In honor of Internet Safety Day, employees of Intel Israel have developed an application that will help kids in elementary and junior high schools learn all about safe surfing – avoiding pitfalls on the internet like scam websites, cyberbullies, and giving away too much personal information. It’s part of a long tradition at Intel Israel of involvement in the community – with the company supplying volunteers and funding projects to educate kids and adults alike on nearly every aspect of computer usage, from basic skills training for kids in peripheral areas to top-level university research projects.
Some 40% of Intel Israel employees volunteer for some program or other sponsored by the company – and that includes top Intel Israel execs, who themselves put in “field time” in schools, community centers, and after-school computer clubs. Voluntarism is a long-standing tradition at Intel, says company spokesperson Koby Bahar, and in Israel, no hi-tech company does volunteering better than Intel. It’s a side of the company that isn’t that well known, says Bahar – because the company does not promote its voluntarism. “We’re more interested in results than PR,” Bahar says.
But the work Intel employees do is very important – and thousands of Israelis owe a great deal to the company. Take, for example, Intel’s “Think Positive” (Choshvim Chiyuvi), programs which gives students all over Israel the opportunity to excel in math, science – and especially computers. Think Positive is all about giving disadvantaged kids a leg up in math, science, and in some cases, English – all skills that young students need for the hi-tech tomorrow that many schools in Israel don’t have the resources to teach properly.
Hundreds of volunteers conduct one-on-one and small groups sessions with kids after school – mostly high school and junior high – helping them to understand the material they need to know to do well in class especially to excel on the “bagrut” (matriculation tests) that Israeli kids start obsessing over beginning in 10th grade. The program, now in its ninth year, is such a success that it has attracted volunteers from a plethora of tech companies, including Marvell, IBM, Agilent, Phillips, Cisco, NDS, Ophir Optronics, Factor and Co., JMB, Clear Forest, and Tzoren.
Intel also runs programs for college-level and graduate-level students. Recently, Intel announced that it will invest over $15 million in a multi-university collaborative research institute to research computational intelligence (CI), exploring ways to enable computing systems to augment the human brain in a wide array of complex tasks – analyzing huge amounts of data, making sense of rich inputs, taking autonomous decisions and communication back to human beings in a meaningful way (think IBM’s “Watson,” the computer that beat all comers on TV’s Jeopardy last year).
And this week, Intel volunteers will be visiting elementary and junior high school classes around Israel, introducing a new game developed by Intel employees on safe computing. The game, with separat editions for elementary and high school students, is being distributed on Safe Internet Day, organized by the Education Ministry, and volunteers will teach kids some basic internet safety concepts, with each edition geared to the concerns of the specific age group. Internet Safety Day is an annual event, and Intel always comes up with something unique and special – part of the company’s ongoing commitment to Israeli education.