By Amy Vogel ’20

After three great months living it up in Haifa at the Technion, I moved to Israel’s The-City-That-Never-Sleeps to live the modern-day high-tech Tel Aviv dream (well, for two months).

Selfie on the beach during the sunset

There’s a lot to be said about working at a startup in the Startup Nation… I’ll try to keep it concise!

For two weeks now, I have been working at a company called Optibus, located in the center of Tel Aviv. Their product is an algorithm called Optibize, which elegantly and efficiently helps mass transit operators find optimal transportation and planning solutions.

The inside of my office

Have you ever sat at the bus stop outside 77 Mass Ave, waiting twenty minutes for the 1-bus to come, and then marveled at the inefficiency of the MBTA when three 1-buses go by, all in a row? Or, have you wondered how the Tech Shuttle drivers coordinate when and where they will take breaks, and how they coordinate those breaks so they’ll be in a convenient location? Maybe you don’t spend hours pondering these secrets of the transportation universe like I do, but nevertheless, strategic scheduling is absolutely crucial in operating a bus system. These are the type of problems that Optibus is helping transit providers solve, and it turns out that these operations are not a secret at all; their success just depends on the effectiveness and efficiency of the transit provider’s scheduling software.

The view from my office

In my time here, I have already gotten acquainted with many different aspects of the company. During my first week, I mainly conducted market research in the school bus sector, examining the many ways that school buses differ from city buses, and looking at how Optibus could improve the school bus industry. This week, in addition to the market research, I have been helping with the company’s marketing by writing some blog posts that explain their technology. My first post (about NP-hard problems) will be up soon! In the coming weeks, as I get acquainted with the Optibus platform, I’m looking forward to exploring the more technical parts of the company as well.

When the work day is over, I take the bus back to my apartment, or sometimes I walk and stop for dinner along the way. Although I know some Hebrew, I am going to start Hebrew classes soon so that I’ll be able to communicate better in Israeli society. In the next seven weeks, I plan to explore Tel Aviv as much as possible. My apartment is only a fifteen minute walk from the beach, so I will be taking full advantage!

The Mediterranean Sea

After spending the Spring 2018 semester studying abroad at the Technion in Israel, Amy Vogel ’20 is spending the summer interning in Tel Aviv at Optibus, a company that helps mass transit operators find transportation and planning solutions. Her abroad experiences have been facilitated by MISTI MIT-Israel.