Nina Kirakiosyan Deshpande Symposium
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Rising Senior Presents at the Deshpande Symposium

2 min read

Rising senior of the American University of Armenia (AUA) Nina Kirakiosyan (BS CS ‘21) recently presented on a panel with five higher education experts at the 9th Annual Deshpande Symposium’s virtual event “Drive Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Higher Education.” Having participated in the study abroad program partnered between Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and AUA, Kirakosyan shared her experience with Lean Start-Up Pedagogy in Project-Based Learning. As the only student on the panel, Kirakosyan discussed the emergent benefits of project-based learning and how it has helped her face the unanticipated real-life challenges while working with a sponsoring organization. According to Kirakosyan, that experience helped her develop, review, and adjust plans of action; navigate the sponsor’s often ambiguous requests; resolve differing opinions; and build consensus within the team.

I was excited to share my experience and reflect on the benefits of learning with lean start-up pedagogy methods at the Deshpande Symposium. I was presenting with my past instructors and representatives from AUA and WPI. I had never presented at this kind of large conference before, and being a firm believer in learning through stepping outside the comfort zone, I took advantage of the opportunity. Working in interdisciplinary and intercultural teams on real-life projects was an excellent opportunity to work on something with societal value, while gaining skills essential in real-life professional environments,” remarks Kirakosyan. 

The panel experts who presented alongside Kirakosyan were Dr. Sharistan Melkonian, Dean of General Education at AUA; Curtis Abel, Director and Professor of Practice, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Integration at WPI; Joseph A. Doiron, Assistant Teaching Professor at WPI; Paula Quinn, Honoring Thurgood Founder; and Marc Trudeau, WPI alumnus and agile coach at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. 

“We are always excited to see our students participating in the international discourse on innovation in education. In sharing her experience with so many during this higher education conference, Nina underscored the important role that innovation in education has in preparing graduates to face the many challenges that communities face around the globe,” says Dr. Melkonian.

Co-founded by the Deshpande Foundation and the University of Massachusetts in 2012, the Deshpande Symposium is an annual event that aims to advance innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education by connecting like-minded individuals to share ideas and best practices from campuses around the world. 

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.