Winners of the Yanai Prize for Excellence in Academic Education – Role Models at Technion
Eight faculty members were awarded the Yanai Prize for Excellence in Academic Education and the Yanai Teaching Excellence Award. The prize for Outstanding Faculty was awarded to the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering
The Yanai Prize for Excellence in Academic Education was awarded this week for the eighth consecutive time to five outstanding faculty members from different Technion faculties: Assoc. Prof. Daniel Orenstein of the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Assoc. Prof. Adi Salzberg of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Assoc. Prof. Keren Censor-Hillel of the Faculty of Computer Science, Assoc. Prof. Daniella Raveh of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, and Assoc. Prof. Avi Schroeder of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering. The Yanai Excellence in Teaching Prize was awarded to Assoc. Prof. Roee Amit of the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Asst. Prof. Yael Yaniv of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, and Asst. Prof. Roi Reichart of the Davidson Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management. The prize for Outstanding Faculty was awarded to the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering.
The Yanai Prize for Excellence in Academic Education was designed to improve the level of teaching and the attitude towards students at Technion. It is awarded, “as a token of gratitude and appreciation to the faculty members, exemplifying their continued contribution to teaching and for their efforts to strengthen the students’ involvement and sense of belonging to Technion.” The ceremony was held in the presence of the donors Moshe and Rachel Yanai, President Prof. Peretz Lavie, and Chairman of the Technion Council Gideon Frank.
Moshe Yanai, a Technion graduate in Electrical Engineering, who donated $12 million to establish the prize together with his wife Rachel, said at the event: “I studied at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, which is receiving the prize today, and in my opinion, this is a tremendous revolution. When I was here in the early 70s, the attitude towards students was not the same as it is today. In those days we wanted the faculty to talk to us, to understand us, and it didn’t happen. In recent years, along with Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie, we have led a revolution in changing the relationship between faculty and students. And to you, the prizewinners, I say that the main reward is not prestige and money but your opportunity to change and influence people’s lives.”
“Soon I will end my tenure as president of the Technion,” Prof. Peretz Lavie said at the ceremony. “When I am asked about the important milestones during this period, I note the meeting with Moshe Yanai as one of them. We met for the first time nine and a half years ago, and that meeting led to the foundation of the Yanai Prize and a dramatic improvement in the level of teaching and the regard for students at Technion. The Yanai Prize, and the efforts of the management and faculty members, have catapulted the Technion from last place in the national student survey to first place regarding student satisfaction. We have kept first place for three years now. This is a real revolution that the Yanai Prize winners – who see teaching as a mission and not as a duty – contribute greatly to.”
Prize Committee Chair Prof. Hagit Attiya, said that “the prize winners are role models on campus. Each one of them contributed deeply to the training of hundreds of students. When we read what their students wrote about them, they all noted the change that these lecturers made to their lives.”
Prof. Avi Schroeder, faculty member of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering, spoke on behalf of the laureates. He said that, “the Technion administration posed a tremendous challenge to the faculty when it decided that the Technion must lead not only in groundbreaking studies, but in every field in Israeli society, and especially in the quality of training and teaching of the next generation of engineers and engineers. Just as medicine needs to be precise and personalized to every person, so does teaching.
“The winners, together with many of Technion’s outstanding faculty members, have made it their goal to make the latest knowledge available to all students using the most innovative academic methods. Our role as a nation is to encourage the next generation to ask questions, to challenge, to doubt, to aspire, and to establish a new level of knowledge and understanding. This is the goal of education and learning – to create a new generation of engineers who will dare, strive more and succeed.”
The prize for Outstanding Faculty was awarded to the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering.
The prize committee wrote that this is the largest faculty at Technion and the largest engineering in Israel, with more than 2,200 students. Over the course of its 80 years of existence, the faculty has trained some 15,000 graduates who have “led the transformation of Israel from an agricultural country to a high-tech nation, and who today comprise the backbone of the high-tech and defense industries. The teaching structure of the faculty is designed to fulfill two goals of its educational vision: training engineers for a long-term career in an evolving industry, and preparing the next generation of academic researchers.”
Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering Prof. Nahum Shimkin said that, “graduate of the faculty, Moshe Yanai, can look on with satisfaction at the study environment today, and today’s students can happily look forward to the professional challenges of tomorrow. The faculty educates a huge number of students and there is a high student-faculty ratio. This reality is challenging, but we manage to maintain the quality of teaching through a joint effort of faculty and staff. We will continue to advance teaching methods and strive to maintain our position in the top echelons of research and teaching.”
About Moshe Yanai:
Moshe Yanai, from Kfar Yechezkel and a graduate of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Technion (1975), has led several revolutions in the past 4 decades in the world of information storage. After joining EMC in 1987, he led a move that transformed the company from a mid-sized manufacturer of computer memory expansion into the world’s leading information storage company for large enterprises. He repeated his success when he returned to Israel, with the foundation in 2003 of XIV, which was acquired in 2007 by IBM. Yanai’s creativity led to the registration of 40 patents in his name. He has contributed greatly to the advancement of technological research at the Technion and has helped numerous Israeli start-up companies. Yanai won the prestigious status of EMC Fellow and IBM Fellow.