September 18, 2019

Technion offers new grad course for English-speaking students

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is accepting applications for a new English-language international master’s program in systems engineering, which will feature Nobel Prize-winning faculty and developers of the Iron Dome defense system.

Underscoring the interdisciplinary program’s emphasis on the practical applications of designing and managing complex systems, students will visit Israeli startups, technological incubators and corporations.

“They will have the opportunity to interact with top figures from Israel’s science and tech communities,” said Avi Galor-Ginzburg, the founder of the program (technion-me-program.com) that will launch in October 2015. 

The Technion in Haifa is Israel’s elite science and technology university, consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world. It is also Israel’s oldest university.

The program — which will draw upon the university’s connections in Israel’s high-tech, engineering and defense sectors — will offer “foundation, core and advanced courses that develop expertise in the functional domains of engineering and technology management, as well as advanced courses that emphasize practical applications,” according to the university. 

Students wishing to learn or improve their Hebrew may enroll in an ulpan, an intense, immersion-style course originally developed to fast-track immigrants into Israeli society. 

While the main emphasis of the 15-month program is systems engineering, Jewish students may also enroll in one of two enrichment tracks, one in Jewish leadership and the other in the study of Jewish texts (the beit midrash). Although the engineering program is not limited to Jewish students, the enrichment tracks are tailored to them. 

Students in the Jewish leadership track will take seminars in Israeli studies, Judaism and leadership in order to develop a stronger connection to Judaism and to the Jewish state. The track offers informal educational and leadership experiences, volunteer opportunities, touring and interaction with Israelis. 

The beit midrash study track will take place at the nearby Or Vishua National Torah Center and be led by the center’s founder, Rabbi Eliyahu Zini, a mathematician and former Technion professor. 

The graduate program is open to students with an undergraduate degree in engineering and who have at least three years of engineering work experience.  

“The work experience is important because you’re talking about systems engineering, where the systems are complex structures, and a degree without experience isn’t enough,” said Galor-Ginzburg, who also serves as the vice president of a major high-tech company. “Learning how to manage or create the architecture of more complex systems involves other engineering disciplines and interacting with other engineers.”

Although work experience isn’t a prerequisite for systems engineering master’s programs in the United States, Galor-Ginzburg said, “Here we think it’s vital in order to design complex programs like the Iron Dome and David’s Sling,” two military defense systems developed by Israel and the U.S. 

Ella Blinderman, special project manager at the Technion’s division of continuing education, said the new English-language program offers the same curriculum as its Hebrew-language counterpart, but in an intensive 15 months rather than the two years it takes to complete the Hebrew program. 

Blinderman said the Hebrew program, which was established in 1997, boasts almost 1,000 graduates “who are well-known and successful in the industry. This is the first chance for students from abroad to get the same knowledge.” 

Oded Raviv, head of the Technion’s division of continuing education and external studies, said that if the Hebrew program is any indication, its English counterpart will be a career-changer for its 20 or so participants. 

“When we meet alumni, they tell us about the good jobs they have and the good salaries they earn,” he said.

Although Galor-Ginzburg said he can’t promise the students a job, he believes they will be sought after following their completion of the degree.

“The Technion is a great place for American students to gain practical skills for a successful career and explore to Israel. Graduates will get personalized connections to many leaders of Israel’s high-tech industry,” he said. 

The international master’s program in systems engineering costs $35,000; the beit midrash enrichment track costs an additional $6,500.