This posting DRAWS ON ARTIcles on THE CARMEL 6000 UNIT PUBLISHed in Maariv Online, written by Tallia Levin, AND THE TIMES OF ISRAEL, WRITTEN BY SOPHIE FRIEDMAN.
The Carmel 6000 unit is the equivalent in the national service to what the 8200 high-tech unit is in the Israeli army. Carmel 6000 aims to harness the hi-tech, startup model for good, using a distinctive, economically-feasible model. They offer coding training to young, talented women as a part of their National Service, and then support them as they develop innovative applications and solutions, aiming to bring the benefits of the technological revolution to traditionally under-resourced populations.
In small teams, these women have developed reverse sensors for wheelchairs, interactive storytelling applications for autistic children, and an application that tracks Krembo Wings’ transportation system, ensuring safe transportation for all participants. And Carmel started just three years ago.
Reut Shermer, a graduate of the Society for Advancement of Education’s pioneering Ulpanat Talya in Jerusalem, joined Carmel 6000 following a search for a national technological service. Because Reut attended Talya she was already a skilled programmer who had completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science while still in high school, and then went on to secure her master’s from Open University.
As a result she is a sought-after programmer who could easily work in high-paying positions in for-profit technology firms. But Reut has chosen to stay in the national service unit and serves as development director responsible for several teams. “I know that a day will come and I will have to leave and move on,” she says. “I will find a start-up that has also added social value, not just a lot of money. ”
“The large share of the technological service is concentrated in the defense industries and I was less connected to it,” says Shermer, now 23, about her journey, which was supposed to start in the army. “Just before the service started I heard about Carmel 6000, and I admit I was skeptical, because what can already be done in national service technologically, but after recommendations and invitations from the unit I decided to sign up.”
“The initial experience was very enlightening.” Shermer recalls. “This was the first time I was exposed in my life to social high-tech as a concept. When we started developing projects that each touched on a different field that had no reference so far, it opened my mind and I realized we are here to provide a solution for small audiences, for non-profit organizations that do not have a budget or for someone to do projects for them that will change the way they conduct their daily lives.
The Carmel 6000 initiative was born a little over three years ago (the fourth cycle is currently underway), and as part of the process, girls destined for national service undergo long screenings, at the end of which they receive focused training aimed at teaching computer programming secrets from scratch. “In the last year I see in the screenings a lot more boys than in previous years,” says Shermer.