Technion intern brings drive, ideas to Silicon Valley

Paul Marcovici of Haifa is interning in San Jose this summer in computer-aided design. But all his high-tech knowledge fails him once he gets out the door of his Silicon Valley residence.

"I'm not happy because I don't have a driver's license," he said. "It's hard to get around without transportation."

Marcovici is one of 20 Israeli students from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology interning for the summer in Bay Area high-tech companies. The program, established by the American Technion Society, began in late July and ends mid-September.

Each morning, Marcovici, 25, carpools to work at Guzik Technologies, a company that tests equipment for magnetic recording. At first, he described his experience there as "OK, I can say. In the beginning, I had nothing to do."

Now, he is in the thick of the work circus. "They want me to design a cover for dust for something they produce," he said.

The heavy work schedule is particularly taxing in comparison to life in Haifa, where he recently graduated from the Technion.

"Americans work twice as much as Israelis," he said. "Sometimes I stay until 8 or 9 [p.m.]. There is more stress. People work on Saturdays, which they never do in Israel."

He is also surprised at the aggressive atmosphere. "There is less screaming" in the Israeli work environment, Marcovici said. "But it depends on the boss, let's say."

He describes Guzik as a startup with a diverse group of employees: "People are not from the U.S. It's a different atmosphere."

When Marcovici began, he was shocked to find "here they design in very old-fashioned way. I studied in Technion to design in 3-D. I told them it was almost crazy without the new approach in the design."

He asked to use his more advanced design program and prepared a demonstration of his work.

The American Technion Society started the intern program five years ago. Jack Kadesh, regional director for the American Technion Society, says the program's success is underlined by its expansion.

"We began with only one student. Now the program has now grown to 20 students," he said. "The fact that almost every company that has taken a student has requested a student next year shows the quality of program."

Marcovici learned of the program from classmate and current intern Remus Koos. Marcovici, who recently obtained his degree in mechanical engineering, hopes to return to Technion this fall to pursue a master's degree.

The Technion interns have not just been work horses. They've also enjoyed horsing around. A few of them visited Lake Tahoe and Yosemite together, and the group has had a dessert party and barbecue.

Marcovici, who is in America for the first time, visited Santa Cruz, shopped in downtown Palo Alto and tamed the rides at Great America.

While he's excited about future travels in this country, Marcovici is modest about his accomplishments as a Technion intern. "Don't put me in [the newspaper], I don't want to be famous. Choose someone with a driver's license."