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New High-Tech Innovation Centre for Engineering and Applied Science

In 2019, the European Union, in partnership with the Tumo Centre for Creative Technologies launched the EU TUMO Convergence Centre for Engineering and Applied Science Project. The Centre, a state-of-the-art STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ecosystem, will be an educational and collaboration platform, for young adults in Armenia.  In a recent conversation with the EU TUMO Convergence Centre for Engineering and Applied Sciences Director, Erebouni Torosyan states that this Center will allow for the new, vibrant Centre to foster high-tech innovation and state-of-the-art education throughout the country. Here is the result of our discussion:

– Ms. Torosyan, please help us to better understand what is the “EU TUMO Engineering and Applied Sciences Complex Project”?

– The EU TUMO Convergence Centre will be a mixed-use campus that brings together academia and industry, linking local students, researchers and technologists to each other. Here, students and young professions will gain leading-edge education in engineering and applied science in order to prepare them for the labour market and make them competitive at a global level. The Centre will further act as a platform for existing initiatives, including startups, incubators, accelerators, universities and industry. The Centre will feature TUMO Labs, 42 Yerevan Coding School, UFAR’s IT and Applied Maths Faculty, a shared hub, co-financing units, a conference centre and retail units. These components coming together under one roof will build productive linkages, increase opportunities and foster resource sharing and collaboration. EU TUMO Convergence Centre for Engineering and Applied Sciences will also become self-sustaining as an ecosystem.

– Who does this Center target or invite? And what are the fees related to this educational complex?

– TUMO Labs Projects will be geared towards university students, researchers and young professionals, whereas 42 Yerevan Coding School will be open to anyone over the age of 18, with no previous knowledge in the field. Both TUMO Labs Projects and 42 Yerevan are completely free of charge for its participants!

– What is the status related to the construction of the building and the programme preparation?

– The project’s educational components are in full swing. We established some great partnerships with local universities and launched our first TUMO Labs Project in December 2019 – we have not stopped since. We have had over 50 young professionals taking part in the projects so far, many from our local universities including state and private institutions.  The projects with the direct collaboration of corporations have explored technologies and topics from Digital Healthcare, Artificial Intelligence, Argri-Tech, IoT with many more in the works. We have also successfully launched registration of 42 Yerevan. We had over 3,000 people register for the program, with hundreds going on to complete check in, ready for the start of the next stage, known as the ‘Piscine’ in September and we can’t wait!

– When do you foresee the official opening of this Center?

– We are working closely with MVRDV – the architecture and design firm for this project, to not only create a building suitable for the programs it will hold, but one that will beautifully fit its surrounding area. With construction due to being in 2021 we expect the Centre to be open to all in 2023.

– What benefits or major changes will it bring to Armenia and its people?

– It will give young people a chance to see directly how developing their skills in engineering and applied science, along with working with industry can get them not just a job but a long term career within the Armenian tech sector, which as we know has the capability to drive a major part of the economy.  It is an opportunity on a larger scale to link industry, education, and their respective needs. University students and young professionals gain early exposure to the industry through hands-on collaborations. In turn, the industry receives direct input into the skills and topics the students are working on to ensure they are tailored to the needs of the growing market. The shared hub also acts as the heart of the Centre, a space where knowledge will be exchanged, ideas will be generated and incubated, academia and industry will connect to solve industry issues and R&D will flourish. In addition it will create a physical environment to bring all of this together. A vibrant neighbourhood, not only for members of the programmes and their networks, but the capacity to extend to a wider community.

– Considering the scope of the project, how important is the input by the European Union and what type of support have they offered to it?

– Not only did the EU provide the funding of the project, but their ongoing encouragement and expert support is what really allows us to grow. We are proud to be part of the European Union for Armenia project family.

– This project seems to be a truly international, with more European counterparts involved. Please tell us more about your diverse team.

– We are lucky to have such a vibrant and passionate team, each bringing with them immense experience and wealth of knowledge from multiple backgrounds. The team includes Senior Project Managers Emin Sinani, Bahareh Fatemi who are from Netherlands and the United Kingdom and Program Manager Edita Ghazaryan, Project Finance Controller Yevgenya Shamshyan, who are natives of Yerevan, and our Interns Marselin Aghajanian and Ruben Mirzoyan who are also a mix of repatriate and native of Yerevan. This has allowed us to really come together, share ideas, exchange best practices from different countries and industries and realise this very exciting project together.