Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bar-Ilan University and Super Dimension Ltd.

Today we saw the cutting edge research going on at Bar-Ilan University and Super Dimension Ltd. (medical device company). We ended the day with an interesting lecture given by Professor Isaac Ben-Israel about how technology impacts Israel.
We departed this morning for Bar-Ilan University, which is located in Ramat Gan just east of Tel Aviv, to tour the campus and learn about its science and engineering programs. Bar-Ilan is non-secular, so all students are required to complete ethnic and religious history courses in Judaism to graduate.

A talk was given in the beginning of our visit by a professor working on robotics. He presented videos showing various robots developed by researchers inside and outside of Israel performing their specific tasks. The functionality of the robots ranged from juggling robots to beer catapults. He then went on to discuss the robots that his lab is developing, which included a robotic arm that responded to eye and head movement.

After this talk, we were given a tour of the rest of campus. The campus is public, and has recently received funds for major renovations. The construction on campus provided us with a unique opportunity to view the foundations of new buildings and learn how and why the architecture is implemented. We also toured various labs on campus, such as an acoustics and signal processing lab working on new techniques to limit background noise. We ate lunch at a nearby campus restaurant and then boarded the bus.

Our next stop was a company called Super Dimension Ltd. This company specializes in the research and design of medical devices. Specifically, it develops and markets minimally invasive devices that help diagnose and treat lung disease. We were given a presentation showing how Super Dimension uses new imaging techniques to produce a coherent picture of the lungs. These techniques allow doctors to easily navigate cameras through the lungs and locate cancerous tumors. Following the presentation we were allowed to see the equipment in action with a set of real human lungs. After this demonstration we headed back to the hotel.

Once back at the hotel, we ate dinner with Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, who subsequently delivered a talk to our group. In addition to working as a professor of mathematics and physics at Tel Aviv University, he is also a Major General in the Israeli Defense Forces and served in the Israeli parliament for two years. His talk centered on the role that technology plays in the problems of Israel. He highlighted the notion that technology has always been a double-edged sword, used for both good and evil. However, he pointed out that in the case of Israel, which is outnumbered by its enemies, technology is the only way to survive. He stressed the importance of Israeli technology in past military victories, and suggested that it would lead to similar economic victories for Israel.