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The promising researcher who was killed in a tank

Isaiah Winograd was one of the young professors at the Technion, a promising scientist who worked in a variety of fields, from rocket propulsion to water desalination, an artist and a family man, and also a reserve officer who rushed to the Syrian front in the Yom Kippur War, and was killed there

"There is no doubt that the scientific potential he had and his great diligence would have brought him far, to leading positions," says Prof. Avraham Shitsar of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Technion about Isaiah Winograd, who was a young researcher at the faculty. "He was a brilliant lecturer and a brilliant human being." "Shay was loved by all the soldiers of the unit. His good spirit and courage helped his soldiers to stand firm in the most difficult times. In his personal quietness, in his gentle nature and in his understanding of his orders, he stood out above all those around him." wrote his commander In a letter of condolence to the family after his fall. These two short quotes reveal only a small part of the personality of a leading scientist, inventor, military commander, who was also an artist and a family man. 

Outstanding student

Yeshayahu-Yehuda Winograd was born on December 3, 1938 in Tel Aviv to an old family in Israel: seventh generation in Israel on his mother's side, and third on his father's side. He was the middle son of Rachel, a housewife, and Panchas-Mordechai who was involved in gardening and bookkeeping. His older brother Shmuel was later a professor of mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a senior mathematician at the IBM computer company. His younger brother Yossi had a doctorate in electrical engineering, and worked for the American telecommunications companies Bell and At&T.

Vinograd, called Shay by his acquaintances and Sheikha by his friends, was educated in the religious-national education. He attended the "Tahkamoni" and "Yavna" elementary schools, and chose to continue studying in Tel Aviv, at the "Zeitlin" high school, even after the family moved to Ramat Gan when he was about ten years old.

Winograd receives the rank of sergeant at the end of the artillery officer course | Photo courtesy of the Winograd family
A professional officer dedicated to his soldiers. Vinograd receives the rank of sergeant at the end of the artillery officers course Photo courtesy of the Winograd family

In high school, he met his classmate and "Bnei Akiva" movement friend, Ruth Gantek, although the relationship between them tightened mainly after they finished their studies. Shay was going to enlist in the IDF as part of the academic reserve, but in the end changed his mind and decided to enlist on a regular track. He served in the artillery corps, participated in the "Kedesh" operation, completed an officers' course and then managed to finish a battery commander's course and an air support officer's course. In 1958 he finished his mandatory service with the rank of captain. "Isaiah is a quiet, level-headed and very loyal officer," was written about him in the opinion of his commanders. He turned to studies at the Technion, and at the same time continued to serve many days a year in the reserve service.

Winograd applied to study nuclear engineering at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Technion. His notebooks, which remained in the hands of family members, testify to a diligent and focused student, who was interested in the material and loved his studies. At the end of the second year of studies and at the end of the third year he won certificates of excellence for his achievements. In 1962 he finished his first degree "with commendable honors". During his studies he married Ruth, and when he was accepted for graduate studies at Brown University in the United States, the two moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where their eldest daughter, Siegel, was born in 1963.

Shay and Ruthie Winograd Photo courtesy of the Winograd family
A friendship from high school that turned into a relationship and a family. Shay and Ruthie Winograd Photo courtesy of the Winograd family

dreams of space

After completing his master's degree in 1964, Winograd went on to earn a doctorate in engineering at Brown University. His research paper dealt with in the flow of electrically charged particles (pigeons). Among other things, he examined the possibility of developing an ion engine, which produces thrust through the emission of such particles, especially in space flight, and researched possibilities to control at the speed of the particle beam flow and in its other parameters. There too he won a certificate of honor for an outstanding doctoral student. Winograd also saw great importance in bringing his scientific work to as large a public as possible, especially in Israel, and in 1965 he published An extensive article on electrostatic propulsion and space flights in the Israeli journal "Mada", which is intended for the general public, in which he explained in a simple and clear manner how such an ion engine might work, and what its advantages and disadvantages are compared to chemical propulsion of spacecraft.

At the ceremony of receiving a doctorate degree, with a fellow student at Brown University and with his daughter Sigal Photo courtesy of the Winograd family
A work that was widely praised. Winograd (left) at the ceremony of receiving a doctorate degree, with a fellow student at Brown University and with his daughter Sigal | Photo courtesy of the Winograd family

"In the area of ​​electrostatic propulsion, the basic research work is reaching its final stages," Winograd wrote in the concluding paragraph of the article. "The possibility of practical use of this form of propulsion - in a field where it is superior to other forms of propulsion - is no longer in doubt. Most of the work currently being done in this field is 'quantitative': the thrust that can be achieved with electrostatic propulsion is still tiny, and a lot of effort is invested in finding ways to increase it […]. They should be seen as the opening of the second period in the life of the ion machine - the period of experiments in space." Although the technologies for ion propulsion in space were indeed developed in the late XNUMXs, Winograd's vision was realized on a large scale mainly in the last decades, with more and more spacecraft and satellites making use of the technology he was the developer of, including for example The Israeli-French "Venus" satellite, which corrects its orbit with the help of an ion engine developed by the Rafael company.

His fundamental work in the PhD was highly praised, and paved his way to two societies designed for outstanding students and researchers in their fields. Association Tau-Beta-Phi, intended for practitioners in the fields of engineering, and an association Sigma-Xi, intended for scientists and engineers. During the doctoral studies, Shai and Ruth had their second son, Alon. After completing his doctorate in 1966, he was accepted for postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, which is one of the world's leading universities in the fields of engineering. There, too, he continued to deal with the subject of the ion propulsion of spacecraft.

and the certificate of acceptance into the Sigma-Xi Society Photos courtesy of the Winograd family
Excellent all the way. Graduation certificate from the Technion, doctoral certificate from Brown University, and acceptance certificate for the Sigma-Xi Society | Photos courtesy of the Winograd family

drinking water

The Six Day War broke out while Winograd and his family were in Boston. Although he wanted to return to Israel and join his reserve unit, the war ended before he could do so. Shortly after the war, he was accepted as a researcher at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Technion, and the family returned to Israel and settled in Haifa. In 1971 he received the rank of associate professor, and at the age of 33 he was one of the youngest researchers at the Technion with this rank.

His research at the Technion dealt with many topics, and his main focus was fluid flow. Many of his researches in these years, mainly with his colleague Alex Solan, dealt with the field of reverse osmosis as a means of water desalination. At that time, the idea of ​​desalination of seawater began to be examined, and the two competing methods were distillation of the water, that is, boiling the water and then cooling the vapors and collecting them, or reverse osmosis: the forced flow of the water through selective membranes, which do not transfer the salts.

Winograd at his desk Photo courtesy of the Winograd family
He was always looking for how to harness his ideas into practical applications, preferably for the benefit of the country. Winograd at his desk Photo courtesy of the Winograd family

Winograd was one of the leaders in the field, and his research dealt with, among other things In analyzing the flow characteristics, in the changes in the concentrations of the salts, in the density of the membranes also in sub-processes that enable water desalination. "In the end, the reverse osmosis desalination approach won, because they realized that this is the more efficient method, and today most of the desalinated water we drink in Israel is produced using this method. Winograd's work has a part in this, and he made his contribution to this progress", says the inventor and entrepreneur Dr. Gabi Idan, who was a practitioner in Winograd's course as a research student at the Technion. "I was not directly related to his research work, but I had conversations with him about professional issues and I got the impression that he was an excellent person - professionally and personally. The students really liked him: he was an excellent lecturer, tried to give them the best and had good relations with the practitioners. He was a very nice person, you could always talk to him and consult him. He was considered a professional authority."

Winograd (seated on the left) with colleagues in the laboratory Photo courtesy of the Winograd family
It was always possible to consult him. Winograd (seated on the left) with colleagues in the laboratory Photo courtesy of the Winograd family

Academic revolution

Another area of ​​research in which Winograd was engaged was the flow of liquids inside pipes. The flow may not be smooth but turbulent under the influence of many factors such as changes in the flow speed, the characteristics of the pipe such as changes in diameter, flexibility or the composition of the walls, and the properties of the liquid itself. The formation of vortices is of great importance in the functioning of devices, for example fuel supply to the engine, and also medically important, for example in the blood flow in the arteries.

Winograd's studies also dealt with the properties of the flow in general, in the factors affecting the formation of vortices, and also in the study of blood flow for medical purposes. "He applied a two-phase flow model to the blood, meaning treating the blood fluid, the plasma, as one phase, and the red blood cells as the second phase. We made a model of this, from a viscous liquid and tiny plastic spheres, and we measured properties of the flow, a topic we worked on with the Hematology Institute in Tel Hashomer," says Moshe Heller, who was an undergraduate student in Winograd's course, and did the thesis for his degree in his laboratory. "He was an amazing lecturer and an excellent instructor. His course dealt with flow theory, and he had vast knowledge in the field. It was not an easy subject, and he always made sure that everyone understood, and he had the patience to answer all the questions. He also cared on a personal level for everyone he worked with, making sure they got the payments they were due, and so on. He was very diligent, and would always leave the laboratory last on Friday - when it was still customary to work until noon - when his wife would come to pick him up and tell him that he had enough work."

According to Heller, Winograd was one of a group of young researchers who revolutionized the Technion. "These are Technion graduates who went to do a doctorate in the United States and returned to the Technion as faculty members. They brought innovative American concepts and replaced some of the teaching methods that characterized the older generation of professors, who were graduates of the German tradition and brought it to the Technion." Even though he was among the last of this group to join the Technion, he stood out very much, says Prof. Avraham Schitzer, now retired from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, then a research student who was a trainee in Winograd's course. "He was a person who was listened to, had charisma, and greatly influenced the policy-making of the faculty, even though he was among the youngest members of the faculty. He was an excellent lecturer, very attentive to the students, knew the material well and presented it in an orderly and structured manner. The students really liked him."  

Along with the main areas of work, Winograd also managed to engage in side areas, such as developing a method for fine drilling in hard materials. In addition to working at the Technion, Winograd taught at Tel Aviv University, and also taught at Ben Gurion University in Be'er Sheva, whose engineering school was established as an affiliate of the Technion, and his lecturers used to teach there. He also worked in collaboration with the Rafael Company, then still the Authority for the Development of Weapons, apparently on rocket propulsion issues in which he was involved in his doctorate and postdoctoral studies.

Cluster Man

Winograd was not only a respected lecturer, but also a person with whom everyone felt comfortable, and with a sense of humor. "He knew how to speak to everyone at eye level," says Heller, recalling that in the course he studied with Winograd, the lectures were scheduled for eight in the morning. "Students don't like getting up early, and it was also a relatively small course, so it happened that he came to teach and there were no students. After it happened once or twice, he surprised us during practice, and said that if we don't want to come, that's fine, but let us know that he also likes to sleep in the morning. In the end, they changed the time of the lecture."

It was always interesting to talk to him about culture and art. Winograd with a piece of art he bought Photo courtesy of the Winograd family
It was always interesting to talk to him about culture and art. Winograd with a piece of art he bought Photo courtesy of the Winograd family

Alongside his scientific work, Shay Winograd was a lover of culture and art. He was himself a painter and sculptor, although he never studied art in any context, and his paintings still decorate the walls of the homes of family members and friends. "He was a group person, very intelligent, who was always interesting to sit and talk with," says Yael Bejarno, a family member. Moshe Heller recalled that during his time the students at the Technion were required to also study general studies. "Many times these were lectures on culture and art, and sometimes lecturers from the faculty would also come to listen. Shay was always there."

A painting by Winograd that currently hangs in his son's apartment, Alon | Photography: Itai Nebo
He did not miss art lectures, even when they were intended for students. A painting by Winograd that currently hangs in his son's apartment, Alon | Photography: Itai Nebo

In 1972 Shay and Ruth's youngest son, Michael (Mikey), was born. Despite the load in his work, he was a very devoted father to the three children, "he was an exemplary father, he nurtured the children, he was always with a child on his hands", Bejarno says. The middle son, Alon, would sometimes travel with his father by bus to his lectures in Tel Aviv and Be'er Sheva. "These were long trips, but he always had patience for the behavior of a small child," he says. "Today I regret not having these long hours with him. I have many things to ask him." 

Winograd with his daughter Sigal and son Alon in an apartment in the United States Photo courtesy of the Winograd family
An exemplary father. Winograd with his daughter Sigal and son Alon in an apartment in the United States Photo courtesy of the Winograd family

Reserve and last farewell

At the same time as his scientific work and his many other occupations, Winograd continued to serve in the reserves in the artillery corps. "He was a deputy battery commander in the reserves. We started with towed cannons that were spoils from Syria, and later we converted to self-propelled 155 millimeter cannons. He was a beloved commander, who always took care of his soldiers," says Yishai Shamali, a member of the unit. "Even in the reserves, he was always thinking about cleverness and inventions," adds Shamali. "We were stationed in the Jericho area for close to a month, and among other things, covered with artillery fire on patrols along the border. The Jordanians would respond with fire, and Shayka would send a soldier with a driver in advance to an area closer to the border, so that they would set off dummy charges there, to mislead the Jordanians and they would shell their area and not us. During one of the vacations, he developed a device that made it possible to activate these charges remotely, without endangering our soldiers who were there, and brought it to the reserve. A chief artillery officer saw this, and asked him to produce such devices for additional units."

Winograd (sitting on the right) during a break from operational activity Photo courtesy of the Winograd family
He brought ingenuity to the army as well. Winograd (sitting on the right) during a break from operational activity Photo courtesy of the Winograd family

About two months before the Yom Kippur War broke out, Vinograd's battery, which was already at the rank of major, completed reserve service at the Budapest outpost, on the banks of the Suez Canal. When the fighting broke out, the battery was mobilized to fight in the Golan Heights. "I remember being with my father in the synagogue, there was a rush at noon, he came home and I came with him," says his son Alon, who was about eight years old at the time. "I remember him going to the bedroom, arranging the bag. I accompanied him to the street, where a jeep came to pick him up. I said hello to him, and that's it."

The battery, commanded by My father Baram, participated in the difficult containment battles against the Syrian forces in the Nafah area, in the south of the Golan Heights. "When we arrived at the emergency warehouses, it turned out that instead of four cannons, we only have three, because they took the battalion's cannons for officers' course training. We drove with the cannons on the chains to the Golan Heights, and joined the battles," Heller said. A few days later, when the IDF managed to repel the Syrian armor, the battery reached the area of ​​the Syrian town of Khan Arnaba. "Sheika was not with us for most of the fighting. The battery commander and his deputy did not fight with the battery itself, but went forward with other forces, and served as artillery cooperation officers (Kshaa) - that is, they directed the battery's fire at the targets from there, said Shamali. "In Hare Khan he returned to us on October 10. We were together in a trench that the Syrians had abandoned, and we suffered a very heavy shelling. We left there shaking."

That day, during the brief respite at Khan Arnaba, Winograd met a good friend, and took the opportunity to write a quick note to Ruth. "Trying to send you another message - I don't know what's coming these days," he wrote and added instructions to call and update the spouses of other fighters, before concluding "A warm message and goodbye - kisses to the children." With love, Shay." A short time later he managed to send another postcard and wrote "Everything is fine so far - hope to return home soon".

Vinograd parted ways with the battery again, and joined the tank of Amos Ben-David, the commander of the armored battalion of the 679th brigade, which was on its way break the "America" ​​axis, the Quneitra-Damascus road, and start the IDF's advance into Syria itself. Not far from Khan Arnaba, the tank was hit directly by a Syrian shell. "Just before Tel Sha'ar I suddenly see a flash from Amos' tank," said David Menkin, Ben David's deputy. in the documentation of the events of the war. […] I stopped at the same time as him. The gunner came out of his tank, drinking blood. I look inside and see Amos dead. In the baggage compartment was the Ksha, a Technion professor named Winograd, and the baggage handler, both dead. The driver managed to get out and got into our tank, and we drove away so as not to get hurt as well [...] On the way back, another tank was hit. We left 11 tanks, and I returned with three tanks to Quneitra."

The last postcard Winograd wrote to his family from the war, and arrived after his fall Photo courtesy of the Winograd family
Hope to return home soon. The last postcard Winograd wrote to his family from the war, and arrived after his fall Photo courtesy of the Winograd family

national importance

Winograd was killed on the sixth day of the Yom Kippur War, a few weeks before his 35th birthday. "I don't think that words can express the magnitude of the loss for you, for the children, for the parents, for the Technion, and of course for all the people that Shi came in contact with," wrote Winograd's student, Lior Markin, in a letter from the US to Ruth's widow. He mentioned in the letter the great help he received from him in his master's degree studies and in writing recommendations for universities in the USA. "I am almost convinced that without the late Shay's help I would not be here right now, and I will always remember him with great appreciation. […] I also assume that I did not receive any special treatment from him, but that this was his human way of dealing with people and therefore his lack will be felt by all of us".

"He was a scientist from among the elite in the group, with his whole future ahead of him. […] A great researcher, whose genius knew how to harness theory and formulas to the wagon of reality, sought and found the way to apply the pure Torah to inventions of national importance", his uncle, the jurist Eliyahu Winograd, later a judge of the Supreme Court, eulogized him.

Winograd (sitting) with colleagues in the laboratory | Photo courtesy of the Winograd family
He wondered how he could use his training for research of national importance. Winograd (seated in the center) with colleagues in the laboratory Photo courtesy of the Winograd family

"Upon his return to Israel, he debated how he could use his training from the US for research of national importance," it was written about Winograd In the booklet commemorating the victims of the Technion in the Yom Kippur War. "[…] In addition to his research at the Technion, he was active in the research of the Negev Research Institute and lectured at the universities of Beer Sheva and Tel Aviv. Despite the intensity of his professional work, he did not avoid other pursuits - he was involved in social life and an art lover. [...] From the day he returned from his studies in the USA, he continued to serve in the reserves in the artillery corps and contributed to the IDF to the best of his ability, both in command and in technical inventions."

For the article on the Davidson Institute website

4 תגובות

  1. Of blessed memory!
    A great loss as a person, as a family man and a man of Eshkolot whose future is ahead of him.
    May we know how to unite around these figures of majesty who gave their lives for us.

  2. May peace be with me in Nebo,
    I enjoyed reading your articles about the young and brilliant scientists Alexander Wahlberg and Isaiah Winograd who were killed before their time in the Yom Kippur War. Winograd was known by my husband, the late Dr. Yehuda Zorf, when he studied with him for his first degree in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Technion and also for his master's degree, which he did while working at the same time At Raphael, in the field he studied with Winograd, rocket propulsion. We met right after the war, in 1974, and he constantly mourned and mourned the death of Winograd, about whom he spoke a lot.
    I thank you for bringing back these memories, as well as for your "brainwashing", the scientific quizzes that we really liked to solve together and I continue to do so even after my husband's death two months ago...
    With a good signing and a calm, successful and healthy year,
    Rina added
    Retired Weizmann Institute employee

  3. How many good people died, and more for the political sophistication of scoundrels, who do the same today,
    The country should have died alone, and not taken all the good people with it...

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