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IBM R&D Labs in Israel News

Reaching for the Top

What do HRL researchers, Technion students, and the first Israeli to climb the peak of Mount Everest have in common?

April 10, 2008 - At an exciting event at the Technion this past week, IBM introduced computer science students to some cutting-edge technologies being developed at the Haifa Research Lab (HRL) and treated them to a talk by Doron Erel, the first Israeli to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Naturally, the choice of speaker was no coincidence. The IBM student day at the Technion progressed with a short but exciting agenda of the diverse ways that different kinds of adventurers and explorers do the same activities: dream, identify their targets, build a team to reach their objective, then use teamwork and decision-making methods to reach their ultimate goals.

Before the official start of the event, HRL Director Oded Cohn and several HRL senior managers met with a select group of Technion students studying for M.Sc. and PhD degrees. Gathered in a bright room filled with refreshments, the students and managers introduced themselves and asked questions to get acquainted. A lively discussion ensued, covering some of the 'cool' technologies that have come our of HRL in recent years. Some of these examples include the text to-speech technology used in Honda cars to help on-board computers speak in a more natural way, HRL's verification tools that are used to test every chip that comes out of IBM, and the multicast messaging service recently adopted by Reuters and known as today's fastest messaging technology in the financial markets.

The Technion students were impressed by HRL's unique culture as one of the few Israeli IT companies where researchers are encouraged to broach their new ideas and explore areas for further development. With close to 40% of its technical staff having doctorate degrees, HRL is truly unique in its position as a bridge between academia and industry. One excellent example of this is a new joint research collaboration recently launched by HRL, the Rambam Medical Center, and the Technion Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management. The three organizations have joined forces to define the flow of procedures in emergency rooms and use technology to make the processing of critical patients more efficient and timely. The project is a new type of Open Collaborative Research, where all three parties have agreed to contribute the intellectual property developed to the open community, and see the improvement of our healthcare practices as the real profit for everyone.

A buffet style brunch and poster session in the building's main lobby captured the attention of many students, who approached HRL researchers with questions while enjoying a bite. Once the sandwiches and cakes had all but disappeared, the students went into the auditorium to hear Oded provide an overview of HRL and the various areas of expertise at the lab. Whether optimization of compilers, complex event processing for fraud detection, or license plate recognition for the Stockholm toll roads, HRL has a long list of projects with 'research that matters'.

After Oded concluded his talk, Doron Erel described his drive for excellence and experience in overcoming challenges. In a riveting description of his climb to the peak of Mount Everest, Erel shared breathtaking photos and video clips that left no doubt of his strong determination and ability to forge ahead no matter what the conditions. As he so aptly stated at the conclusion of his talk, "With meticulous planning and the power of teamwork, everything is possible—you just have to keep going even when it's only one slow step at a time".