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IBM R&D Labs in Israel News

So that's what engineers do

Israeli IBMers introduce engineering to kids

Engineers shape our world – the cars we drive, the machines we use for work and play, and the devices we use to communicate with one another. In a fascinating week of events throughout Israel, hundreds of students learned what it takes to be an engineer from the scientists of IBM's R&D Labs.

Researchers and developers of the Haifa Research Lab (HRL) led the events, known collectively as EWeek, which took place at the IBM sites in Petach Tikva and Haifa. Several IBMers also delivered talks at schools throughout the country to small classes and crowded assemblies. All in all, nearly 800 students participated in EWeek activities in Israel. Almost all the students who attend the EWeek activities in Israel are ninth-graders. That's a crucial fact.

Getting on the right track

"At the beginning of tenth grade, Israeli students select an area of concentration they focus on for the next three years," explained Gili Aizen, administration leader for EWeek programming in Israel. "In EWeek, we introduce them to the engineering profession and explain to students what they need to do to prepare themselves for a career in technology. It's a big effort putting it all together, but I think it's really worth it."

Sara Porat, the site coordinator of Eweek activities for the Haifa Research Lab and a researcher in the Industry Solutions Group, explained that this year's programs maintained and extended the expanded format introduced in 2008.

"EWeek events in Israel really get teens thinking about engineering as a possible profession," she said. "Both the large-scale events and the smaller presentations show the kids how engineers really keep the world moving."

While describing the engineering and technology fields, lecturers presented a wide variety of topics to the teens. In addition to hearing an overview of IBM's activities in Israel, IBMers explained how to use your cell phone as a personal memory organizer, how innovations turn into patents, and how solving puzzles and riddles can increase your brain power. The students came from a wide variety of backgrounds – Jewish, Arab, and Druze, secular and religious. More than 40% of the kids attending the lectures were girls, and nearly 10% were minorities.

"The EWeek activities in Israel were part of a annual global effort by IBM to interest teens in a technology career," said Porat. "If the smiling faces and pointed questions of the excited teens attending were any indication, Israeli IBMers achieved that goal decidedly."