An Israeli innovator shows an MSU student how his product works while the student wears a VR device over his eyes.
An Israeli innovator shows an MSU student how his product works.

Internship leads to Israeli tech fair and new pro-Israel involvement.

Kyle Zaback } jewish@edu writer

It wasn’t until late sophomore year that I began seeking new opportunities to involve myself in the Jewish community at Michigan State University. Staff at the MSU Hillel approached me about applying to be the Ryan Rosman (z’l) Jewish Business Association (JBA) intern for the Jewish Student Union (JSU), a position responsible for immersing Jews on campus in the world of business.

Coupled with my desire to help others and my pursuit of a career in business, I jumped at the idea and was selected for my junior year.

At the beginning of this semester, my first in JSU, I met with my supervisor to discuss potential projects. Over the summer, Hasbara Fellowships, a pro-Israel campus activism organization, contacted JSU wanting to bring the Start-Up Nation Technology Fair to Michigan State. The fair features 10 to 12 Israeli startup firms with the goal of showcasing Israeli innovation in technology, providing product demonstrations, and even offering internships to educate both Jews and non-Jews about the Israeli tech industry.

My leadership skills were put to the test in organizing the event. First I formed a committee to help coordinate the event and delegated tasks to each member based on their personal strengths.

As a committee, we were required to organize logistics, strategically market the fair, form co-sponsorships with on-campus organizations and involve faculty in the event. The most challenging and strenuous of these was the marketing aspect.

Hundreds of people attended the event, ranging from a diverse crowd of students to a handful of business professionals in the greater Lansing area. The fair provided opportunities for positive interactions between firms and attendees, with most undergraduate guests applying for internships.

One memorable interaction I had was with the co-founder of 6Degrees, a firm focused on developing wearable technology helping those with upper limb deficiencies reclaim their digital lives. He used an armband to control his Bluetooth compatible devices using simple motions. He explained that people with Parkinson’s or disabilities from war have used the device to fully reintegrate into working life and support themselves.

Other startups included Cardioset, a company that manufactures accurate, non-invasive heart monitors, and CivDrone, a hardware/software company disrupting the land surveying industry with its low-cost autonomous drones.

As a committee, we achieved our goal in promoting Israeli startups and creating an open atmosphere to educate individuals about the strong tech industry in Israel. Serving as the JBA intern has been a pleasure, and my experience coordinating the fair helped me redefine my relationship with Israel. I am extremely excited to continue developing this relationship and discovering new aspects of my Jewish identity along the way. @

Kyle Zaback of Farmington Hills is a junior at Michigan State University and a Jewish Student Union intern.

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