Stationed on the front lines in Gaza without access to a computer didn’t stop doctoral student Major Daniel Widerker from pursuing his science.  

Major Widerker ’15, M.S. ’19, was deployed with his battalion when he got word his research paper was accepted into the prestigious scientific journal Advanced Materials Technologies, pending corrections. He finished up the old-fashioned way — putting pen to paper — marking a particularly bright moment for a combat soldier in the midst of war. 

A self-described “man of the people and a scientist,” Major Widerker, who serves as commander of Company C in the 749th Engineering Battalion, works with Professor Moran Bercovici in the Technion Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, specializing in microfluidics. The paper describes a new method for 3D printing on a micron scale of different metals that combine into one structure. He is also part of a team creating telescopes and other optical devices in space and other microgravity conditions.  

“Your support not only throughout our many years together but specifically during these hectic times, has been a saving grace not only to my scientific career, but more importantly, my peace of mind,” Major Widerker wrote to his supervisors Prof. Bercovici and Professor Govind Kaigala, who is from the University of British Columbia. “The symbolism of the (Hanukkah) holiday is now clearer than ever, because we came to drive out darkness.”  

He continued to thank his Technion Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and the entire Technion community for their “support and clear position regarding the importance of the task … and sensitivity to the students who are now fighting and will return to the laboratories and classrooms.”  

The Technion is scheduled to resume classes on January 14, 2024, two weeks later than the other major Israeli universities. That decision was made to accommodate students who will still be on reserve duty. The Technion has also implemented cash grants to students who have served for at least 30 cumulative days, full exemption from dormitory rent for October and November, special academic exemptions, and emotional support and guidance counseling. “Two thousand five hundred students left everything behind … to ensure our right to a life of security and tranquility in this country,” said Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan. “It’s important that each and every one of them knows that the entire Technion community is mobilized for their sake.”