has been staying at his family’s home in Moshav Bat Hadar near Ashkelon since the start of the war to take care of his younger siblings while his parents go out to work. Ashkelon has been hammered constantly by rocket fire from Gaza. Ohad said that Iron Dome— developed by a team comprised mainly of Technion graduates— is making a tremendous difference in the south: “Before Iron Dome it was bingo. We had no real protection.”

Hearing the students’ stories and knowing that ATS support is so critical served to emphasize the importance of this delegation. And the feelings of solidarity run both ways. On behalf of the students, Sara said. “We know that we are not alone when we see you here and feel your support … Thank you for being here and for listening.”

While we’re here in a time of crisis, we were also reminded this morning of the Technion’s seminal contributions to the betterment of the world though science and medicine. During our tour of the Technion Integrative Cancer Research Center in the Technion Faculty of Medicine, we heard presentations from Profs. Amir Orian and Gera Neufeld (from the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology) about the groundbreaking and lifesaving cancer research being conducted there.

After our departure from the Technion, we visited the Neve David Cemetery in Haifa, for a brief memorial service at the grave of Sean Carmeli, an IDF “Lone Soldier” from Texas who was killed in the current conflict. Surely he is a shining example of what it means to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel.

Our afternoon agenda included a meeting at the Tel Aviv offices of Elbit, where we met Technion graduate Haim Rousso, Executive Vice President for Engineering and Technology Excellence, and General Reserve Shuki Shichrur, Deputy Commander of the Northern Command, who assisted the Commander of the Southern Command during Operation Protective Edge.

Before arriving at our hotel in Tel Aviv, we stopped at Tel Hashomer Hospital to visit wounded soldiers recuperating in the rehabilitative wing. We brought hugs and gifts and said thank you for defending Israel for the Jewish people in the U.S. and around the world.

And at dinner in Tel Aviv, guest speaker Prof. Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University, offered his views and commentary on the current and complex events in the Middle East.

We’ve experienced much over the past day and a half, but there is still more for us to see, do and learn. Tomorrow, we will spend time in Israel’s south, the region most affected by this conflict. It will surely give us an even deeper understanding of what it means to be in solidarity with our Israeli and Technion family and friends.

Thank you for your support, and for following along as we demonstrate our commitment to peace, prosperity and the future of the Technion and Israel.

Wednesday, August 13:

An Iron Dome battery

An Iron Dome battery

Our final day in Israel began with breakfast and a dialogue with Alon Ben-David, the senior defense correspondent for Israel’s Channel 10, who provided us with an insider’s view of the region’s political and security situation. He also shared Israel’s strategic challenges during Operation Protective Edge.

As has been the case throughout the mission, we saw and experienced things today that filled us with wonder, emotion and pride. Experiences that have forever changed us.

We visited an Iron Dome missile-defense battery in Ashdod, and it was awe-inspiring to actually see the system that has saved so may lives – with the knowledge that it was designed by a group comprised largely of Technion graduates.

In Moshav Netiv HaAssara (located on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip), we met with two residents who shared the daily struggles they and others face with constant rocket fire and complex security issues while trying to live their lives.

We visited Sderot, another town in the south. At the police station, we saw a huge collection of spent rockets that had fallen in the local area. We also visited a children’s playground where bomb shelters in the shape of caterpillars provide safety for children in the event of a code red alert.

And during it all, we learned ever more about why it is so critical for all of us to stand together with our Israeli and Technion friends and family.

At our final dinner together, we heard from Michael Oren, former ambassador of Israel to the United States, who thanked us for coming and for “what we’ve done in supporting the Technion and Israel.” In so many ways, however, it is we who are thankful for the honor of having experienced all that we have in the last four days.

We’re proud and privileged to have been a part of this solidarity mission, and grateful for all of the people who put their lives on hold to join us. But our mission does not end here. It is our sincere hope that all of us who were here will share our experiences far and wide, and be ambassadors for the Technion and the State of Israel.

If you would like to show your solidarity with Israel and the Technion, please click here to make a tax-deductible gift. 

To view a photo album from the delegation, please click here.


Hosted annually by MIT, the iGEM competition gives entrepreneurial biotech students a chance to test their mettle. The goal is to set up a mock biotechnology start-up company — from the laboratory and investment capital to a marketing program — and to do it all rapidly and on a shoestring budget.

Two years after bringing home the iGEM gold, the Technion team is once again participating in the competition. The team is led by Rebecca Feldman, who became so energized after hearing a report on the 2012 iGEM competition that she took the lead in building a new team to travel to the U.S. in the fall and hopefully bring home another gold medal.

The Technion team in the lab

“I became really excited about this competition,” said Rebecca, who graduated from the Technion in June. “It touched on my chief research interest, and I also liked the team and community aspects.”

Student teams are given a kit of biological parts at the beginning of the summer. Working throughout the season, they use these parts and new parts of their own design to build biological systems and operate them in living cells. Successful projects produce cells that exhibit new and unusual properties by engineering genes together with mechanisms to regulate their expression. The team of a dozen Technion students spans multiple disciplines, including business management. After “lots of twists and turns,” the team designed an artificial genetic circuit inside a bacterium that detects toxic mercury and specific allergens in food. They used non-pathogenic E. coli bacteria, which is easy to grow and manipulate, and inserted genes that cause the bacteria to turn green when they detect even very low concentrations of toxins or allergens, Rebecca explained, adding that they have “high hopes” that the judges will find their work gold-medal worthy.

Team Leader Rebecca Feldman

Team Leader Rebecca Feldman

When Rebecca was 17, she traveled to Israel on a summer youth tour and immediately realized that this was where she wanted to live. Two years later, she returned, intending to stay— and she has. She volunteered for military service, even though she was exempt, and was placed in the technology division. Here she was exposed to many science and engineering graduates from the Technion and other universities, and became intrigued by their knowledge. Remembering her love of biology in high school, she decided to study biotechnology. And after meeting her future husband in the same unit, who was a happy graduate of the Technion now working at Intel, there seemed to be only a single choice for a university.

No decisions have been made about her next step after graduating, Rebecca said. She may take some time off and then return for an advanced degree, furthering her interest in genetic engineering. But by fall, she’ll be leading the Technion iGEM team, one of 245 international teams and one of two from Israel. Ben Gurion University of the Negev is also sending a team. The two Israeli teams generated their ideas separately, but will rely on each other for refining them.

There will also be outreach efforts. One of the most exciting, said Rebecca, is what’s tentatively called “Synthetic Biology in Three Languages.” The goal is to use science as a common thread to strengthen ties between Haifa’s Israeli and Arab populations; one of the iGEM team members, Faris Horani, is an Arab student who can work on the Arabic language aspect. Other efforts include an initiative to help prepare high school students for next year’s iGEM high school competition.

But whatever the 2014 iGEM team accomplishes, it’s already a success. A new team for 2015 is almost ready to pick up the mantle.

Olivia Diamond (second row, second from the left) with the TeAMS Class of 2014 standing in front of the medical facility.

The Technion American Medical Students Program (TeAMS) offers an opportunity for qualified U.S. or Canadian pre-med college graduates to earn his or her M.D. degree in the Ruth & Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine while experiencing life in Israel. Since its inception in 1983, hundreds of students have successfully passed the licensing exams to practice in North America.

This year’s TeAMS graduates have done exceptionally well, placing into some of the most prestigious residency programs in the U.S. One such 2014 graduate, Olivia Diamond, 26, of Scarsdale, New York, who will work at the Harvard-affiliated Mount Auburn Hospital in Massachusetts, speaks to us about her experience at the Technion. In addition to her academics, Olivia is an athlete and linguist. Though she is fluent in Swedish and speaks some Norwegian, Spanish, French, Italian and Arabic, her Hebrew was limited to “shalom” when she arrived at the Technion. Olivia, however, is a fast learner.

Congratulations on being matched with Harvard’s Mount Auburn Hospital. That is quite an accomplishment. Can you tell us a bit about what lies ahead?

I’m very excited! Mount Auburn Hospital is a wonderful teaching hospital. It is affiliated with and staffed by Harvard. Getting into any residency program is very competitive, and getting into Harvard’s was particularly tough. I was the only one at my medical program at the Technion to get accepted.

I’ll be in the three-year internal medicine program, which begins on June 23. I’ll be a Clinical Fellow, which is considered a faculty appointment at the Harvard Medical School. The hospital allows medical students to rotate through the department so I will get to see patients as well as do some clinical teaching. This program is a great gateway, giving me the edge to pursue a fellowship when I’m finished. Eventually, I’d like to be a hematologist oncologist — someone who specializes in cancer and other blood-related disorders.


Olivia Diamond on the Technion campus

How was your experience at the TeAMS program? Do you feel prepared for the next step?

I’m really proud to be a future graduate of the Technion. (Graduation is May 12, 2014). The pre-clinical and clinical instruction is fantastic! We were immersed almost immediately into the goings-on of hospital life. We got to watch procedures and shadow doctors on their rounds. In the second year, we went to the hospital twice a week and learned how to take perfect patient histories and physical exams. When the doctors found out that we were from the Technion, they had high expectations and pushed us hard. But I enjoyed the challenge.

Last summer I spent three months as a sub-intern at different hospitals in New York City. My knowledge was as good or better than the other students. And because I had hands-on experience very early on, my clinical thinking and approach to clinical exams was more proficient. I was one of the most adept at putting in IVs and drawing blood.


What made you choose the Technion TeAMS program?

I had always wanted to study abroad while I attended Cornell, but was too busy, so didn’t get the chance. I had never been to Israel, and I’m Jewish, so I felt the connection and thought it would be fantastic to live there for four years. I had heard about the Technion’s reputation in science and engineering but didn’t know that much about the medical program. Once I started looking at medical schools and learned that the Technion required a thesis — a wonderful opportunity to do research — I didn’t look any further.

I did my thesis on the effects of chemotherapy on ovarian function and future fertility, researching a compound that has been shown to block the effects of the chemo in order to spare fertility. I had never before done my own research, compiled data and made my own conclusions, so it was a great experience. I’m looking into the possibility of publishing it.


How did you become interested in medicine?

As a child, I had an obsession with marine life, whales and dolphins. When I was 11, I spent a summer on a small island off Canada at a “whale camp,” and took courses in sea life. I wanted to be a marine biologist.

But I was always an athlete. I played soccer in elementary school and then did track and field and cross-country. Running became my niche, but I developed a condition called exercise-induced compartment syndrome. I was feeling pain and tingling in my legs, and discovered that I was developing muscle and nerve damage. So when I was 15, I had a surgery called a fasciotomy on both of my legs. I was awake through the entire procedure and the surgeon told me step-by-step what she was doing. I thought it was absolutely fascinating and made medicine my goal. Initially I had contemplated going into veterinary
medicine, but then switched because I really wanted to work with people.

It will be nice to get back home, but I wouldn’t trade my experience at the Technion with anyone.

The term “Technion Family” is used loosely to describe all of the researchers, students and Technion workers, but for the Hiar family from Peki’in, in Northern Israel, it’s a reality: four out of five children in the Druze family are studying at the Technion this year, as well as the fiancés of the two oldest siblings.

In the photo (from right to left): Lina, Alaa, Manar, Majda, Jamal, Majed and Lubna

In the photo (l to r): Lina, Alaa, Manar, Majda, Jamal, Majed and Lubna

The oldest brother, 30-year-old Majed, is a fourth year student in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. After completing his army service, he decided he wanted to start university. “I chose to study at the Technion because of its good reputation and since it was the closest Institute to my home,” he said.

Majed’s younger brother, 25-year-old Alaa, followed in his footsteps and came to study at the Technion. He began his studies following his army service in the artillery unit. “I came for a consultation,” remembers Alaa, “And the challenge at the Technion excited me.”

Following in the footsteps of the two brothers are their fiancés, Lubna and Lina. Lubna (23) will complete her studies this year at the Department of Education in Science and Technology with a degree in biology and environmental studies, and Lina (20) is a second year student in the Faculty of Industrial Engineering & Management, majoring in production and service systems.

“Ever since high school I’ve wanted to study biology,” relates Lubna. “It’s a field that really interests me and I love it.” Meanwhile, Lina says, “I’m very happy to be studying at the Faculty of Industrial Engineering & Management, because the atmosphere is great and the studies are at a very high level and very interesting.”

Last year, Majda (20) joined the group, following in her older brothers’ footsteps. After completing the pre-university “mechina” studies at the Technion, she joined a teaching degree program at the Department of Education in Science and Technology, in electricity and electronics. “I want to be a college teacher of electricity and electronics,” she said.

At the beginning of this year, her younger sister Manar (18) started her studies at the Technion – at the Faculty of Biology. She wants to be a doctor and hopes to be accepted to the prestigious Faculty of Medicine. She hopes to earn high grades during her first year in biology.

Jamal, their father, is very proud of his children. He was wounded during his military service and circumstances in his life forced him to give up on his dream for higher education. Nonetheless, he and his wife Hedaya instilled in their children the academic dream, and encouraged everyone to fulfill their potential. “It’s not easy to financially support four students at the same time,” says Jamal. “But they are good students, they receive scholarships and they work.”

The fifth brother in the family, Baha (27) had not yet started his academic studies. He is financially supporting his siblings and next year he is planning to start studying if it will be financially feasible.

Four siblings at the Technion is wonderful – on this they all agree. Each one assists the other in the courses they are best at. Sometimes they have meals together, and try to visit home together.  When they all have free time, they spend it together, and during stressful exam periods, when one of them goes home to the village, they return with food and other supplies for everyone (who stayed on campus).

At the end of the year, Majed and Lubna will graduate from the Technion and return home to the village. They plan to get married and find jobs – Lubna wants to teach at a school in Peki’in and Majed will look for a position as a mechanical engineer. “We’ll miss them,” said Alaa, “But I guess we shall all go back to the village in the future, and perhaps even one day found a company together. Together we have the necessary professions needed to start a business, but first it’s very important that we all gain experience in our fields of expertise.”

The following article, which originally appeared on Shma.com, addresses China’s increased commercial and academic clout in Israel, including the recently created Technion Guangdong Institute of Technology. It was written by Sam Chester, an expert on China-Middle East affairs and a graduate of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His regular commentary on Sino-Middle East issues can be found on Twitter @Shaihuludata.

Sam Chester

Sam Chester

As relations between China and Israel have dramatically expanded in the last few years, several major questions remain unanswered. For starters, China has become every top Israeli leader’s favorite talking point, but the Jewish state remains without a coherent strategy on how to engage the Asian giant. What, in short, is Israel’s China policy? Furthermore, why are trade and investment numbers so low despite all the talk that Israeli innovation is a perfect marriage for Chinese capital and manufacturing? And, finally, how can Israel develop ties with China without sacrificing its long-standing relationship with the United States?

While none of these questions are easily answered, Israel and its supporters are making progress on the first two areas of concern. A coherent China policy may be too much to expect from a governing system that is not known as a bastion of coordinated strategic planning. That said, a new task force led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top economic advisor, Eugene Kandel, is helping to streamline bilateral interactions around a single agenda based on trade, investment, and cultural exchange. The two governments’ recommitment to boosting commercial ties, coupled with the constant stream of Chinese business delegations to Israel, suggests that trade and investments will continue to improve.

The prognosis for Israel successfully balancing ties with China and the United States is far less promising. When Jerusalem and Beijing first drew close in the late 1990s, Washington broke up the promising relationship over a fear that China was acquiring advanced Israeli weaponry. With Israel and China having ended their weapons business in 2005 under American pressure, security concerns are presumably no longer an issue. But China’s emergence as America’s main global rival means that every encouraging advance in Sino-Israel relations is a setback for U.S. interests in the Jewish state. Or, at least, that is the message communicated in much of the media coverage of Sino-Israel developments.

At the Great Wall

At the Great Wall

Take, for instance, the recent $130 million donation by Chinese billionaire Li Ka-Shing to the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Media coverage contrasts the Chinese largess to the academic boycotts launched by Americans and Europeans against Israeli universities. Reports of Israeli venture capital firms establishing new funds with Chinese capital portray American economic strength as faltering since the 2008 financial crisis (in marked contrast to newly energized Chinese investors). And, finally, China’s purported involvement in some of Israel’s most ambitious economic projects — such as exporting Israel’s new offshore gas or building a rail line to bypass the Suez Canal in the Negev Desert — is presented as threatening American interests in the Jewish state.

Political developments between Israel and China are portrayed as even larger setbacks for the United States. When China hosted Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Beijing in May, media coverage suggested that China was seeking to replace the United States as the principal peacemaker between the two sides. When Israel revealed that it would be opening up a sorely needed consulate in the booming western Chinese city of Chengdu, the spin suggested that the Consul General of Israel in Philadelphia would close to provide the needed budget for the new consulate in China. And China’s opposition to American policy in Syria is portrayed as further evidence that, with Beijing’s growing dependence on Arab oil, China will soon become deeply involved in Middle East crises.

Much of this media narrative is heavily exaggerated and quite harmful. It is important to understand clearly that China remains committed to avoiding political entanglement in the Middle East, and its increased commercial and academic clout in Israel is no different than its investments in much of the developed world. More to the point, America remains the critical economic and political partner in Israel and across the Middle East.

A narrative that paints closer ties between Israel and China as undermining American interests is a disservice to all three countries. Fortunately, an alternative narrative readily exists, in which Israel serves as a bridge between East and West, a state that helps the two global powers interact and advance their mutual interests. With a thriving start-up economy, political stability in a region marked by endless turmoil, and a reserve of cultural (if not political) goodwill in both Beijing and Washington, Israel has much to attract both China and the United States. For example, the Chinese gift to the Technion includes building a branch of the esteemed Israeli research center in southern China. With another overseas campus planned for New York City, the Technion is positioning itself as an academic nexus connecting American and Chinese students under the aegis of Israeli know-how. In presenting itself as a conduit between the two global powers, Israel would be reaching back to a narrative that was successful in the 1990s, when the United States initially supported the uptick in Sino-Israel relations and China was all too happy to become friendly with a country it considered highly influential in Washington.

Still, Israel and its supporters are all too familiar with the power of narrative. But when it comes to Israel’s dealings with China, the Jewish state is standing pat while a harmful narrative falsely plays China off the United States. For the benefit of all three counties, this narrative can and should be corrected.

Terry Gardner lives in the global hub of the offshore oil industry — Houston, Texas. He spent 33 years at ExxonMobil and BP developing technology for deepwater oil and gas production. Now retired, he teaches about the technology being used around the world in deepwater projects. So when he learned that the Technion is responding to Israel’s deepwater discoveries by training the nation’s first gas and oil engineers, he volunteered to help make the program a success.

Terry Gardner

Terry Gardner teaching Israel’s first gas and oil engineers during an intensive course at the Technion in deepwater technology.

President of the ATS Houston Chapter since 2007 and a member of the National ATS Board of Directors, Terry provided a generous gift in support of the new Natural Gas and Petroleum Engineering Graduate Program (NG & PE). An aerospace engineer turned deepwater oil and gas engineer, he also traveled to the Technion campus, where he had taught briefly in the 1970s, to teach a course on deepwater drilling and production.


In January 2009, Houston-based Noble Energy, in partnership with several Israeli companies, discovered the Tamar gas field deep beneath the Mediterranean, 50 miles from Haifa. While there had been other small gas and oil discoveries over the decades, Tamar was then the largest to date. That record was quickly broken.

The following year, a natural gas field nearly twice that size was uncovered some 20 miles away and aptly called Leviathan (“great whale” in Hebrew). With an estimated 17 trillion cubic feet of gas, Leviathan became the largest gas reservoir found anywhere in the world over the past decade — and a potential game changer for Israel. Tamar and Leviathan, plus subsequent discoveries, can provide enough natural gas to meet Israel’s domestic energy needs for decades to come, leaving billions of dollars worth of natural gas reserves for export.

“These giant gas discoveries, and a high potential for oil as well, will greatly reduce Israel’s dependence on foreign imports,” Terry says. But Noble Energy is currently providing all the engineering and management for Israel’s developments. “Israel needs to develop its own capability to run such projects. Further, given Israel’s record of advancing technology in so many other fields, there is great opportunity here for Israeli ingenuity.”

“Professor Gardner”

In December 2013, Terry headed to the Technion campus to teach the course on deepwater drilling and production technology that he has developed for his consulting practice. In the Technion graduate program, a semester class is usually taught twice weekly over a 10-12 week period. But when taught by an overseas visiting instructor, it is compressed into an intensive six-day week. Terry recruited a colleague, Mark Ramsey of Texas Drilling Associates, to join him and teach fundamental drilling technology topics.

Their 17 graduate students, ranging in age from 26 to 52 years old, were remarkably responsive and inquisitive. “I admired their drive. Many took time off from work or away from their family at their own expense because they had a personal ambition to do something new,” Terry says. They recognized they were unlikely to find related work quickly in Israel because Israel is still a small player on the global scene. “But they don’t worry about having to see the future clearly before they start moving towards it. That’s the way Israel works,” he says. “With the potential for further large discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean, likely including oil, Israel may find a niche in this global industry. These engineers sense there will be opportunities for Israel innovators in deepwater oil and gas technology.”

The students invited Terry and Mark out to dinner on two occasions. Another evening, they dined with Professors Gideon Grader, head of the Grand Technion Energy Program, and Yoed Tsur, Director of The Interdisciplinary Energy Graduate Study Program, home to the NG & PE Program. “The class went very well and we got nice ratings from the appreciative students,” Terry said upon his return.

Young and Restless

Terry studied Engineering Mechanics in the early 1960s, earning his bachelors and master’s degrees at Cornell University and his doctorate from University of California, Los Angeles. “Not happy in the U.S. and trying to figure out who I was, I spent a few months in Spain,” he relates. He learned Spanish, but still unfulfilled, moved to Israel. He joined an Ulpan program at Kibbutz Hanita on the Lebanese border, where he spent half the day studying Hebrew and the remainder working in the fields.

After the Ulpan, he landed a job at Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), and during that period also taught occasionally in the Technion’s Aeronautics Department. Living in Tel Aviv, he met and married a young Sabra named Shifra. Two years later they moved to California, where he worked in the aerospace industry while Shifra taught Hebrew. In 1976, they moved to Houston when Terry got a job as a Research Advisor for ExxonMobil Upstream Research Co.

“I always had very fond memories of my experience at Technion” he says. So when Terry met Hershel Rich, Houston’s iconic Technion supporter, he too became involved. “The Technion is enormously attractive as a contributor to Israel’s security and global image for medical advances, innovation and entrepreneurial growth. It’s very satisfying to be associated with such a successful enterprise.”

Terry Gardner and Mark Ramsey with students of the Technion Natural Gas and Petroleum Engineering Graduate Program (NG & PE).

Terry Gardner and Mark Ramsey with students of the Technion Natural Gas and Petroleum Engineering Graduate Program (NG & PE).


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