Israel, like many other countries around the globe, is challenged to inspire young people to stick with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. With more than 600 Broadcom employees there, 90 percent of them engineers, Israel is striving to be part of Israel’s STEM solution.
A few years ago, Israel’s Ministry of Education tapped Broadcom Israel’s commitment and brain power to help bring project-based learning to middle school students.
Now, some 50 Broadcom engineers have answered the call to serve as volunteers in multiple locations throughout Israel. They give their time and expertise as mentors in the classroom and participate as judges of student science projects at the Israel National Middle School Science Fair, which is sponsored by the Broadcom Foundation. This year’s science fair is on May 19 at Hebrew University.
“We are honored to be asked by the Ministry of Education to assist with what is a global problem: getting kids excited about STEM,” said Meir Halberstam, director, finance and office services at Broadcom Israel. “In just a few years, we have grown our programs from a few volunteers to many in multiple locations and schools throughout Israel.”
“STEM learning is a priority for Israel, a country known as the ‘Start-Up Nation’ for its wealth of technical talent,” said Shlomo Markel, vice president of Broadcom Israel.
“By expanding the reach of our programs to students from all cultures throughout our country, we hope to increase the talent pipeline of children who will someday be the next inventors and innovators,” Markel said.
Here’s a look at some of the work Broadcom volunteers in Israel are doing:
• Ilanit Drori, an office services & communications manager charged with coordinating STEM activities in Israeli and Naama Efrat, an operations specialist in Hertzliya, marshaled Broadcom engineers to judge science projects during the National Middle School Science Fair at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Two winners from the competition have been selected as 2015 delegates to the Broadcom MASTERS International program.
• Natalie Zelicha, a senior software developer and Daniel Bengaev, a principal hardware engineer in Airport City, mentored and coached fifth and sixth-grade students together with teachers on their science fair projects. The students invented a high-tech walking stick for the elderly that they named the “Multitastick” that includes a phone with location-tracking, a light and a radio but also can function as an umbrella.
• Sarah Elizedek, a senior technical writer in Hertzliya and Yuri Miroshnik, a director of IC engineering in Airport City, work with three, all-girl teams in the town of Modi’in to use project-based learning to tackle concepts such as electricity, conductivity, vacuums and Ohm’s law. The girls have a few projects in the works, including a universal bottle opener that uses a lever to pierce the lid and releases the vacuum seal, an adjustable garbage pail for wet and dry waste and a device to check if an appliance has a short circuit.
“I feel we’ve contributed a lot to these kids, helping them ‘think beyond’ and find answers to questions through their natural intense curiosity,” said Zelicha. “It was a great experience for us as Broadcom volunteers as well.”
Anna Yungi, a science teacher at the Yadlin School, is seeing the benefits when young people interact with Broadcom professionals:
“Exposing our students to working with Broadcom engineers has increased their natural curiosity and creativity and will unquestionably affect their future goals and dreams,” she said.
Broadcom’s Halberstam, together with his team, is working with senior officials at the Ministry of Education to coordinate STEM outreach in cooperation with other high-tech companies in the region.
“To see this program grow and students excel in STEM gives us great satisfaction,” he said. “I hope it inspires Broadcom employees to get involved, especially because there is a need to teach and encourage the next generation of engineers.”