Students at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa will help Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) to develop and launch a nanosatellite that will enter low-altitude orbit around the moon and collect data using a payload of scientific instruments.
The cooperation agreement with the space division at IAI has just been signed, and the student-performed project will begin in four months. It is expected to continue until it reaches completion in a few years.
IAI’s space division will help in several ways, including the provision of space engineers to help define, characterize and closely mentor the students’ mission. Students taking part in the project will also be taken on tours of IAI’s space labs and facilities where satellites undergo experiments in an environment simulating outer space. At the end of the process, the students will be partners in launching the nano-satellite.
The joint project is the culmination of a faculty-wide process striving to balance two fields – aeronautics and outer space. According to faculty dean Prof. Tal Shima, “while in the past only about 10% of the faculty syllabus was dedicated to space, over the past few years there has been an effort to change this and reach a more equal balance between the two fields. To achieve this. we updated the faculty curriculum and we are currently in the midst of the process of hiring new staff members with expertise in outer space. Cooperation with IAI’s space facility will allow us to expose students to additional joint projects with IAI focused on outer space. This is a fascinating field where activity in Israel and the world is stepping up and I hope to see as many students as possible focusing on it.”
“The project will allow students to become partners in a project with the industry and help them reach the end of their studies prepared to be integrated into Israel’s developing space industry,” said Prof. Gil Yudilevitch, who initiated and leads the cooperation on the faculty. On IAI’s side, the project will be headed by the faculty alumnus Niko Adamsky, who today serves as a space engineer in IAI’s space division.
Shlomi Sudri, vice president and general manager of IAI’s space division said during the signing ceremony that the IAI “is leading a process to strengthen cooperation with the Technion through a project for students in the field of nano-satellites. This will open a whole new world for them, a world that includes innovative system design. They will be able to gain experience in engineering a unique system in the field of space exploration. The dimension of space necessitates engineering and system capabilities with specialized knowledge. For the students, this is an opportunity to integrate into the field of space in Israel, to be exposed to the wide industry working on outer space, and to get a taste of the engineering and infrastructure capabilities that exist in IAI.”
The agreement was signed shortly after a delegation of senior IAI officials, headed by Boaz Levy, the president and CEO of IAI, who is a graduate of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, visited the Technion and met with Technion president Prof. Uri Sivan and the deputy president of research, Prof. Kobi Rubinstein. IAI’s delegation also included Guy Bar Lev, interim director of the systems, missiles and space division, and Sudri.
Sivan said that “the connection between industry and academia is important and fruitful for both sides, and connecting with a significant and large entity such as IAI is an important step. The interface between academia and industry is changing fast, and the Technion is investing great efforts in being established in Israel and internationally. We are working to promote close research cooperation and to turn the Technion into a hub for many diverse industries – a platform where industry and academia meet. We are quickly working to commercialize technologies that originated on campus. The past year has been a record one for the Technion in establishing startup companies. Another expression of the strengthening ties comes in establishing specialized routes for learning and vocational training for people in the industry who are interested in lifelong learning.”
IAI President and CEO Boaz Levy said: “As a Technion graduate, I have accompanied projects and different mentoring programs over the years. I am excited by the existing and future cooperation between IAI and the Technion. We must strengthen cooperation with the Technion, especially the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, which is unique to its kind in Israel and which holds a leadership position among similar faculties worldwide. Increasing our cooperation with the Technion produces added value to both sides and will help us strengthen and integrate in creating groundbreaking, challenging and leading technology in Israel and abroad. To this end, it is important we formulate together the image of the engineer we envision – an involved engineer with system-wide perspective and deep business understanding and research capabilities.”