Incentives for Outstanding Students

Undecided about whether to go into industry or remain in the academic world? An abundance of scholarships and grants are available for outstanding advanced degree students. Robert Giterman, a doctoral student in Nanotechnology at Bar Ilan University's Faculty of Engineering, has won three scholarships in recent years.

One of the main questions faced by graduate students in engineering involves economic feasibility – whether it is worthwhile to continue on to advanced degrees in engineering when industry often offers desirable and rewarding jobs. "Students in the field of nanotechnology who are interested in continuing in the academic world are faced with a very big dilemma," says Robert Giterman, a doctoral student in Nanotechnology at Bar Ilan University's Faculty of Engineering. "In order to convince students to remain in the academic world and not leave for the big money in industry, there must be some sort of economic incentive. I have received several financial incentives."

Giterman, age 27, came to the Faculty of Engineering from Ben Gurion University in Beersheba, his hometown, following the footsteps of his academic advisors, Professor Alex Fish and Dr. Adam Teman. He obtained his BSc and MSc in electrical engineering. His current research, in the field of nanotechnology, deals with dynamic memories for integrated circuits. "Each chip that contains a processor also contains memory for storing operations and computational results. These memories are implemented by means of static memories. Once a specific value is written on them, it is permanently stored by these memories, which take up more than 50% of the area and power consumption of the chips," Giterman explained. "The goal of my research is to develop dynamic memories, which significantly save space and power. Chips for different applications have different memory needs: some require high speed, some require low power, and so forth. If we adapt a unique memory for each application and optimize it to fit the requirements of the application, instead of using the same memory for all applications, we can greatly improve the memory’s efficiency."

It is easy to understand why Giterman's research is highly sought after in industry. Accordingly, he won a number of scholarships to encourage his work. When he began his doctoral studies, he received the President's scholarship from Bar Ilan University, which is awarded to outstanding doctoral candidates and which amounted to 48,000 NIS per year. Later on, he won the Lev Tsion scholarship. "This scholarship encourages students living in outlying areas to apply for doctoral studies, in order to narrow the gap between these students and those from the center of Israel, to allow them to devote full time to their studies, and to encourage their integration into the academic staff of higher education," says Giterman. "The scholarship is granted to a maximum of ten students each year, is given to each student for 3 years, and amounts to 52 thousand NIS per year, in addition to 10,000 NIS extra for trips to conferences and covering additional expenses. The scholarship recipients are obliged to complete their doctorate within three years. In addition, the recipients of this scholarship, as well as the President's scholarship, are exempted from paying tuition."

Giterman was also awarded a scholarship from the Ministry of Science and Technology. "The Ministry is interested in sending doctoral students to conferences abroad so that they can display their research to the international research community, with the purpose of training scientific manpower and promoting scientific relations and international cooperation", Giterman explained. "The grant for conference participation amounts to a maximum of 1500 Euros for conferences in Europe and $2500 for conferences in the United States, the Far East and countries in Oceania. I was awarded this scholarship last year, and used it to participate in the International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS) in Montreal, Canada. This electrical engineering conference dealt with a variety of fields involving integrated circuits - analogical, digital, memories, and more. I gave a lecture presenting some of my research on dynamic memories and how to estimate the time between their refresh operations."

As part of his doctoral research, Giterman is involved in a number of projects carried out jointly with industry and with universities abroad. In addition, he presented in international conferences several times, lectured on his research, published about 10 articles, and collaborated in the writing of two patents in the field of dynamic memories. In the meantime, he feels good in the academic world. "Contrary to the world of industry, in the academic world it is possible to engage in fields that are more research-related, and work on issues that interest me more, and not in those that depend on the needs of the company," he says. "Furthermore, I am pleased with the Faculty. The academic level is high, quality personnel are recruited, and the facilities are very advanced - I conduct my research in a laboratory with highly advanced technology, such as 28 nanometer technology which is one of the most advanced on the market, and I think it is going in a very positive direction. However, I have not yet decided whether to continue on to a post-doctorate after I complete my doctorate next year, or whether to go into industry. I have two more years to contemplate this." 

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