Instructor Story: Checking in with CSE’s David Tan
Dr. David Tan, adjunct lecturer at the Akian College of Science and Engineering (CSE) of the American University of Armenia (AUA), joined the University in the Fall semester of 2019. He is a mechanical engineer experienced in experimental research, project management, and software development, and CAD. Dr. Tan worked as a research scientist for the U.S. Navy running experiments to improve the design of ships and submarines. He has also worked as a flight test engineer for the Singapore Air Force, testing a variety of modifications on fighter jets and formulating Air Force safety regulations for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Read the below interview to learn more about him and his opinion of AUA.
Dr. David Tan, you hold a graduate degree in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a PhD in mechanical engineering from Johns Hopkins University. What has influenced your choice of profession?
I have always wanted to fly airplanes, especially fighter jets. However, that dream was shattered after getting a knee injury from football. Since I was pretty decent at math and science, I decided the next best thing to flying planes was to build them. One thing led to another and I became an engineer for the Air Force, working at an exciting but stressful job testing fighter jets. My job got me pretty close to fighter jets but never quite into the air, as I would have liked. After my PhD, I decided to take on a more down-to-earth job that was more in-line with my research area. As a research scientist for the Navy, I was introduced to a different world which was no less exciting, but certainly less stressful.
You joined the University quite recently. What brought you here to AUA?
I heard about AUA through a friend who works here as an adjunct professor. I have also heard many good things about AUA, in particular, that it’s the best university in Armenia. After getting to know more about CSE through Dean Aram Hajian, I was excited about his vision for CSE and the Engineering Sciences program, so I decided to give it a try.
Tell us about your experience as a member of the AUA faculty. How do you like it?
Everyone has been very welcoming, from the President to the staff, to the students. Since the Fall semester began, the campus has been bustling with life and activity, very much like campuses in the U.S. Very exciting. I am thankful for the new faculty orientation program which definitely helped with the transition. The support staff has also been quite excellent.
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?
The Armenian youth that I have met at AUA are very intelligent, and are quite eager to learn. They are not afraid to make known their opinions and ask questions. I believe that, given the right motivation and direction, the young people here at AUA have the potential to be leaders in this country. In terms of Armenian academia, AUA is certainly heading in a positive direction. I have met many talented faculty from all over the world, and I think they will contribute to strengthening the academic ecosystem in Armenia. As with all academic institutions, there is always more work to be done in terms of enhancing the academic breadth and depth, but I think that the outlook is bright.