Monday, November 28, 2011

Technion & Beyond: President Peretz Lavie, cRAzYEnginEerS



[Extracts]
Born in Petach Tikva, Prof. Peretz Lavie graduated from Tel Aviv University with a BA in Psychology and Statistics and completed his PhD studies in Physiological Psychology at the University of Florida in 1974. Following this Professor Lavie was a post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California in San Diego.
In 1975 Professor Lavie joined the Technion as a lecturer and there has been no looking back for him ever since. He is also a member of the American Sleep Research Society and a member and was the Vice-President of the European Sleep Research Society.
CE: Could you tell us about exciting engineering research projects going on across Technion?
Prof. Lavie: It is difficult to pick just a few engineering projects currently performed at Technion because there are so many. However, the following are two of the projects that stand out as novel and imaginative with a potential for a technological breakthrough. The first is autonomous indoor navigation for micro air vehicles (MAVs). Researchers from the Faculties of Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science are meeting the challenge of autonomous, indoor navigation of rotary-wing vehicles (helicopters). The operation of MAVs can be life-saving in scenarios such as search-and-rescue, surveillance, and biological/chemical agent detection. Indoor flying is complicated by two significant unknowns: There is no a priori knowledge of the terrain and there is no external positioning aid such as GPS. Any collision between an MAV and another object can easily result in an immediate mission abort. The researchers in the Technion Autonomous Systems Program are writing the autonomous navigation algorithms that take the information provided by the laser scanner on the helicopter, creating, in effect, the ideal flight path as it proceeds.  The second project is the Nanoscale Artificial Nose. Wouldn’t it be revolutionary if doctors could sniff out cancer? Prof. Hossam Haick of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering is developing the NA-NOSE – an artificial nose that will be able to detect cancer and other diseases at the early stages. The patient simply exhales into the non-invasive device and with an array of nano sensors the device will do its life-saving work. The researchers have shown that this “electronic nose” can distinguish between molecules found in the breath of cancer patients and those of healthy people.
CE: What is your vision for Technion University?
Prof. Lavie: A science and technology research university, among the world’s top dedicated to the creation of knowledge and the development of human capital and leadership, for the advancement of the State of Israel and all humanity.
CE What are the key factors that set Technion apart from other Universities in the world?
Prof. Lavie: Technion was founded in 1912 – this year we celebrate our cornerstone centennial – 36 years before the birth of the State of Israel in 1948, and is inextricably linked to the development and growth of the country, its flourishing economy and technological prowess. The key factor that sets Technion apart from other universities in the world is the unparalleled contribution of Technion graduates to the Israeli economy. Technion graduates have literally changed the economy of Israel from an agriculture-based economy, renowned for Jaffa oranges, to an economy based on high technology. 75% of Technion graduates are employed in the High-Tech sector, many of them in managerial and R&D positions. 42% have been involved with a start-up company and 25% hold at least one patent after graduation. Technion graduates founded, or run, 59 of the 121 Israeli companies registered on NASDAQ and run 11 of the 12 largest export companies in Israel. I do not believe that there are other examples where a single university has had such a profound impact on the economy of a country. Add to this our three Nobel Laureates in Chemistry and several landmark research achievements and you have what makes the Technion unique.

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  1. Most of my partners who came from Tel Aviv but studied in other universities there only have good praises for Technion. I believe it is their superior academe-industry linkages that make them ahead of the pack.

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