Armenian mathematics
Education

Armenian mathematics

“Armath” engineering club and laboratories designed for school children of grades 5-12 was launched in 2014. In 5 to6 years they are likely to become mandatory for all school children that will teach programming, robotics and 3D-modeling.

Text : Ani Smbati

 


The heartland of Soviet innovation

The prototype of this initiative, “The Armenian Robotics Development and Support Program” (Armrobotics) was implemented by the Union of Information Technologies Enterprises (UITE) in 2008. According to UITE Executive Director Karen Vardanyan, since the early 1950s, Armenia has been a leader thanks to its engineering mind of the Soviet Era. “It was then planned to open 45-47 robotics industrial automation manufacturing centres by 2000. After the collapse of USSR it was important to restore the image of Armenia as an engineering country and to preserve this tradition. This is why we started Armrobotics, and in 2014 the preliminary engineering education introduction program in the communities and public education system of the country was implemented,” explains UITE Executive Director.

Karen Vardanyan affirms that through this project, UITE aims to promote technological education in all schools of Armenian communities, encouraging an early interest in modern state of the art technology, to assist the development of an engineering mindset from the early ages and to prepare competent students. “The engineering laboratories investment program in Armenia’s educational system will give Armenia a major competitive edge on the international market,” he says, “the project enables practical support for the integration of qualified IT-specialists into the Armenian and world markets, the exchange of the experience between them and the attraction of large-scale investments into the IT-industry.”


2019 goals

During the project implementation, for the acquisition of the equipment and software for “Armath” (from words “Armenian” and “mathematics”) engineering laboratories, the priority is given to the local producers of high-quality 3D printers, mini-computers, robotics kits and other devices produced. “So far 200 “Armath” engineering club-laboratories have been opened throughout Armenia. By 2019, we’re planning to open labs in all 1200 Armenian schools so that every interested student will have the chance to attend the lab and learn the ABCs of engineering and robotics. We must accomplish the goal of becoming the world’s only country with engineering laboratories in all schools by 2019 which is an unprecendented phenomenon in international practice. Engineering education must be at the highest level in our country’s general education system,” says Karen Vardanyan.
2019 is a notable date as the World Congress of Information Technology (WCIT) will be held in Armenia under the initiative of the UITE and with the support of the Armenian Government. “We should consider the fact that about 2,000 world leaders in IT are participating. And besides other strategic questions the keynoters will discuss, Armenia should present its own products that make it different from many other countries. We should encourage the world’s interest in Armenia’s experience,” says Karen Vardanyan, noting that after the largest companies get acquainted with Armenia and want to cooperate, it will result in rapid economic growth.

“Armath” in the army
Regarding the military meaning of the “Armath” project, the UITE Executive Director says that the most significant result of lab the program in 10 years will be the fact that Armenia will have no problem building its own military economy. “Along with the contests at Armrobotics, such as line follower robots, line follower and object sorting robots, Minesweeper robots and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle contests, the “Armath” engineering labs give the opportunity to become a highly demanded specialist in the army and thus being useful from the very first day of serving. That’s why we consider it a national project, equally important for the education, economy, army and society in general,” he says.


Camps and Schools

Besides “Armath” engineering labs and Armrobotics contests, UITE organizes Technological Summer Camps in collaboration with World Vision Armenia and Ucom. The Technology Camps are attended by children of socially vulnerable regional communities from World Vision Armenia as well as students of “Armath” engineering labs from the other regions. The children manage to acquire some basic knowledge of robotics, create robots themselves and program them with the help of the “Fox” computer program. “The young engineers of the Technology Camp take active part in cognitive trips throughout Armenia, as well as swimming, football and volleyball competitions,” says Karen Vardanyan, “thus they get the chance of training both their minds and bodies.”
Since 2015, UITE has implemented the “One Company – One School” project – an educational initiative that in a short period of time has managed to create a platform for dialogue between the 26 IT companies and 70 public schools. “One Company – One School” project provides an opportunity for children from the capital and the regions to raise awareness of the IT field and learn about new perspectives and for IT companies to raise the potential of employees. The project aims to bring each school under the patronage of an IT company, which by providing regular meetings with pupils, lectures on diverse topics, sharing their success stories and IT global trends, organizing orientation visits to their offices and other activities will help to broaden children’s horizons, welcome them into the world of IT and assist in their professional orientation. After 1200 “Armath” engineering labs are operational, the second phase of the project will start: the creation of incubators to provide a workspace environment for the alumni.