Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 6

Our first stop this day was the Ashkelon Desalination Plant.  The most unbelievable thing about it is the location.  The plant is a very strategic resource for the Israelis and it is only a few miles from the Gaza strip.  In fact the last time they were attacked from this area bombs landed within a few miles from the plant.  The students kept asking our guide Oshik what they do for security measures and he told us that there was nothing really that they could do.  This was the best place for them to put the plant and they have to go about their lives without letting fear stop them from doing what they have to do.  He basically said if they were to blow up the plant the Israelis would simply have to build it up again.
The construction of the plant is contracted out to private companies, one is IDE Technologies an Israeli company, and the other is Veolia, which I believe is French.  Oshik gave us an introduction talk and explained how the plant works, in addition to answering all of our questions.  I now even know that the steps to desalinate water are 1) intake 2) pretreatment 3) high pressure booster 4) sea water reverse osmosis 5) post treatment!!  The guide was pretty funny and did a great job explaining the plant as we walked throughout the facilities. 
Israel will have five plants and almost 80% of there water will eventually come from desalination.  This will be a great resource for them as water continues to runs short in our overpopulated world.
From there we went to Ormat Industries which was a company that builds alternative energy plants all around the world.  They make geothermal plants, solar, and “resource recovery” plants, which Chairman Lucien Bronicki explained to be for biomass and industrial waste recovery to make electricity.  He went through the company powerpoint in a nice conference room talking about the business, their plants, their employees, the education program they have to train potential employees, and he answered questions.  He even gave some good book recommendations at the end.
Our last stop of the day, Objet, was probably the most interesting, and definitely the most entertaining.  I always enjoy when we get to go into the factories where they make the products.  Objet is a 3D printing company, and maybe the most advanced in the world.  They build printers that can print 3D models and replicas in a number of different materials.  We were given a great presentation and they let us pass around the prototypes they printed and explained how the printers work, he was also enthusiastic about answering all our questions.  Then we went downstairs to see the printers while they were printing, and also where they build them.  It was really unbelievable to see them printing 16 micrometer layers halfway through a print.
The last stop of the day was the MIT Enterprise Forum where I was able to see presentations on entrepreneurship from Zvi Yemini, Ofer Shoshan, and our very own Bruce Bachenheimer.  Although a very accomplished entrepreneur the first speaker did not prepare too well for his speech.  The second entrepreneur who spoke basically told his story and it was interesting to hear how he started a few companies right out of the army without knowing anything, according to him.  Bruce also gave a great presentation about what they don’t teach you in business school.  Apparently it was web broadcasted across the world.

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