Archive for August, 2012

A Second Journey

This blog post was written by Elise Miller-Hooks, Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Maryland.

Earlier this year I blogged about my experience as a visiting scientist with the Technion’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. It was my return visit to Israel after 25 years. I connected with family, made new friends, and started research collaborations with colleagues at the Technion and other Israeli universities. After returning home to Maryland in January, two of the collaborations I had begun during my visit began to take root, and in June I returned to Israel to develop the work further.

One of these collaborations is with Eyal Levenberg, a Technion faculty member with expertise in pavements. Professor Levenberg attended a lecture I gave during my December visit. The lecture focused on resilience in intermodal freight transport systems. Subsequently, we began discussing the importance of resilience in airport runway-taxiway pavement networks and commenced an exploratory investigation on the subject. In time, two of my advisees and graduate research assistants at the University of Maryland became involved in the work. A few days ago, the four of us submitted our first joint journal article for publication. We are working on yet a second article and have plans to extend the work further into the area of sustainability.

This second journey to Israel in less than six months was as incredible as the first. This visit, I stayed at the Technion’s Forchheimer Guest House, swam in the Technion’s Olympic size pool, and enjoyed a concert by RITA in the heart of campus during the 2012 International Board of Governors meeting. During the day, I worked with Professor Levenberg, learned about his experimental work with tours of his labs, met faculty and students, and traveled to Tel Aviv for additional research meetings. When the day was through, I visited with my family. I watched the sun set from the Haifa beach and ate at wonderful cafes in the Carmel Center. And, when I had the courage, I tried to say a few words in Hebrew to a taxi driver or shop owner.

I knew from the moment I arrived that I would need to return soon. What is Israel’s allure? How can a place I’ve not been for 25 years feel so much like home? Why had I not visited for so long? I’m not certain how to answer these questions.  For now, I’m hanging onto my extra shekelim – I’ll need them for my next taxi ride from the Tel Aviv airport.

Click here to read Professor Miller-Hooks’ blog post about her first visit to the Technion.


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David Steffin, a 2012 graduate of the Technion American Medical School (TeAMS) program, recently wrote about his experiences at the Technion, as well as his current residency at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. Here’s what he had to say:

David Steffin with his Technion diploma.

I recently started as a pediatric resident at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. It so far has been an incredible experience. The hospital is in an area called Borough Park, a predominantly religious Jewish community, but it is also an area of vast cultural diversity, with Chinese, Eastern European, Sub-Saharan African, and Latino communities represented. This diverse community makes me fortunate to be a part of the Maimonides community. I have been shocked by the amount of diverse pathology we have had at Maimonides Medical center. As physicians here, we have to be familiar with all of the inherent diseases and treatment protocols in each of these these cultural groups. Moreover, we need to have language translation staff to make sure we adequately communicate to patients so they understand how they are being treated. I have been able to learn so much about the people that live in this area: their customs and the sources of their pride and history. Observing this, I am constantly reminded of the diverse cultural communities I lived around in Israel. My Israeli experience gave me an unique and open perspective and I find myself excited to see the differences in these groups as I interact with them at the hospital and in the neighborhood. Not only that, as I learn more about these cultural groups, I find that I am treating patients better, and I see how better understanding of the differences in moral and ethical principles with regards to these groups improves my communication with patients and helps to improve patient care.

Last week, I was reminded of how much I missed Israel when I helped an Israeli family on the pediatric floor of Maimonides, and it brought positive flashbacks of my Israeli experiences to life. That family was impressed to hear that I studied medicine in Israel, and even said they were excited to see me taking care of patients. When I tell faculty and staff here in NY that I studied medicine in Israel, I am really pleased by the amount of respect they have for my alma mater. It has been a touching expeirence, and made me so proud to come from Technion.

David Steffin with fellow TeAMS students.

It has been almost 2 months since I graduated. The time has flown by and I honestly cannot believe it has already been 2 weeks since I started my residency. It has been an incredible experience.  The pathology I’ve seen, the doctors I have worked with, and the responsibilities required of a resident just out of medical school has put medicine into perspective for me, even though I know there is a lot more to learn. It has been a truly exhausting experience, but coming from the Technion, I am happy to say I was well prepared for a lot of the challenges I’ve faced so far. We were pushed hard to read journal articles, to understand mechanisms and to understand science at the Technion. Utilizing all of that knowledge has paid off in dividends.

Although this has been an exciting an exhausting adventure so far in the past two weeks, the Technion has prepared me well for it. I am looking forward to my next month on the pediatric floor and will let you know how everything is going.

Until next time,

Dave Steffin, M.D., Technion American Medical Program (2012)

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