AUA Students at WPI
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AUA Students Participate in Fifth Study Abroad Collaboration With WPI 

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YEREVAN, Armenia — On January 5, eight American University of Armenia (AUA) students — Greta Khandanyan (BAB ’24), Mayis Jraghatspanyan (BAB ’25), Nona Hovhannisyan (BAEC ’24), Hakob Janesian (BSDS ’24), Emma Hovhannisyan (BSDS ’24), Mariam Yayloyan (BSDS ’25), Nazeli Ter-Petrosyan (BCS ’25), and Alesya Ghandilyan (BSES ’25) — arrived at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts as a part of a unique inter-institutional study abroad program. Accompanying them for the initial two weeks was Zaven P. and Sonia Akian College of Science and Engineering (CSE) Assistant Professor Dr. Hrachya Kocharyan. This year represents an important milestone in this ongoing collaboration, marking the fifth year of the fruitful partnership between AUA and WPI. 

Over the course of seven weeks, the students will immerse themselves in two WPI courses of their choice and commence preparations for the Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP), a foundational component of the study abroad program. The IQP involves collaborative teamwork between AUA and WPI students to address and find solutions to community-based challenges in Armenia, where aspects of science and society intersect. The projects will be initiated at WPI, and upon completion of the term, AUA students will return to Armenia with their WPI peers to carry out fieldwork for the Armenia-based projects. 

AUA Dean of General Education Dr. Sharistan Melkonian underscores the significance of fruitful collaborative efforts and the unique opportunities offered to AUA students: “The local and global challenges facing the next generation of college graduates can only be addressed through meaningful collaboration. This partnership builds that understanding and the essential skills necessary for graduates to build a promising future.”

Throughout the first two weeks, Dr. Kocharyan has already witnessed the students’ enthusiastic approach to and active involvement in WPI’s academic life. “The ongoing cooperation and the study abroad program are an excellent opportunity for the students to enhance their studies with this unique chance to obtain another perspective on problem-solving and teamwork while simultaneously taking classes that may not be offered at AUA,” he stated. “Moreover, this chance for professional growth happens abroad, away from family and friends, outside their comfort zone, which will have an immense impact on shaping the students’ future. Even the first two weeks that I spent with them were enough to witness all the positive changes for our students.”

Throughout their studies at WPI, AUA students will engage in courses within a multicultural setting, collaborating with peers from diverse educational backgrounds to address community-based issues. This experience promises both academic and professional development. CSE Dean Dr. Aram Hajian notes, “We are thrilled at the opportunity our students have. They are soaking up so much from their experience at WPI, not only as learners, but also as ambassadors, and enhancing the inter-institutional relationship.”

Embarking on this academic journey, the students reflected on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is broadening their horizons. 

“Participating in WPI’s IQP as an AUA exchange student is enriching. This unique partnership allows us to tackle real-world problems at the intersection of technology and society, fostering new connections and cultural exchange. Representing Armenian culture and collaborating on impactful projects for Armenia’s welfare is a rewarding opportunity,” remarked Janesian. 

The AUA-WPI collaborative roots are actively sprouting, adding vibrant experiences to AUA students’ academic journey. 

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.