Coming soon: The Technion’s First Escape Room

August 29, 2017
Kevin Hattori

Three student design teams were selected as the winners of the Technion’s first “Escape Room” competition, which was held recently by the Office of the Dean of Students. Combining plenty of innovative technologies and a large dose of creativity, the winning designs will be combined into a single escape room open to the public during the upcoming school year.

Group photo of the three winning Technion Escape Room competition teams, with Dean of Prof. Benny Natan (back row, center)

An escape room is a physical adventure game in which participants solve a series of puzzles using strategy, hints and clues to complete the objectives at hand. Players are given a time limit to unveil the secret plot hidden within the room.

The competition was held on the initiative of the Technion Dean of Students to promote the collegiate atmosphere on campus. The project’s goal was to bring young people and adults closer to the worlds of science and engineering, and to make the Technion more accessible to the general public through action, creativity and advanced technology. More than anything, participants were charged with creating an escape room that is fun to play, and something that the general public could enjoy.

“Escape rooms have become quite popular among the general public,” said Program coordinator Daniel Griever. “And we know that a Technion escape room based on the diverse multi-disciplinary capabilities of our students will offer the audience a very unique experience.”

Of 22 groups of students in the competition, five were selected to build rooms. They received six weeks of close supervision by escape room experts Yoni Papini and Tali Marchevsky. The judging committee that selected the three winning teams included Technion Senior Executive Vice President Prof. Adam Shwartz, who served as chairman; escape room expert Ronen Maital; and Technion Dean of Students Prof. Benny Natan.

Prof. Natan came up with the idea of setting up an escape room at the Technion after his family visited one while vacationing in Italy.

At the awards ceremony, he told the winners, “I thank you for the great investment of time and effort in the plans that you presented to us. Your suggestions attest to the special skills and high level of creativity among the students at the Technion. This creativity will not disappear but will also serve you in your professional career.”

First prize was awarded to students Itai Meshorer, Adi Kupershmidt, Raz Kagan, Itai Tsabari and Dor Zohar. The team decided at the outset that their room would not be just a “riddle room” but a place that would give the visitor a powerful sensory experience of detachment from reality, with a credible and overwhelming plot. Without giving any details that would spoil the experience, they shared that their escape room takes visitors on a virtual tour of the Technion in Haifa; Cornell Tech, home of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute on New York’s Roosevelt Island; and the Guangdong Technion- Israel Institute of Technology in Guangdong, China.

Second prize was awarded to Idan Peretz, a dual-degree student in civil and environmental engineering and architecture and town planning; Yuval Calderon, who is studying science and materials engineering) and three other students from the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning: Dana Assor, Yaniv Hattiel and Sivan Bosni. The team of creative students decided to realize one of the urban legends making the rounds at the Technion in their escape room: a mysterious underground city that lies beneath the campus.

Third prize was awarded to Yan Yitshkovitz, a student at the Faculty of Computer Science, and four students from the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering: Shelly Magen, Alon Feldman, Hadar Wolfman and Tamara Halif.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is a major source of the innovation and brainpower that drives the Israeli economy, and a key to Israel’s renown as the world’s “Start-Up Nation.” Its three Nobel Prize winners exemplify academic excellence. Technion people, ideas and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world including life-saving medicine, sustainable energy, computer science, water conservation and nanotechnology. The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute is a vital component of Cornell Tech, and a model for graduate applied science education that is expected to transform New York City’s economy.

American Technion Society (ATS) donors provide critical support for the Technion—more than $2 billion since its inception in 1940. Based in New York City, the ATS and its network of supporters across the U.S. provide funds for scholarships, fellowships, faculty recruitment and chairs, research, buildings, laboratories, classrooms and dormitories, and more.