“Every time I’d bring him a project, he’d hand it back full of comments and tell me, ‘you can do better.’” Aerospace engineer Inbal Kreiss ’88 fondly recalled that lesson learned as a student from Technion Professor Yeshayahu Talmon. And that advice helped shape her career.  

Kreiss, a graduate of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering, is today head of innovation at the Systems, Missiles, and Space Division of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI), the nation’s prominent aerospace and aviation corporation. Since joining IAI in 2000, she has held leadership positions on projects that have contributed to Israel’s security and is widely regarded as a leader in Israel’s aerospace and defense industry. 

“Prof. Talmon set the bar high and showed me that I can set my expectations higher and higher,” Kreiss said. “And the Technion opened doors, introduced me to the top level of experts, and trained me to be a professional.” 

Born in Israel, Kreiss understands that “part of being Israeli is doing something significant to contribute to the defense of our country.” Her father was the head intelligence officer in the 1976 Entebbe raid, which freed Israeli hostages hijacked to Uganda. “Israel’s space achievements are elements of statehood — the courage to be first, to dream big, and to strive for technological superiority,” she said. “The space industry is a wonderful example of the Startup Nation, which I call the Innovation Nation.”  

Kreiss received her Technion bachelor’s degree, graduating with honors while finding time to do folk dancing. She received an Executive Master’s of Business Administration from Tel Aviv University, and continued her studies as a visiting researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From 1988 to 2000, she worked in the Directorate of Research and Development of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and then joined IAI. By some estimates, one-half its employees are Technion alumni. 

From the get-go, Kreiss was central to IAI’s defense technology development. She led and managed the design programs of the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile defense systems. Later, she led the spacecraft design and assembly team for Israel’s first mission to the moon, Beresheet. Even though the spacecraft crashed upon landing, it achieved lunar orbit, and “inspired young children to pursue STEM and space fields,” Kreiss said. What started as a dream of three young entrepreneurs “ended with an entire nation following every maneuver all the way to the moon. For our nation, all it takes for a dream to come true is to dream big— and a lot of determination.”  

Kreiss’ career is punctuated with many proud moments, such as serving as chairwoman of the 2022 Rakia Mission, Israel’s first venture to the International Space Station (ISS). Rakia gave scientists and entrepreneurs opportunities to test space-related technologies in the unique atmospheric conditions of outer space. The selection process to determine which experiments would travel to the ISS was competitive, but the Technion won three spots. “The Mission positioned Israel as a prime player on the global space map, and again the Technion was a key player,” said Kreiss. “The Rakia Mission is a great example of Israeli chutzpa.” 

Married to Yitshak Kreiss, Director General of Sheba Medical Center, Kreiss modestly dismisses references to them in Israeli newspapers as “the scientific power couple.” “That’s only what’s written in the news. We are doing what we do, balancing our work with our life,” she said. “I spent my entire career breathing, living, and dreaming space … bringing together scientists and engineers, entrepreneurs, and innovators, who collectively make the frontier of space accessible.”  

Photo courtesy of Inbal Kreiss. Source: https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3878832,00.html