Jehuda Haddad
Jehuda Haddad

Bolstering Ashdod as an academic city should be a key government priority

In recent years, Ashdod has grown to become the sixth-largest city in Israel, having doubled its population within a space of two decades. The city’s development momentum coincides with impressive growth and progress in the quality of life and of education, which emphasizes excellence, equality, achievement and values.

This momentum must not be stopped. Now of all times, following the recent‘Guardian of the Walls’ military operation, during which the city remained steadfast in face of the endless missile bombardments and threats by Hamas, it is vitally important that the new government act to reinforce the future of academia in Israel’s port city.

Slowly but surely, Ashdod is becoming a genuine “academic city.” In 2003, the SCE Sami Shamoon College of Engineering established its Ashdod campus. The campus has since flourished and developed along with the city. The college’s vision of making the world a better place through engineering education resonates well with the vision of Ashdod, a city that strives towards communal resilience, equal opportunities and individual empowerment.

Higher education is the cornerstone to building a better and stronger society. The engineering and social education that we in academia are instilling today, will create a better future for the city of Ashdod by expanding financial opportunities and increasing national security. Cooperation between local and international companies, such as ICL, Elta, Adama-Agan and others, alongside the direct and natural connection to academia, has proven itself as a conduit to a technological ecosystem. This connection does not only train quality human resources, such as highly skilled engineers, but also manages to strengthen and empower populations in the city by absorbing them into top-notch workplaces.

Israel is constantly in need of thousands of engineers annually, and the general demand for engineering graduates is constantly on the rise. Technological development serves as a lever to creating new technologies, initiatives, startups and workplaces. Students seeking higher education know that choosing engineering studies will lead them to areas high in demand, with prompt integration into the work market at key positions in desirable places where they will contribute to the financial and security growth of Israel.

We are at a crossroads, and the development of education in the south, with the need to reinforce academia in Ashdod, is more relevant than ever. It is the key to creating equal opportunities, quality employment and social leadership. Therefore, the government should, by way of the Council for Higher Education, lead the vision of Ashdod as an independent academic city, and not as a campus only, for training future generation engineers that will become part of urban architecture, high tech companies, military industries and develop the technologies of tomorrow in the city of Ashdod.

Cooperation between academia and industry will enable the training of high-quality human resources that will settle in the city as a powerful and empowering population. A just society that narrows the gap between its central and peripheral regions is the true path to strengthening our nation. All that is needed is a guiding hand and a nudge of encouragement from the government.

About the Author
Prof. Jehuda Haddad is rector of the SCE Sami Shamoon College of Engineering.
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