A delegation of students from The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology was touring the United States earlier this month and one student, Shimon Sheiba visited Portland on March 6.
Shimon has long sought to bridge the gap between theory and practice. In high school he helped launch a math center that followed up theoretical lessons with a practice tutorial. Earning his bachelor’s degree at the Technion, where he made the Dean’s list, Shimon started a similar lab for a data mining course. He worked in industry for several years at Intel Israel. Now, as a master’s student in the field of natural language processing in the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management, Shimon works with Assistant Professor Uri Shalit and Clalit, Israel’s largest health care system, to create machine learning technology that tailors medical treatments for chronic diabetes to individual patients.
We posed some questions to Shimon during his brief visit to Oregon:
ORJL: What is the purpose of your trip to the United States?
SHIMON: We had the privilege of representing this fine Institute and of sharing our personal story about our journey to and at the Technion as well as sharing our research and perspective with the inspiring community of the Technion overseas.
ORJL: Have you been to the United States before? If not, what are some of the misconceptions you had, now that you’ve arrived?
SHIMON: It was my first time visiting the United States indeed, and I had no clue how pleasant the people are—perfect strangers greet you and smile towards you in the street. It makes you feel like you belong there.
ORJL: How many states are you going to visit?
SHIMON: We started in New York and toured the west coast including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco (including Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, Stanford University), Seattle and Portland.
ORJL: Have you always lived in Israel?
SHIMON: Yes, I was born and raised in Israel.
ORJL: How do you think your experience at the Technion has impacted you and your future endeavors?
SHIMON: Where do I start? The Technion opened my mind to fascinating fields, made me realize that I love learning theory in depth and solving problems, and allowed me to discover the passion that I was looking for: Artificial Intelligence.
At the Technion, I found the best friends and future business partners for life. The most important aspect of my transformation during those years, is that I have gained the inner confidence that no matter how clueless I am facing a problem, eventually, I will be able to solve it.
ORJL: What would you like to do after you are done with your master’s?
SHIMON: My dream is to start my own company, with kind and brilliant people, that will have an impact on a part of society that I care about. I might start with a research position in the industry to learn more and to be stable financially. For sure I will keep in touch with the Technion and with my advisor Dr. Uri Shalit, who taught me so much. This student delegation made me realize how the Technion is an integral part of my life and personality.
ORJL: Is there anything else you want to add?
SHIMON: I want to emphasize the meaning of the unique connection that the American Technion Society (ATS) has with the Technion. ATS gives all parts of society opportunities to get the best education there is, to evolve, and to contribute to Israel and to the world. In my case, it gave me air to breathe, when I got scholarships and stopped working like crazy as a data scientist at Intel, and allowed me to invest my time in my research and in myself. Like my advisor, Dr. Shalit, told me, this provided me with the space to be creative and productive. I thank the American Technion Society for that.