Olin wins grant for program in Israel

| Contributing Reporter

Thanks to a grant sponsored by the Israeli government, students in the Olin Business School can now learn about research and development on Israeli soil.

With the creation of a new study abroad program, the business school will send students to attend classes at the Interdisciplinary Center, which is a private university in Israel, and intern at Israeli companies. It will culminate in each student writing an applied research paper with an Olin faculty member.

Masa, a group within the government-sponsored Jewish Agency of Israel, gave the grant to eight schools across the United States. This reflects a national trend of increasing Israeli-American exchange programs, with many being sponsored by Israel’s leaders.

The program is only slated to run once, but there may be more opportunities in the future.

The University itself has increased its presence in Israel over the past several years, including several cultural study-abroad programs, a trip for engineering students and a trip for business school students.

Steve Malter, assistant dean for student development and strategic initiatives, teaches Business in Israel, a course open to all students that was created last year in response to a large level of student interest. Over spring break, students traveled to Israel, where they met with many high-level personnel in the Israeli business and finance world, including the CEO of the Israeli stock exchange and a member of the Israeli prime minister’s National Economic Council.

“Everyone here in St. Louis kept opening doors for connections, since this community is so tied with Israel,” Malter said.

While there are many other opportunities for students in the business school to study abroad, Malter feels that Israel will be an important addition to the list.

“Israel is at the forefront of new research and technology,” Malter said. “To give you an idea, behind the U.S. it has the most listings in NASDAQ.”

Malter also believes that spending a semester in Israel will provide students with exposure to a valuable culture.

“I think the semester abroad will be a wonderful opportunity to learn about Israel in a different light,” Malter said. “The usual programs are cultural or religious, but the spring break trip was secular, though we did visit important sites to the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. It was a different way of looking at the country.”

Junior Jake Lewis, a student who not only participated in Malter’s class but also went back over the summer to intern at a small investment firm, agrees.

“Malter did a great job of getting together speakers,” Lewis said. “It showed us a side of Israel we wouldn’t have gotten to see otherwise.”

Arye Nehorai, Electrical & Systems Engineering Department chair and professor, also organized a secular trip to Israel for several undergraduate students in the engineering school. Over spring break, the students went to the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, where they participated in studies and saw cutting edge technologies being developed.

“I wanted to inspire students to take what they saw from one of the top technological institutes in the world and bring it back here,” Nehorai said. “But I also wanted to share the culture with them, and show them how different universities function.”

The Israeli government did not sponsor the Technion program, as Nehorai and several colleagues set it up in a single week.

“Once they heard what I was trying to do, the people there were incredibly helpful. They were excited to have us visit,” he said. “And the feeling was mutual.”

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