From the President

(l-r) President Peretz Lavie and Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Credit: Filip Wolak

It is always most gratifying to publicly acknowledge one's patrons, even when their support is not contingent upon such recognition. We were blessed with such an opportunity on March 16, 2016, when we awarded Michael R. Bloomberg, three-term New York City Mayor and philanthropist, with an Honorary Doctorate.

Mayor Bloomberg was honored for his 2011 vision in opening a channel of active collaboration between Technion and New York City, through the selection of the Cornell-Technion bid for the establishment of a new ‘School for Genius’ on Roosevelt Island.

To build a world-class research institute, you need a visionary leader who can look far into the future. Michael Bloomberg was that person for Technion. Because of his foresight, the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute today leverages a synergy between its parent institutions to create leaders in New York who will develop innovative technology and solutions to benefit humanity, establishing the City in a leading position for the 21st century and beyond.

Bloomberg reciprocated the compliment when he responded, "The Technion is an incarnation of that quintessential Israeli idea that nothing is impossible. It's an idea that Israel and New York City share. It’s what has made both centers of innovation and invention, and it is what has allowed both to respond to adversity with strength.”

That strength is not recognized by Bloomberg alone. Going through our gateway to the world, Ben Gurion International Airport, en route to a convention in Seoul, South Korea, I was proud to witness Technion achievements and alumni innovations among the 60 "Israeli discoveries and developments that have changed the world" selected for display by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Space. Indeed, we have been able to honor some of these alumni already, such as Rafi Mehoudar and Amit Goffer, and we are giving Dov Moran - inventor of the "disk-on-key" memory stick, an Honorary Doctorate this June during the Board of Governors meeting.

“The Technion is an incarnation of that quintessential Israeli idea that nothing is impossible. It's an idea that Israel and New York City share. It’s what has made both centers of innovation and invention, and it is what has allowed both to respond to adversity with strength.” - Former NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

At the International Presidential Forum on Global Research Universities in Seoul, I gave the keynote lecture on "Technion's contribution to society and the economy in Israel." There, I related how Technion, in addition to striving for excellence, has always believed that education and literacy are the main tools to narrow the gaps in Israeli society. More than a century ago, when the Technion vision was merely the province of a few "crazy dreamers," it was already clear that the institution that they sought to establish in Israel would be open to all, regardless of religion, ethnicity, political opinion, or gender. This fundamental principle continues to guide us today, as we invest considerable resources to promoting the integration of minorities at Technion.

And addressing society in the rest of world, Technion is thrilled to have launched a new initiative together with RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network. In an ever-changing world, we need to find new and relevant ways to connect younger generations of the Jewish people with Israel. What better way to do so than a thought-provoking, fun competition that has a strong STEM education focus? To this end, we initiated the Technion Jewish Day School Challenge. The mission: to build a Passover-themed Rube Goldberg machine - a contraption that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task.

More than 600 students from 41 Jewish day schools - located in Europe, North America, Australia, and Africa - participated in the Challenge. Across the globe, students followed a rigorous rubric, which called for the machines to ultimately reveal a Seder plate - inspired by Technion students' 2015 Rube Goldberg machine that told the Passover story in a most imaginative if convoluted way.

I congratulate all those who participated, and I hope to see them enrolled as Technion students in a few years' time.