April 19, 2024
Judith Hocherman-Frommer: Leading Defense Innovation for Israel
Iron Dome

Judith Hocherman-Frommer always envisioned an academic career at the Technion. After all, she spent 10 years there. She received three degrees in electrical engineering and control systems. After a postdoc at Princeton University, she taught as an adjunct lecturer for three years, while working full time at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.  

“I thought I would get some real-world experience before immersing myself in academia,” she said. She intended to stay for one year, but 27 years later, Hocherman-Frommer is the executive vice president for research and development (R&D) at Rafael.   

She is responsible for setting the R&D strategy, finding trends, and determining where to put the research dollars for investment. She also oversees systems engineering and is responsible for collaborations with academia and businesses.   

There are several collaborative programs with the Technion from teaching and student employment to collaboration in research. They send employees to the University to do research and the Technion sends students to do their degrees at Rafael. In some cases, employees are getting degrees from the Technion while doing their research at Rafael’s facilities.  

“The Technion makes a great contribution to the qualitative competitive edge of Israel, which is extremely important for the country,” she said. “Many of our employees are Technion alumni and other leading industries employ Technion graduates.”

When Hocherman-Frommer began her studies at the Technion in 1984, she was one of only about 10 women in a class of hundreds in electrical engineering. But it was never a concern to her, nor did she face any obstacles or discrimination.   

Today, there are times when she is the only woman at the table, particularly in meetings with high-ranking military officers, but she has never felt out of place or disrespected. “I am appreciated for the contributions I make.”   

Hocherman-Frommer is very proud of the role Rafael plays in keeping Israel safe. At the end of 2019, Forbes magazine rated two of Rafael’s innovations among the 12 most significant defense systems of the decade: Iron Dome and Trophy, both of which are playing major roles in the current Hamas-Israel war.  

Iron Dome has saved thousands upon thousands of lives. Its ability to destroy rockets in mid-air with more than 90% accuracy allows Israelis to live life in war with some degree of normalcy. Trophy has saved the lives of countless soldiers. It protects tanks from anti-tank guided missiles and high-explosive artillery.  

“After the Forbes article, I thought, what do I have to invest in now for the next decade?” She’s sure Iron Beam will be the next super innovation. It uses a high-energy laser interceptor, and not a missile, to destroy targets, and is expected to be ready by 2025.   

Of her alma mater, Hocherman-Frommer said, “The Technion makes a great contribution to the qualitative competitive edge of Israel, which is extremely important for the country.   

“The Technion is a place of excellence. Working hard and striving to excel are the keys to success. I got this from the Technion.”