AUA-WPI Student Presentations
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AUA-WPI Study Abroad Program Celebrates Student-Led Initiatives in Armenia

3 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia April 29 marked a milestone as eight American University of Armenia (AUA) and fifteen Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) students delivered final project presentations reflecting on the collaborative efforts undertaken during their journey in the study abroad program, within the framework of the established fifth year of partnership between AUA and WPI. 

“The AUA-WPI partnership underscores one of the fundamental aspects of an undergraduate education, engaging students to collaboratively address challenging, real, relevant issues and problems in our communities,” stated Dr. Sharistan Melkonian, dean of General Education at AUA. “Students from across the world worked together and listened to and learned from one another. As such, they were able to identify innovative solutions to community-based problems.”

The event was held in a hybrid format, welcoming attendees from Armenia while also providing an opportunity for remote participation from abroad. The attendees gained insights into projects’ objectives, executed actions, and proposed outcomes. Founder and co-director of the WPI Armenia Project Center, one of the initiators of the AUA-WPI partnership, ands WPI Adjunct Professor Michael Aghajanian, who joined the presentations online, noted: “The benefits of the AUA/WPI collaboration to our students and sponsors was very evident in this year’s project results. I am excited to see all we can accomplish as we expand this strategic relationship going forward.”

Each of the six projects was guided by sponsors tackling and providing solutions to community-based issues in various sectors in Armenia. These included a) a project with WPI Armenia Project Center, aimed at recommending ways to enhance the already existing relationships between AUA and WPI; b) two projects with the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment: the first analyzed and mapped locations of methane hotspots in Armenia for the transition to sustainable energy, and the second monitored landfill fires by leveraging industry-standard technologies such as ArcGIS; c) a project with the Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP) that developed and implemented recommendations to maximize the utilization of AECP’s Diabetes Online Training Platform among the target audience; d) a project that automated a rainwater collection storage and distribution system for the Armenian Tree Project (ATP) Karin Nursery in Ashtarak region through ATP; e) a project with the Orran NGO that optimized Orran’s existing workshops and overall marketing efforts. Orran NGO Founder Armine Hovhannisian reflected on the initiative: “The relationship that AUA, WPI, and Orran have developed is a stark example of a successful educational endeavor. The students who volunteered at Orran not only produced helpful fundraising materials for Orran, but also served as role models and ‘big brothers and sisters’ for the children. In turn, I hope that the AUA and WPI students have experienced personal growth by developing new skills, attitudes, and understanding toward those who are vulnerable. It is truly a project that is a win-win situation for all involved.”

From the initial stages of the project preparations at WPI at the beginning of January to the subsequent field work in Armenia, the WPI students’ instructor, former Peterson Family Dean of Arts and Sciences, and Professor Dr. Karen Kashmanian Oates; AUA adjunct lecturer and faculty advisor Norayr Ben Ohanian; and Assistant Professor in the AUA Zaven P. and Sonia Akian College of Science and Engineering Dr. Hrachya Kocharyan provided support to students in the implementation of the project studies.

The students reflected on the study abroad program as a transformative academic and personal development journey, specifically highlighting the vital role of the Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP). They emphasized the enriching experience of collaborating with peers from diverse backgrounds to foster their problem-solving and teamwork skills. “This journey, set within WPI’s dynamic and supportive community, transformed my perspective on education, highlighting the significance of an environment that cultivates intellectual rigor and personal development,” said Hakob Janesian (BSDS ’24) shared. 

Applications for the Spring 2025 AUA-WPI exchange program are now open. For more questions, email [email protected].  

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 and graduate degree and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.