Applying critical thinking, learning how to learn, giving presentations in English, telling the essential from the nonessential, and working in multidisciplinary teams – three engineers from three different industries share how the skills they’ve acquired in their academic degree serve them in the real world even more than scientific and engineering knowledge

Gal Hanuna, a validation engineer at Mobileye, remembers the first time she had to give a public presentation. It was in the beginning of her undergraduate studies. “I wasn’t fully confident with the subjects I had just learned, and suddenly I had to present to someone that was sitting there and judging me.”

Later on, Hanuna had numerous opportunities to face her class and her lecturers. “During the degree, I acquired tools that dramatically improved my presentational abilities. Today I have confidence in my presentation and message-conveying skills.” Hanuna, an electrical engineering alumna at Afeka – The Academic College of Engineering in Tel Aviv, asserts that even more than the scientific and engineering knowledge, her school days had equipped her with the right skills. “In one of the courses, we simulated working in a startup. We were given team tasks, had to present ideas, offer alternatives. We applied a very realistic employment model. When the time came for the real thing, I was quite ready.”

Gal Hanuna, system integration and validation engineer at Mobileye. Photo courtesy of Afeka


We’ve tried to characterize new academia. We realized that in order to prepare students for the dynamic job market and civilian life, academia must emphasize skill acquisition and engineer career requirements. We’ve described the Afeka Framework for producing the desired image of an engineering alumnus. we’ve decided to hand the stage over to the “products” themselves – the alumni who’ve already joined the job market. We asked them to tell us how the skills acquired during their degree have helped them, if and how necessary they are and if it suit the engineer job requirements.  

Dani Kosoy, an industrial engineering and management alumnus who specialized in information systems and business analytics at Afeka, currently serves as team leader and data project manager at Bank Hapoalim’s technology division. To him, self-learning was a vital skill: “I entered the job with ‘negative mentoring’, since my predecessor had to leave abruptly. This forced me to delve quite rapidly into a complex project at the height of implementation, to start managing a seasoned team with established work routines for developers, systems analysts, and QA testers, and to work with a dominant business entity that monitored and evaluated my performance from day one.”


Dani Kosoy, team leader and data project manager at Bank Hapoalim’s technology division. Photo courtesy of Afeka


What Kosoy gained from his academic studies, he divides into two parts. First there’s the professional, theoretical, and practical knowledge – Everything that meets the engineer career education requirements, from math and coding to data mining, information systems, and machine learning. In his graduation project, he had to apply everything he’d learned into a value-added product. As an Air Force officer, he chose to combine the two worlds and create MDFZ – a Model for Dividing Flight Zones for flight training. “Even the practice of breaking down a complex issue into simpler components is something I’d brought over from my studies.”

The second part has to do with soft skills, or as Afeka likes to call them, vital skills. For example: how to get buy-in for an idea from colleagues with different backgrounds and motivations as well as stay open and attentive to their opinions. Or how to work proactively in a changing environment, agree on task division, and ensure that everything coheres into a single, complete, quality product. Or how to give presentations, address questions that go beyond the specific topic, and be loyal to your team even if not everyone has met the task. Here, says Kosoy, the contribution to one’s career is instant and daily.

Albert Avdalimov, an Afeka alumnus in electric engineering who specialized in computers and signal processing, is a senior PHY FW engineer at semiconductor giant Nvidia. “Over the years, at every job and as early as the interview stage, I needed deep self-learning skills. It was also critical for me to tell the essential from nonessential in order to prioritize tasks – that’s probably the ABCs of any engineer, in addition to a system-wide perspective and critical thinking. Knowing to distill the academic training into the relevant topics made it much easier for me to enter complex systems.”

Albert Avdalimov, senior PHY FW engineer at Nvidia. Photo courtesy of Afeka


Academia Installs an Update

We asked all three interviewees about engineer career information and  adopting new technologies, the kinds that weren’t on offer during their academic studies but now feature heavily in the industry – such as Bard, ChatGPT, and the like.

Kosoy: “There’s no doubt the world’s changing before our eyes. We live in fascinating times, and in order to stay innovative and lead, you’ve got to keep up with technology and be open to change.” Based on this approach, he conceived and founded the Data Crumbs community, aimed at exposing its members to “morsels of information” and share hot trends, guides, and professional issues towards becoming early adopters. “I was motivated by the growth mindset of ‘accruing marginal profits’ – a theory I’d encountered at Afeka, by which, if you improve at one percent a day for a year, you’ll make a 37-fold progress.” The community he founded has branched out into numerous topics that are dealt with by the technological division.

Avdalimov is similarly involved in passing knowledge forward, as a guide and mentor for students and juniors. “The practice I pass on is based on the fundamentals I acquired in my degree, with a dash of personal experience thrown in. It makes processes much clearer.” As for the Afeka Framework – which emphasizes skill acquisition through innovative pedagogy, physical changes to the campus, a “skillabus” alongside the syllabus, and more – Avdalimov says that it is already bearing fruit: “Afeka alumni come equipped with a richer toolset. They deal with challenges better, and use the skills and proficiencies they’ve acquired to stand out and succeed.”

Hanuna, who has also enrolled in Afeka’s intelligent systems graduate program, adds another engineer career requirements, an issue that is considered a sore point for many Israeli students: English. And not as a passive reading language, but as a daily communication tool with colleagues, clients, and partners. “I remember courses that had me learning and applying newly-published articles on topics that were just beginning to be studied. That means learning by yourself, delving into research, and then ‘taking the plunge’: presenting, developing an idea, and mastering the subject, and none of it in your native tongue. When I run into similar situations nowadays, I have the tools to cope. And it’s extremely relevant to the nonstop technological reality we’re all experiencing. You can’t use a tool without understanding the technology, without defining and characterizing a system. In that kind of world, self-learning is a major asset.”