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AUA-MIT Collaboration Brings Value to Students

Dr. Areg Danagoulian with AUA students

Dr. Areg Danagoulian with AUA students

Throughout the course of the 2022-2023 academic year, two series of lectures at the American University of Armenia (AUA), in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) International Science and Technology Initiative (MISTI), were conducted to bring specialized topics to engineering enthusiasts.

Led by MIT Associate Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering Dr. Areg Danagoulian and supported by Flagship Pioneering Founder and CEO Dr. Noubar Afeyan, this collaboration aimed at engaging some of the brightest minds from MIT to share their knowledge and research expertise with students in Armenia. Some of the participating students reflected on their experiences and the value of what they learned during the lecture. 

 

Davit Gyulnazaryan

B.S. in Computer Science ‘25
Nora and Herb Tertzag Memorial Endowed Scholarship

I chose to major in computer science (CS) because it can provide many opportunities and paths for my future career. It is a good option to have a general foundation and then enhance it by choosing tracks such as data science or bioinformatics. I also think that through AUA, I will get involved in various international research projects. AUA has a great community — it encourages learning and provides us with all the tools to do so. It is also very easy to find like-minded people here who are interested in the same subjects and are eager to assist one another to better grasp the materials.

I participated in two courses organized by MIT professors and students. One of the courses was titled “Nuclear Detection with Geiger Counters.” It taught us how to construct a geiger counter from scratch. The project involved multiple disciplines such as knowledge in physics models to be able to collect data. Analyzing data is challenging so we had to apply knowledge in statistics and, of course, basic CS background such as coding the program itself. These multiple disciplines were difficult to combine, but it was a good opportunity to see a small scale research project because most real-life projects involve a lot of different disciplines and people from different backgrounds. Communication is very important in this case. The second course was called “Approximate methods for analytic calculations” which primarily focused on math. This experience provided me with hard skills and motivated me to dig deeper to find out how certain theories can be applied in real-life. This course also reinforced my passion for math courses at AUA. 

Currently, I am focusing on gaining a solid foundation by studying. I would like to work at a company that applies CS as a scientific discipline rather than regular development — a workplace that involves both development and research. I’m determined to spend some amount of my time on research, and there are several institutes in Armenia, such as the Armenia Bioinformatics Institute and the Orbeli Institute of Physiology where I can engage in research. Thus my main focus is to continue advancing my education, specifically in bioinformatics, CS disciplines, such as algorithm design, and data science.

At the moment, I recognize the significance of being a scholarship recipient more than I did when I was a freshman. Now that I’m fully integrated into university life, I realize that my academic achievements and the opportunity to be a part of this amazing community are entirely contingent on my scholarship. I truly value this opportunity and I’m grateful to my donors for giving me a chance to be here.

 

Ani Gasparyan

B.S. in Engineering Sciences ‘26
Krikor Garo Anoushian Memorial Scholarship from the AGBU endowment

From an early age, I was interested in how systems worked and liked getting my “hands dirty” in different creative projects. When I researched the programs offered at AUA, engineering appealed to me because it offered courses I was interested to explore. A few days after getting my acceptance letter to AUA, I received a notice of being awarded a scholarship. I was very excited because it was something that would help my parents tremendously. Not having to worry about tuition makes my experience here much more meaningful and stress-free. 

A friend of mine attended the “Nuclear Detection with Geiger Counters” workshop led by AUA alumni Grigor Tukharyan. She told me about her experience which piqued my interest, so I applied. Since I had no prior background in nuclear engineering, this was something new and exciting for me; I like to challenge myself to learn new things. I learned the basics of nuclear science and how to build a geiger counter, which was really exciting because all the components were new to me and I acquired a new skill every step of the way.

I think having research projects at AUA is very important, and this workshop gave me an idea of what I want to do in the future, which is to focus on research in the field of mechanical engineering. As of now, I want to pursue a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and I want to help Armenia build a machinery manufacturing company because we don’t have anything like that. I want to find investors in Armenia and help students interested in mechanical engineering find employment opportunities in Armenia. 

 

Tigran Fahradyan

B.S. in Computer Science ‘25
Manoogian Simone Foundation Scholarship

I was admitted to AUA in 2019, but had to complete my mandatory military service prior to attending the University. I believe AUA has one of the best academic communities in Armenia, made up of disciplined and hardworking people. Getting to know them has helped me tremendously to readjust to civilian life and grow as a person. My scholarship is also very important to me because it gives me a chance to completely focus on my studies. It was an extremely important and helpful gift and I am grateful for it.

Currently, my main interests are in computational biology and machine learning and how they can be applied in real life. I participated in “Approximate methods for analytic calculations” led by Khachatur Nazarian. I initially signed up to participate because an MIT student was teaching it, and I thought that even if I didn’t have any background about the subject matter, I would definitely learn something new. At that point I was taking calculus and other math courses, so I was very interested in the subject and it ended up being a very productive experience for me. 

I also participate in a competitive programming club where we do additional work with one of my professors. Outside of AUA, I am enrolled in a class at the Armenia Bioinformatics Institute. I love both math and biology — they are very different but when combined, they make a lot of sense. Biology is complicated and math is very concrete. We are trying to make sense of biology by applying certain tools through math, and this intersection is interesting for me to explore. I’m also interested in artificial intelligence. If you have a machine as smart as a human being, you can solve many problems. 

I work hard and prioritize my education and I am highly interested in pursuing a career in research. The ideal work environment for me would be a company or organization that shares my values and vision and strives to solve important global issues facing the world today, such as biological startups. For me, success is doing what I love: working in a company or launching a startup that is aligned with my personal vision and values. I think AUA offers opportunities for me to achieve my definition of success. It provides the necessary tools, knowledge, and hard skills to solve problems.