Daniel Ghevondian, adjunct lecturer in AUA’s Zaven & Sonia Akian College of Science & Engineering (CSE) kindly agreed to answer a few questions to let the AUA community get to know him a little bit better.
Mr. Ghevondian, what initially influenced your choice of profession? Tell us a little bit about your background.
From a very young age I was interested in technical fields, especially mechanics. I graduated from the Islamic Azad University, Tehran Branch with a degree in mechanics (heat and fluids), with the intention of starting my career in that field. I was employed at a company specialized in service and maintenance of industrial cooling systems, but after working there for two and a half years, I suffered an accident and had to stay home and recover for several months.
In 2005, I started studying in AUA’s Industrial Engineering and Systems Management (IESM) program. For me, it felt like a new beginning for my studies. I decided to apply to the IESM program because, in my opinion, mechanical engineering and industrial engineering complement each other. Throughout my years studying, from 2005 to 2006, I managed to perform well and received great support from my instructors. During that time, AUA was like a home to me, with quite comfortable facilities. I often spent my whole day at AUA, reading books until midnight, working on projects and doing homework.
Upon graduating from AUA, I applied for a position that specialized in packaging of high pressure compressors. I worked there for almost three years, and after that I switched to another industry – growth of sapphire crystals and grinding, polishing and coating for military and medical applications. After that, from December 2010 onward, I entered the food and beverage industry. My start was at the new Pepsi plant in Armenia, where I worked for four years, after which I worked for the Armenia Wine Factory for one year, and finally, in 2016, I started my current position helping to build a new plant in Jermuk for Jermuk mineral carbonated water and Byuregh spring water.
Tell us a little bit about your experience as a member of the AUA faculty. How do you like it? How did you come to choose AUA?
Actually, a very interesting thing happened as a member of the AUA faculty! During my studies we had an instructor from Michigan University, Dr. Houshyar. I was fortunate to have him as an instructor for all of our core industrial courses. He lectured on OR1, OR2, operations management, and simulation of industrial engineering systems. A year after our graduation, he told us that due to some medical reasons he could not physically continue teaching classes at AUA. Since he had been covering the major courses, the College of Science & Engineering had to find a substitute. They managed to find instructors for all his courses except for the simulation course. Finally, Dr. Houshyar recommended me as his substitute. I began working as his assistant during lectures, which he was supposed to deliver from his office at Michigan University via video conferencing. Due to the weak connection quality and low internet speed it became impossible to manage the sessions, so he suggested that I handle all responsibilities for conducting lectures, giving homework assignments and exams, and grading. So, I became an associate teacher in 2009, a couple of years later they offered me a position covering the Operations Management course, which is now called Production System Analysis, and I’ve been a visiting lecturer since 2011 or 2012.
For all these years I have been combining my full-time job with my AUA teaching responsibilities, which I have to say, is not an easy job. But I enjoy the class hours a lot, and I like what I do at AUA. Every year I try to become more involved with the University and strengthen my dedication to the classes and students, but it’s definitely difficult to do with a family and a full-time job.
What do you think of today’s Armenian youth, judging from what you see at AUA? What is your perspective regarding the future of Armenian academia?
In terms of my perspective of Armenian academia and the future of the education industry in Armenia, I can say with confidence that AUA has taken on the biggest role in raising the standard of education to an international level. It has already been more than a decade that AUA graduates are enrolling in PhD programs and higher education programs in international universities all around the world. Without AUA, it would not be possible to receive an education at such an international level.
The biggest change that I can see in students is their focus on their programs and university activities. When I was a student, there were many things that were difficult for me to understand as an Armenian from the diaspora, such as constantly being asked why I dressed the way I did or why my hair looked a certain way.Now, no one is concerned about those sorts of things because they know why they are at AUA and they understand what their responsibilities as AUA students are. I graduated 10 years ago and I can see that these sorts of issues are not a concern for students. This is because of the culture, the way of thinking, and the freedom that AUA provides and will continue to provide in the future.
Concerning the future of Armenian academia, I have to say that I do not see a positive picture. We have a large number of Armenian students, and if only AUA is acting as the performer then we cannot have a generation of leaders who will be able to change the country for the better. AUA should act as a conductor in education orchestra, and with the government’s support, all Armenian educational institutions should play their music with the same tact in order to assemble a great symphony orchestra on the international stage.