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Archive for October, 2013

Adam Rubinsohn, a Temple University student from Newtown, PA was unofficially proclaimed a “citizen of Israel” in Nepal in August.

Although he has never been to Israel, Adam Rubinsohn, a Temple University student from Newtown, PA, was unofficially proclaimed a “citizen of Israel” in Nepal this past August. Rubinsohn, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, spent part of his summer break in Nepal with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology chapter of the international organization Engineers Without Borders (EWB). The Technion, located in Haifa, established its EWB chapter in 2007 to give engineering students the opportunity to use their skills to help improve lives in developing nations. The work was challenging, but Rubinsohn still managed to find time to consume what he describes as inordinate amounts of hummus made by the Israeli students. So much so that they declared he had passed the immigration test and was now a real Israeli.

His journey began in Philadelphia where he was invited to an American Technion Society dinner hosted by the organization’s associate director, Linda Richman, the mother of a friend. At the dinner, he met Professor Mark Talesnick of the Technion’s Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who founded the EWB chapter at the university.

“The EWB chapter at Temple is still in the early stages and isn’t ready to send students overseas,” Rubinsohn says. “The Technion chapter offered me the best opportunity to travel abroad away from an academic setting and learn to work with others to help bring technology to people who don’t have access to it because of lack of basic infrastructure.”

Along with ten students from the Technion, Adam and 25 students from other schools around the world participated in the Technion’s EWB program in Nepal. In the village of Dapcha Khanaltok, Rubinsohn and his team worked with the local population to assess their agricultural and transportation problems.  Rubinsohn says, “EWB taught us that you have to talk to the people and find out what they really need, not what outsiders think they need.”

The team also spent time at the Katmandu University campus in Dhulikhel where they analyzed their findings and collected secondary data to determine the best solutions based on what they had observed and what the villagers had told them. These included suggestions for implementing drip irrigation, fog harvesting, and establishing a car-sharing co-operative.

“I think we made a difference,” Rubinsohn says.  “We gathered a lot of information for the villagers, who are very capable people, and they will really be able to use the technical knowledge that we gave to them.”

The Nepal experience confirmed Rubinsohn’s goal to work in the field of renewable energy.  He says, “In the winter in Nepal, you can be in a blackout up to 14 hours a day, so I’d really like to get into solar or wind power which is crucial to trying to build electrical capacity in the developing world.”

Another goal of his is to visit Israel. He says, “After working with the Technion, I want nothing other than to work with them again. It’s a great university and a great faculty.” And according to the Technion students he worked with in Nepal, his incredible humus consumption has already made him a citizen.

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