More than 250,000 Israelis are refugees in their own land, having been evacuated from the north and south of the country due to the Israel-Hamas war in the south and threats from Hezbollah in the north. The Technion is providing many with housing and other services and is offering a one-week robophysics program for outstanding 11th- and 12th-graders who have been displaced. 

Partnering with Atidim, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to bright young people from Israel’s underserved and marginalized communities, 30 high school students participated in a robophysics program created by the Technion’s Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The first student cohort hailed from Kiryat Shmona and other towns near the Lebanese border. Future cohorts are currently being organized by Atidim for students from the north and Gaza-border communities. 

“These are not the ideal conditions for learning, and it’s hard for all of us to concentrate these days, but I hope this program will give you a chance to take a break from the news and gain important knowledge in an immersive and enriching manner,” Professor Idit Keidar, dean of the faculty, said in her welcoming remarks to the first group. 

Robophysics explores the physical principles of how robots move in the real world. The Technion’s curriculum uses software, hardware, artificial intelligence, physics, and other related fields in an experimental and enjoyable way. The multiyear gifted student program, founded a decade ago by Ofer Danino, a Technion alumnus and entrepreneur, has been recognized by the Ministry of Education. Yale University partnered with the Technion to replicate the program in 2022. When the war broke out, the Technion decided to adapt the program, making it a one-week program accessible to outstanding high school students who were displaced from their homes. 

The outcome is a six-day, 45-hour curriculum that combines academic study with hands-on workshops and enrichment activities. The program includes room and board at the Technion. Participants who receive a grade of 85 or above are eligible to receive an academic credit that is valid if they pursue a degree at the faculty in the future and will also count as 45% of their physics matriculation grade. After completing the program, the students will receive long-term personal mentoring until they matriculate or are drafted in the army, as well as a subsidy for the psychometric (admission test required by Israel’s universities) preparation course.  

“The Technion has opened its heart and its campus, enabling the program’s participants to enjoy everything that this excellent institution has to offer, and we greatly appreciate this partnership,” said Meital Shaked, director of youth programs at Atidim. “I have no doubt that we will continue to collaborate in the future.”