Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
Yavneh engineers win national competition
Yavneh Academy of Dallas took home the grand prize at this year’s CIJE (Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education) Young Engineers Conference.
The conference, held in Los Angeles, attracted 48 teams representing the brightest young Jewish minds from across the country. A key part of the conference involved students presenting their extraordinarily creative projects to an esteemed panel of judges which included captains of industry, best-selling business authors, academics and entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and high-tech startup veterans, all of whom embody the spirit of Israel’s “Start Up Nation.”
The students spent a year designing, developing and testing their ideas and creating prototypes able to withstand the rigor of peer and mentor examination. Twelve Yavneh students are participating in the two-year program with Yavneh physics and math teacher, Brittany Pendleton. The curriculum has been developed by CIJE. The first year’s focus is on electrical engineering and the second year is on biomedical engineering. After the second year a new two-year cohort will be created. In the meantime, a coding class will be introduced at Yavneh this year.
The Yavneh team won the grand prize for developing technology for the autonomous detection of hazards within bodies of water. “The technology, when placed in a buoy, detects swimmers in distress by sensing and analyzing unusual body movement in the water and movements in the water caused by dangers such as sharks,” said a CIJE press release.
The creative minds who developed the technology were Vanessa Kibel ’18, David Cohen ’19 and Ezra Ruderman ’19. The winning team spoke about “believing in the importance to use whatever God-given talents they had in making a positive change in the world.” Cohen went on to say, “I am always looking to solve problems; wherever there is pain or suffering or need, I think of better solutions.” Ruderman went on to say, “I hope that this invention is a great first step in positively impacting people’s lives.” Kibel added, “I hope that our device raises awareness to prevent drowning and other ocean dangers and will hopefully save lives.”
Jason Cury, president of CIJE, opened the conference. He emphasized the uniqueness and relevance of CIJE’s programs in preparing Jewish students for the ever-changing 21st century world they will face after college. “Nobody knows precisely what jobs that will be around when you all graduate from college within the next 8-10 years which is why it’s so important to develop the skills which will be required, and to be prepared for whatever challenges and opportunities that present themselves.”
Rabbi Maury Grebenau, principal of Yavneh Academy, echoed Mr. Cury’s statement, “The CIJE curriculum was exciting for us and a great fit for our program because it not only helped to cultivate STEM skills but also required students to budget and pitch their idea to others. The skills being built are life skills which will ensure our students are successful in the future.”
More exciting things came out of Yavneh’s trip to the CIJE conference. Yonatan Weintraub, co-founder of Space IL, the Israeli organization aiming to be just the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon gave the keynote address. He also took a selfie with the crowd that will accompany the spacecraft to the moon. It was also announced that the winning biomedical device next year will come with a scholarship gift and the opportunity to be mentored by scientists from the extraordinary Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel. Yavneh Academy students look forward to defending their title at the CIJE Young Engineers Conference, 2018.
— Submitted by Erica Morenoff