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Mark Telesnick


by Rhonda Spivak, posted January 14, 2011

[ Recommended:The above video show's how Engineers without Borders of Technion helped peopel in Nepal.]



by Rhonda Spivak

Next time Mark Telesnick, who is an engaging speaker comes to speak in Winnipeg, we need to make sure we get him to bring his skates, and buy him a ticket to a Jets game .
The 51 year old Talesnick isn’t only a world class engineer who established a chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
Born in Toronto but raised in Kingston, Ontario Talesnick decided to make aliyah in 1982, Talesnick co- founded Israel’s national ice hockey team.
“I lost to Wayne Gretsky” Talesnick told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, when he played in Kingston, noting that the team he assembled for Israel was made up of a lot of ex-pat Canadians and a few sabras too. In Israel, the team trained at Canada Centre in Metulla on the border with Lebanon, the only ice rink in the country.
Talesnick said he “hasn’t been playing hockey” for a while now, although he probably still has some gear. [the Israeli team he co-founded got killed in its first game, against Spain, losing 23-4. The Israelis then beat the Turks and the Greeks in the next games, making them feel just a little like the ancient Maccabees.]
While Talesnick isn’t focusing anymore on building team spirit in hockey, he is infusing his students with a social conscience and an innovative spirit to enable them to handle global challenges of improving the quality of life of disadvantaged populations throughout the world.
As Talesnick explained when in  Winnipeg in November 2011, bringing engineering solutions which enable people to improve their lives and are also designed in a way that the community itself can maintain the infrastructure is what is needed to effect “major change,” which “can often be done with a relatively small budget.”
As Telesnick said, “It’s not enough to teach our students how to …to crunch numbers… We need to be training our graduate engineers as leaders in society.”
According to Talesnick, university engineering courses,” are currently designed to meet only “ the needs of 10 percent of the world’s population” living in technologically advanced countries, but not the other “90 percent of the world” where such basics as clean water, and sustainable energy are lacking.
“Engineers need to be thinking of solutions to address these problems,” Talesnick said, noting that many engineers lacked “hands-on experience and know-how.”
Talesnick spoke of how the Technion EWB team of some 25 Israeli and American students applied their know-how to help the Bedouin village of Kochle in the Negev, whose single generator provided a limited unstable supply of energy.
 Talesnick heard from a Bedouin whose brother was sick in a hospital and could not be released home “unless his medications were refrigerated round the clock.”
“The village did not have proper refrigeration,” said Talesnick, who explained how his students came up with a practical solution, “a small cooler connected to a battery charged through solar panels.”
Telesnick spoke of his team’s remarkable work in a ruralvillage in Nepal of about 1000 people, landlocked between India and China where there is no access to gas or kerosene. Old-growth forests are being cut down by the villagers as wood serves as the main energy source for cooking and heating.
“Children spend several hours a day carrying wood,” noted Talesnick, instead of being able to be in school or doing other productive activity.
“Women do the cooking by standing over wood stoves in huts” with little or no ventilation and “end up with respiratory problems.” The community‘s water from the nearby river, is polluted with human and animal manure and “as a result Diarrhea is widespread.”
The solution Talesnick’s Technion team came up with to solve these problems was a bio reactor. It was constructed in an earth pit about 4.5 feet deep and 8 feet across, and topped by a concrete dome.
As Telesnick outlined, when a reactor is finished, animal and human waste and food compost can be fed through an inlet into the digester compartment. There bacteria transform this waste into clean methane gas.
Although bio reactors were already widespread in Nepal and India, most were built by child labor and in a labor intensive and often dangerous lengthy process.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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