Sunday, September 7, 2008

On AITC (Arab Israeli Technology Center)

Today I am blogging about an "off topic" issue -- an initiative that occupy part of my time -- AITC (Arab Israeli Technology Center). Some background - as you probably know, Israel is high-tech country, out of the 3.3 Million people in the Israeli work-force, 200,000 work in the ICT area (AKA "high tech"), something around 6%. This is an impressive number, considering the fact that the salaries and thus standards of living in the high-tech industry is relatively high, and that the supply of high-tech professional does not meet the demand. However, the Israeli high-tech does not have even participation of all populations. There are two populations that are extremely under-represented, one is the ultra-orthodox Jewish population, which parts of it chose to live in isolation, and not seek employment outside their community - they are outside the scope of this discussion now, the other under-represented population is the Arab population, which is around 20% of the population of Israel (I am talking about the Arab citizens of Israel, not the residents of the Palestinian territories). Some survey that has been done revealed that the participation of the Arab population in the Israeli High-Tech is around 0.2% - two orders of magnitude difference. Why did it happen? Twenty years ago much of the high-tech was associated with the defense industry. While there still is a defense industry, most of the high-tech is civilian, furthermore - many multinational companies: Intel, IBM, Oracle, HP, SAP, BMC, CA, Motorola, Microsoft, Google - to name a few - have substantial activity in Israel, many of them have also acquired Israeli start-ups and continue operate them as part of the bigger company. However, the image of high-tech being closely associated with the defense industries, who don't occupy Arabs, is still pervasive in the Arab society. One of the Arab Israeli notable families decided to break this reality, and to launch a project that will first convert people from the target population who already have academic degrees in various engineering, science or mathematics disciplines, in the sequel establish a private academic institute, and then also incubation for start-ups. This family has recruited a known (and controversial) person in Israel, who is known in his ability to push things, as the President of this center, and he recruited me to be the Academic Director of this center (based on some bullets in my CV, I guess)... I have decided to take the offer (in my spare time... at least for now), in order to make contribution to the society. The first mission has been to recruit the support of the Israeli high-tech industry, and this has been relatively easy. We have now full support, including participation in advisory committee, ability to do projects, and willingness to recruit graduates of this program (well - if we prove that we meet the high standards of the industry). I also compiled a curriculum draft, which have gone major revision after consulting with the different companies (we cannot make everybody happy, but it seems that everybody is happy about something, and at the end - this make them happy). Besides the high-tech industry, various politicans are also showing involvement (I am not crazy about politicians in general)... and the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, is giving his sponsorship (which will earn the entire team a dinner with him in 2 months or so)...
Now there are preparations for the launch, and the actual studies are planned to start in February 2009. I am in a phase of recruiting teachers - blend of people from academia and industry...
BTW - the picture above is of Nazareth, the biggest Arab town, where the center will be located.
How does it relate to event processing? Well- this launch is a big event, but like David Luckham's example of the stock market crash, it does not happen over a day, and consists of many smaller events. So - I'll blog in th future, about some of these smaller events that will happen. More -later; back to EP Blogging.

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