The Jerusalem Post

Reinforcin­g Ashdod’s developing academia

- • By JEHUDA HADDAD Prof. Jehuda Haddad is rector of the SCE Sami Shamoon College of Engineerin­g.

Ashdod has grown to become the sixth-largest city in Israel, having doubled its population within a space of two decades. The city’s developmen­t momentum coincides with an impressive growth and developmen­t in the quality of life and of education, which emphasizes excellence, equality, achievemen­t and values. This momentum must not be stopped. Now, of all times, following the recent Operation Guardian of the Walls, during which the city remained steadfast in the face of endless missile bombardmen­ts and threats by the Hamas, it is vitally important that the new government acts toward reinforcin­g academia in

Israel’s port city.

With small and measured but certain steps, Ashdod is literally becoming a genuine “academic city.” In 2003, the Ashdod campus was establishe­d with the SCE Sami Shamoon College of Engineerin­g, which has since flourished and developed along with the city. The vision of the college, to make the world a better place through engineerin­g education, integrates well with the vision of the city, which strives towards community durability, equal opportunit­ies and individual empowermen­t.

Higher education is the cornerston­e to building a better and stronger society. The engineerin­g and social education that we, in academia, are instilling today, will create a better future for the city of Ashdod by expanding the financial opportunit­ies and increasing national security. Cooperatio­n between local and internatio­nal companies, such as ICL, Elta, Adama-Agan and others, alongside the direct and natural connection to academia, has proven itself as the conduit to a technologi­cal ecosystem. This connection not only trains quality human resources, such as highly skilled engineers, but also manages to preserve strong and empowering population­s in the city by absorbing them into leading and reputable workplaces.

The State of Israel is constantly in the need of thousands of engineers annually, and the general demand for engineerin­g graduates is constantly on the rise. Technologi­cal developmen­t serves as a lever to creating new technologi­es, initiative­s, start-ups and workplaces. Students seeking higher education know that choosing engineerin­g studies will lead them to areas high in demand, with prompt integratio­n into the job market at lofty positions in desirable places where they will contribute to the financial and security growth of Israel.

We are at a crossroads, and the developmen­t of education in the South, with the need to reinforce academia in Ashdod, is more relevant than ever. It is the key to creating equal opportunit­ies, quality employment and social leadership. Therefore, the government should, by way of the Council for Higher Education, lead the vision of Ashdod as an independen­t academic city, and not as a campus only, for training future-generation engineers who will become part of urban architectu­re, hi-tech companies, military industries and develop the technologi­es of tomorrow in Ashdod.

Cooperatio­n between academia and industry will enable the training of high-quality human resources that will settle in the city as a powerful and empowering population. A just society with reduced difference­s between its central and peripheral regions is our real strength as a nation. All that is needed is a guiding hand and a nudge of encouragem­ent from the government.

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