By initiating a bachelor’s degree in renewable energy at Ben-Gurion University’s
Eilat campus, the region will really be able to stand out as the clean-tech
center that it aims to be, according to Hevel Eilot Regional Council Chairman
“We can’t become a Silicon Valley if we don’t have education and
academia here, if we don’t have energy production, energy tests, labs, science
and researchers,” Gat told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “It’s all
He was speaking on the sidelines of the Eilat-Eilot 2012 Fifth
International Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition, after both he and
Eilat Mayor Meir Yizhak Halevi had addressed participants about the region’s
developments and about the bachelor’s degree program under way.
region, Gat explained, should be a beacon of alternative energy, and in order to
accomplish this task, the “place must be known and recognized as high
Already, the Eilat campus of Ben-Gurion University has a
program for marine biology, as well as several other degree tracks, but adding a
bachelor’s in renewable energy will really help “turn this area into an academic
region,” Halevi said during his speech.
The Eilat renewable energy
undergraduate program, which is slated to begin in either 2013 or 2014, will be
the first such degree in the Middle East, following only about two programs in
Europe and a few others around the world, according to Gat. With a management
focus rather than a scientific approach, the degree will contain courses on
management, policy and specifics of renewable energy.
“The ones who
finished the first degree go into marketing, regulations,” added Dorit Banet,
co-chair of the conference.
The degree will be a stepping stone to
bringing more skilled professionals into the Eilat-Eilot region, Gat
“I want you to realize how much education is important for me,”
he said, noting that he just recently finished his master’s degree in education
at Tel Aviv University.
“I believe that no region can increase, can be
better without a good place for education, academia especially.”
perfect focus for this academic expansion is something that can provide a mode
of branding for the region, according to Gat.
“That’s how we can bring
more people to the region,” he said. “We will attract many students who believe
this is the area that they want to build themselves in the future to work
Not only will the renewable energy program attract students, it will
also bring professors, families, skilled workers and high-quality individuals
who will be either directly or indirectly connected to the university, he
explained. Already there are professors interested in moving their careers to
the Eilat campus, a move that will create a niche study opportunity in the
region, he added.
For the future of the Eilat-Eilot area, it is crucial
to encourage the region’s residents to add renewable energy to their Arava
agricultural repertoire, something that will encourage young adults – like Gat’s
own 23-year-old daughter – to stay in the region, he explained.
won’t come back to the region to work in date trees or peppers,” he
“But if I’d offer her education or science, maybe she would.”