- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 April 11, 2003 

Back to the Future: University continues Armenian tradition of engineering specialists

Rector Sargsyan is encouraged by new works at SEUA.The State Engineering University of Armenia (SEUA) celebrates its 70th anniversary this year with programs aimed at revitalizing the institution and Armenia's reputation in the science.

During Soviet times, Armenia was known as the USSR's "engineer shop", producing specialists for employment throughout the Union. But with the demise of Communism came hard times for engineers, as their skills were no longer needed in the decline of industry.

But last year some 3,000 under graduate and post graduate students entered SEUA, including about 400 foreign students (from Syria, Iran, Iraq and India). In total, about 10,000 students study there and about 1,000 graduate each year. One out of 12 students continue their studies toward a doctoral degree.

Educators see the numbers as a good trend toward restoring industrial Armenia, but also for preparing specialists for an outside market. Although the numbers of students is on the rise, finding job placement is still a significant challenge.

"Today we should prepare our graduates for a global market," says SEUA rector Yuri Sargsyan, adding that the job market in Armenia is still not promising. "From now on we should know where our graduates are, whether they are demanded in labor market, and whether they are prepared or not."

In its seven decades the university - formerly known as the Polytechnic Institute -- has turned out more than 100,000 graduates, including well-known scientists, businessmen and inventors.

Today the SEUA cooperates with educational institutions in the United States and a number of European countries, as well as with international organizations.

LEDA is building a $3 million education center.Two years ago SEUA started a collaboration with LEDA Systems Inc., a world leader in Information Technology development. LEDA established the Microelectronics Circuits and Systems Educational Center at SEUA for third and fourth year students who study microelectronics and who, upon graduation, are offered placement with the company.

"LEDA Systems hasn't come to Armenia to solve social or educational problems," says head of the Armenian branch of the company, Hovik Musayelyan Ph.D. "However, investments made by LEDA are the largest ones that have ever been made in independent Armenia's educational system."

According to him the company has invested $25 million in this field, which includes a $3 million construction plan for an educational and business center.

"At present there is unemployment in the USA, well-known companies are being closed, lay offs are taking place. In such conditions, when LEDA Systems invests in Armenia based on American capital, this is an excellent evaluation of this country," says Musayelyan.

The University has also opened a Student Career Service Center, with branches also in Gyumri, Kapan and Vanadzor. Sargsyan says the center helps to restore the link between graduates and potential employers which had been lost over the past 10 years.

SEUA turns out 1,000 graduates a year.The rector says the Career Service Center helps students apply their education to specific needs of the engineering field, as well as helping prepare resumes and other materials and training in management skills.

Lund's Swedish University and French ESIM Engineering Higher School also participate in implementation of the Service Center projects. Researcher and project coordinator of the Lund's University Eva Ericsson thinks that such a project is very important for Armenia.

"I took part in such a project in Romania and studying the situation among students - information, communication to teachers, lack of choice opportunities - I made sure that in case of implementing such a project it will surely improve a student's state," she says.

"At the same time I believe that students are our future, so the main goal is to improve the economic state of the country in order to stop brain drain and make them return through exchange programs."


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  Photo of the week
  Drawing Criticism
Click on the photo above to enlarge

Drawing Criticism

An exhibition of cartoons has been on display at Moscow Cinema since April 1. It is the first such exhibit in 17 years and not everybody is pleased about whose work was included. Among the aggrieved was this group of young cartoonists whose cartoons were not selected. They rallied outside the cinema Monday, wearing their work.



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