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Jewish Standard: BGU & NJIT Unveil Joint Institute

Jewish Standard: BGU & NJIT Unveil Joint Institute

October 3, 2022

Homeland & Cyber Security, Robotics & High-Tech

Jewish Standard —BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz jokes that he wants to put a bed in one of the offices of the 36-story Jersey City campus of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, to use as his home base on his visits to the area. That’s how smitten he is with the view across the Hudson River to the lower Manhattan skyline.

The Pennsylvania-bred president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has a much different, though no less dramatic, view from his own office, 5,700 miles away in Israel’s southern desert city, Beer-Sheva. Prof. Chamovitz was in Jersey City on September 19 for the ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opening the Institute for Future Technologies, a joint venture forged between the two universities.

Ribbon cutting ceremony of the BGU-NJIT Institute for Future Technologies

Through this collaboration, which began in 2021, BGU and NJIT will offer master’s and Ph.D. tracks in cyber technologies and environmental and civil engineering. The program includes opportunities for joint research and development, innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as student and faculty exchanges.

In March 2021, Prof. Chamovitz, Joel S. Bloom, who then was NJIT’s president, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a memorandum of understanding. “NJIT is one of the state’s premier STEM-focused universities, and BGU is one of the driving forces behind the success of Israel’s technology economy,” the governor said at the signing. “By joining together in this groundbreaking venture, NJIT and BGU will combine their expertise and track records in technological research and development to help strengthen the economic opportunity and tech leadership that I have long envisioned for our state.”

Prof. Chamovitz said the joint institute furthers a larger goal of increasing business ties between New Jersey and Israel. “Governor Murphy is very supportive of this collaboration in the hope that it will spawn industrial partnerships to further develop the tech system around Jersey City and Newark,” he said. “Just as BGU has a critical role in building the high-tech system of the Negev, NJIT has that same role in northern New Jersey.”

NJIT’s president, Teik Lim, whose background is in mechanical engineering, said the Institute for Future Technologies “was created at the right time and in the right place. If we do this right, it will open the whole worldwide to NJIT.”

Doug Seserman, CEO of Americans for Ben-Gurion University, sees potential for the project from an Israeli angle, calling the joint institute “21st century Zionism at its best,” a powerful platform to “demonstrate Israel’s value to the world” in counterpoint to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement in the academic arena. “In academic settings, you tend to have difficult BDS situations,” Seserman said.

“At NJIT, the number 1 school in New Jersey for upward mobility, the students include many people of color and minority populations that represent first-generation Americans, and they tend to be less familiar with Israel. Faculty and student exchanges are what relationships are built on, and these students have the potential to be great ambassadors in addition to great scientists, strengthening the relationship between Israel and the diaspora.”

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