U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory Grant Completed by AUA College of Engineering

AUA’s Engineering Research Center recently completed a research project for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The multi-year project required the design and prototyping of a laser probe system that allows for real-time detection of defects in solar cells made from silicon wafers.  The equipment can be used for quality control during the manufacturing process or as an instrument for researchers investigating the causes of defects in the crystalline material during the production process. 
Dr. Artak Hambarian, the Principal Investigator of the project, says “the device consists of several parts: There is a precisely balanced high spin turntable (up to 4000 rpm) with a probe arm, accurate to 1 micrometer, that scans the surface of the silicon. We have also developed control and Graphical User Interface software. The apparatus has a data acquisition system and 3-channel laser probe.”  NREL is currently testing the system with the aim of commercialization.

The high precision turntable The system setup at NREL


Third Knowledge for Development Center Lecture Series: Inequality: Does It Matter?

The Knowledge for Development Center, a joint partnership between the AUA Papazian Library and World Bank in Armenia, held its third lecture series on June 2, 2011, at PAB Manoogian Hall. The presentation titled “Inequality: Does It Matter?” was given by World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus Countries, Dr. Asad Alam, who discussed the various dimensions of inequality as well as issues of measurement. Dr. Alam also presented global trends and recent developments in Armenia, and analyzed the role of public policy. He addressed how public policy can help maximize the impact of growth on poverty reduction and inequality. According to Dr. Alam, Public Policy should focus on: accelerating shared growth and job creation; improving public service delivery; strengthening social protection; and enhancing the monitoring of progress in poverty reduction. Dr. Alam’s conclusion was that rapid economic growth is fundamentally important for job creation and, consequently, reducing poverty. The lecture was open to the public and was given in English with simultaneous translation into Armenian.

AUA Law Hosts Armenian Open Legal Tumblog 1st Anniversary Forum

On June 4, 2011, the AUA Law Department co-hosted a legal forum to help introduce young lawyers and law students to the Armenian Open Legal Tumblog. For over a year now the Tumblog has served as an online forum for young legal professionals to engage in civic discourse on all legal issues related to Armenia. Papers published on this online forum deal with issues as far ranging as the case law of the European Court of Human Rights to legal problem-solving methodology, uniform citation and the use of precedent in Armenia. The forum at AUA provided an opportunity for face-to-face discussions on these and other issues, including a debate on certain provisions of the RA Law on Citizenship. Participants left the forum energized and eager to contribute to the further development the Armenian Open Legal Tumblog and to the development of law in Armenian.

An Examination of the First Armenian Lobby in America

On June 9, 2011, the American University of Armenia hosted a public lecture entitled “An Examination of the First Armenian Lobby in America, 1918-1927, and its Relevance for Today” by Gregory Aftandilian, Northeastern University, Boston. The event was opened by AUA President, Bruce Boghosian.
Mr. Aftandilian is an independent consultant, writer, and lecturer, and is the faculty co-leader of Northeastern University’s summer studies program in Armenia, held at AUA.  He spent over 21 years in U.S. Government service, most recently on Capitol Hill where he was foreign policy advisor to Congressman Chris Van Hollen, professional staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mr. Aftandilian is a specialist in Armenian-American history.  He is author of the book, Armenia: Vision of a Republic. The Independence Lobby in America, 1918-1927, and “World War II as an Enhancer of Armenian-American Second Generation Identity”.
At the end of World War I, an Armenian-American lawyer named Vahan Cardashian organized an active lobby group called the American Committee for the Independence of Armenia, with the aim of securing U.S. assistance for the independent Armenia. 
“Vahan Cardashian, a prominent and well-connected lawyer at the time, came to realize that previous Armenian efforts to influence the Wilson Administration were not effective, and he decided to create a lobby group in 1918 called the American Committee for the Independence of Armenia, made up of prominent American political, religious, and educational leaders.  Cardashian was ultimately not successful in securing any tangible U.S. assistance for Armenian independence because of the delay in the treaty with the Ottoman Empire and the rise of isolationist sentiment in America, but he was a dedicated individual, deeply devoted to the Armenian Cause,” stated Mr. Aftandilian.
Mr. Aftandilian discussed the story of this lobby and why it ultimately failed. He compared the past to the present by analyzing the history of the American Committee for the Independence of Armenia and what can be learned from that lobby’s experience. 


Young Artists Join the Fight Against Passive Smoking

On June 13-14, the Center for Health Services Research and Development, American University of Armenia (CHSR/AUA) organized two exhibitions to advocate for non-smokers’ rights in Armenia. These events were planned and implemented within a broader tobacco control advocacy project supported by the Open Society Foundations – Armenia.  They were the result of the fruitful collaboration between the CHSR/AUA tobacco control team and two youth educational centers, namely the College-Studio of the National Center of Aesthetics, directed by Mr. Samvel Baghdasaryan, and the Davitashen Municipality’s Youth Creativity Center, led by Mr. Armen Martirosyan. 


The students of the College-Studio of the National Center of Aesthetics presented their fascinating work in front of Yerevan State University. Using the language of art, they expressed their understanding of and attitude toward the problem of smoking.  The invited media interviewed young artists who passionately described their ideas transformed into paintings and multidimensional art objects.


The CHSR/AUA team engaged in face-to-face dialog with the visitors of the exhibition, mostly students and faculty of Yerevan State University, persuading smokers not to expose their friends and family to secondhand smoke, and encouraging non-smokers to protect their right for smoke-free air at worksites and public places. They also distributed flyers with a hot-line number for non-smokers and information on the health hazards of passive smoking.


The next event took place at the Youth Creativity Center of the Davitashen Municipality where more than twenty children presented their anti-smoking paintings. The Head of the Davitashen’s Municipality, Mr. Gevorgyan, a non-smoker himself, emphasized the importance of raising awareness of children about the problem of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure starting from their early ages.

Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are serious public health problems in Armenia. Current tobacco control legislation only partially protects the rights of non-smokers, including children. Moreover, children are exposed to secondhand smoke not only in their homes, but also in public places: According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS 2004), nine out of ten schoolchildren in Armenia were exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes, and eight out of ten in public places.

The CHSR team will strive together with the partners to promote the idea of the smoke-free lifestyle by bringing the paintings of the talented children and youngsters to the attention of diverse audiences, including policymakers and others.


AUA Graduation: 20 Years of Advancement

Commencement 2011

“Twenty Years of Advancement” was the slogan as the American University of Armenia (AUA) celebrated its 20th anniversary year, and held its 19th Graduation and Commencement Ceremonies during the last week of June.

Festivities began on Friday, June 24, with a graduation party at Ashtaraki Dzor, where AUA faculty and staff congratulated the Class of 2011, and celebrated the occasion of their graduation with dinner, music and dance. The party brought together about 300 graduates, alumni, past and present faculty, and staff.

On Sunday, June 26, 2011, AUA held its Commencement Ceremony in the large auditorium of AUA’s main building on 40 Baghramyan Avenue in Yerevan. The gathering of well over 1000 included parents and spouses of the graduates and many distinguished guests, all assembled to honor the graduating class of 2011.

The Commencement Exercises began with the ceremonial procession of the class of 2011, the President of AUA, the Deans of the Colleges and the faculty. This was followed by the anthems of the Republic of Armenia and the United States of America. An invocation was then given by His Grace Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian, Director of the Publishing Center of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, and Representative of his Holiness Garegin II, Catholicos of All Armenians.

AUA President, Dr. Bruce Boghosian, then welcomed the graduates, their families, faculty and many distinguished guests. In the course of his address, President Bruce Boghosian stated, “Remember that the highest expression of your patriotism is your willingness to help your fellow citizens. This means that, even as you begin your careers, you should find ways to volunteer your time and energy to help this country’s public institutions grow and thrive. This is what we mean by ‘active citizenship.’ Civic engagement is the glue that binds a country and its people together, and that makes the whole greater than simply the sum of its parts. AUA has always and will always endeavor to create ‘active citizens’ who will make a difference in the future of Armenia.”

Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian, Taisei Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, Founding Dean of AUA’s College of Engineering, and member of AUA’s Board of Trustees, then conveyed greetings to AUA on behalf of the University of California. AUA has been an affiliate of the University of California since its inception in 1991. Indeed, the University of California is one of the organizations that founded AUA, along with the Armenian Ministry of Education and Science and the Armenian General Benevolent Union.

Commencement addresses were delivered by Deputy Minister of Justice of RA, Mr. Emil Babayan, and Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the USA, Mr. Bruce Donahue.

During his address, Deputy Minister Babayan stated, “We no longer have the right to again abuse God’s favor and treat our independent Republic with the same lack of attention. Dear graduates, the responsibility to maintain our independence, bought at the price of our people’s sacrifices, is now also yours.”

During his address, Chargé d’Affaires Donahue stated, “My message is simple. I challenge you today to become active citizens, to make your communities and workplaces better, to make a difference. You will face decisions at every step of your professional and personal journey – hiring choices you make at your business, the values you teach your children, how you treat the disadvantaged, whether you put integrity above gain – and they all conspire to create the world you live in.”

Valedictorians Ms. Nonna Kamalyan (Armenian address) and Mr. Addeh S. Hovassapian (English address) then spoke on behalf of the students of the Class of 2011.

After this, 202 motivated men and women were presented by their respective Deans and called to the stage to receive Master’s Degrees in Business Administration, Political Science and International Affairs, Public Health, English Programs, Law, Industrial Engineering and Systems Management and Computer and Information Sciences. These new graduates join AUA’s 1,928 alumni for a total of 2,130. Seventy-four of them now have two master degrees from AUA.

The graduates concluded the exercises by throwing their caps in the air. Warm words of congratulations were exchanged during an open reception that followed.

AUA graduates now occupy important leadership positions, such as Deputy Minister of Justice, Deputy Minister of Defense, Ambassador to India, as well as many high-level directors and leaders of private corporations and international organizations.

  • College of Health Sciences was selected by the Ministry of Health, USAID and other international organizations to evaluate the nationwide child health care state certificate program. It also continues its efforts on the goal of a tobacco-free Armenia.
  • Department of Law held the first Intellectual Property Moot Court for law students throughout Armenian here at AUA.
  • School of Business and Management, in cooperation with the University Curriculum Committee reviewed, completed and implemented a new business curriculum, designed to accommodate the needs of working professionals, including a new 2.5 year professional MBA program with evening classes.
  • Department of Political Science and International Affairs, together with the US Embassy, launched a new cycle of the Mentoring Program for Women that pairs professional women with AUA students.
  • The Acopian Center for the Environment developed, implemented and is in the process of publishing a Biodiversity Monitoring System as a tool for monitoring the exploitation of natural resources, such as forests, open grasslands and wetlands in Armenia.
  • A team of cryptography researchers and students from our Computing and Information Sciences program in the College of Engineering initiated collaborative research projects with NTX Research and the Volkswagen Foundation in Hanover, Germany.
  • A team of computer-aided design students led by an Industrial Engineering and Systems Management faculty member carried out a collaborative design of a novel wind turbine, together with colleagues at Florida State University.
  • The Department of English Programs convened a very successful conference on language assessment and research methods in May 2011, including distinguished scholars from UCLA and Cal. State U. LA. The conference had 130 attendees, all of whom were English teachers in Armenia.
  • The Turpanjian Rural Development Program through its field offices in Shirak and Tavush Marzes and in Nagorno Karabagh has so far trained over 675 rural entrepreneurs and helped over 145 businesses in villages.
  • Through a generous donation from the Turpanjian Family Foundation, the digital Library of Armenian classics and Western Armenian literature developed a marketing program that is having implications to the marketing of digitized Armenian cultural artifacts.

Videos for addresses are available in Videos section



Breastfeeding Promotion and Regulation of Infant Food

On July 1, 2011, as part of the Public Health Seminar Series, the AUA College of Health Sciences, in collaboration with Confidence Health NGO and World Vision Armenia, organized a panel discussion on “Legislative regulation of breastfeeding promotion and marketing of infant food.” Dr. Robert Bagramian, Dean of the AUA College of Health Sciences, Dr. Ara Babloyan, Chair of the Standing Committee on Health Care, Maternity and Childhood, National Assembly of RA, and Dr. Naira Gharakhanyan, Child Health Campaign Manager, World Vision Armenia opened the panel discussion and welcomed the participants. Dr. Karine Saribekyan, Chair of the Maternal and Child Health Department, Ministry of Health, Dr. Susanna Harutyunyan, President of the Confidence Health NGO, and Suren Krmoyan, Chief of the Staff, Ministry of Health discussed the current situation and problems related to breastfeeding, marketing, distribution, advertisement and dissemination of information about infant food and related products, as well as regulation of any form of infant food promotion in Armenia.
The event was organized with support from the Counterpart International, USAID and AUA College of Health Sciences.

Representatives of different NGOs, medical providers, faculty and researchers participated in the active discussion following the presentations of panelists. 



American University of Armenia and Armenian General Benevolent Union Visit the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic

American University of Armenia (AUA) President, Dr. Bruce Boghosian, and Interim Provost, Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian, visited the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) from 11 to 13 July 2011, as part of a delegation arranged by the Armenian General Benevolent Union, led by Mr. Ashot Ghazarian.

On Tuesday, July 12, Boghosian, Der Kiureghian and Ghazarian visited NKR Prime Minister, Mr. Arayik Harutyunyan, and NKR Minister of Education and Science, Mr. Vladik Khachatryan. During their visit, among other topics, they discussed the NKR government’s desire to provide scholarships to qualified students from NKR who wish to attend AUA. This year, the Ministry of Education and Science of NKR has allocated five such scholarships. The President of the AUA reaffirmed the University’s commitment to give high priority to qualified applicants from the NKR. Discussions were also held on the need to establish English language training courses and preparation courses for standardized tests required by the University.

The AUA President and Interim Provost also visited the office in Stepanakert of the AUA-managed Turpanjian Rural Development Program (TRDP). There they spoke with the Program Leader, Mr. Armen Sardaryan, and the Program Manager, Ms. Nonna Poghosian. They discussed the TRDP in general, the TRDP Young Entrepreneurs Program, and the above-mentioned student scholarships of the NKR Ministry of Education and Science.

PM Arayik Harutyunyan and Ashot Ghazarian
Bruce Boghosian and Armen Der Kiureghian
Armen Der Kiureghian, Minister Vladik Khachatryan, Bruce Boghosian

American University of Armenia signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Armenia and Other Universities on July 16, 2011