AESA President’s Message
Richard Ohanian – President
Dear Friends of the AESA,
2020 was a challenging year for all of humanity, especially for Armenians around the world. One of the main lessons learned in the past year is that Armenians must prioritize advancements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics if Armenia is to survive and thrive in the future as an independent and viable nation-state. To that end, Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America, AESA, is bound to become one of the main enablers of realizing such a vision for the Armenian trans-nation.
AESA’s mission is to enable and empower an Armenian STEM Community worldwide to reach its fullest potential and to facilitate progress through STEM education, collaboration, and humanitarian initiatives in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diasporas. We envision AESA to be the leading platform for enabling the Armenian STEM Community worldwide to network and address global challenges through innovative solutions and to foster a world where Armenian STEM professionals are empowered, enabled, and influential. We are building a future upon our values of scientific rigor and endeavor, innovation, teamwork and collaboration, mentorship, integrity, accountability and transparency as well as diversity in disciplines, age, and gender.
Our long-term goals include transforming AESA into a 21st-century global organization and becoming a role model for professional organizations in the Armenian nation-state, creating a strong community of Armenian STEM professionals, worldwide, implementing high-impact/high-value STEM-based projects and initiatives in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diasporas, attracting youth towards STEM, registering hundreds of new AESA members, and lastly, creating a strong AESA presence across all online platforms and media.
To make substantial progress towards our long-term goals in 2021, AESA leadership is focusing on organizational development and rebranding, engaging our members to strengthen existing AESAchapters across the United States and establishing new ones, registering AESA in Armenia as a foundation and collaborating with various STEM-based organizations, institutions, universities, and centers in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diasporas.
To that end, we are institutionalizing AESA by creating permanent programs such as the AESA STEMAcademy, AESA STEM Conference and Expo, AESA Leadership and Entrepreneurship Academy, and the AESA Advanced Research and Development Program. These initiatives will help us better utilize AESA’sresources by focusing them on programs that are aligned with our vision, mission, and long-term goals.
To guarantee our success, we are revamping AESA’s organizational hierarchy, bylaws, and constitution to further modernize our organization, accommodate all the necessary roles and integrate modern decision making, communication and financial procedures and processes to grow the organization, serve our members, and achieve our goals.
Here are a few examples of achieved milestones in the year 2020:
AESA formed a strategic alliance with Smartgate VC to establish HeroHouse Glendale. AESA will contribute to establishing Glendale Accelerator, which is destined to become a regional tech hub/center in Glendale. AESA HQ has relocated its offices and operations to HeroHouse Glendale as of January 2021 and we plan on organizing our post-covid activities in the new location.AESA membership grew threefold during last year and we strive to continue that trend in 2021 as well. We are also actively promoting the registration of AESA branches in various universities, cities, and states. Talks are on the way to establish STEM-based associations in Canada, Australia, Europe and the Middle East as well.
2020 saw exponential growth in AESA’s presence on social media and today thousands are followingAESA activities across various social media platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. We are also revamping our website to enable our members to better communicate and collaborate with each other as well.
In 2021, we plan on doing even more. We are establishing the AESA Advanced R&D Program to foster and enable STEM-based projects in Armenia and Artsakh. Through this program, we will analyze, prioritize, and fund STEM opportunities in Armenia and Artsakh and initiate high-impact and high-value STEM projects in our homeland.
AESA STEM Conference and Expo shall return during the second half of the year, either in virtual or in-person format. Conference and Expo organizing and steering committees are being formed to plan these hallmark events that bring together STEM researchers, faculties, students and professionals to share their work and knowledge.
AESA will grow its donor base to establish a continuous flow of funds to our programs and Endowment Fund. Moreover, we are applying for various grants and loans to fund our activities. When health restrictions are lifted, we will organize our annual gala to celebrate our success and honor Armenian STEM professionals with the prestigious Victor Hambartsumian award. We also award scholarships to selected Armenian graduate students in STEM fields during our gala.
Our nation needs research centers, think-tanks, startup accelerators and incubators. AESA will mobilize its resources in establishing such centers in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diasporas. To that end, we plan on performing strategic planning towards the end of 2021 to sharpen our strategic and technical decision-making processes, revisit our long-term goals, better align our resources, and define key performance indicators to measure our progress.
With all our resources, Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America is committed to the advancements of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the Armenian trans-nation.
That is a promise we are set to deliver!
We as the AESA know that our community’s future depends entirely on the next generation of engineers and scientists. In 2015, the Young Professionals Committee was created to build a stronger connection to the youth and bridge the expertise of our organization with the ambitious minds of tomorrow’s professionals.
Learn more about the Young Professionals Committee here.
Dr. Hagop Panossian recalls that the nucleus for creating AESA started first as a dream during his early years in college. He wished for a worldwide Armenian scientific organization with the objective of creating venues for all engineers, scientists and industrialists of Armenian descent so that they might network, interact and help one another. The organization would include all Armenians under its wings, those from Armenia and the rest of the world.
During the late seventies, Dr. Panossian met with his friend, Dr. Stepan Simonian, in UCLA. They discussed the idea of a worldwide Armenian scientific organization to which Simonian expressed his great excitement. Panossian also presented the concept to the late Professor George Adomian who was a well-known mathematician and professor at the University of Georgia, in Atlanta. Panossian was further encouraged by the Professor’s enthusiasm. Upon this, Dr. Panossian and his wife Ani compiled a list of engineers and scientists from all around the world. They sent letters expressing the intent of forming an all Armenian engineering and scientific organization and received numerous positive responses but, of course, not without some negative ones as well.
During one of Professor Adomian’s visits to Los Angeles, Panossian with the help of Stepan Simonian and Misak Apelian contacted nearly 40 Armenian engineers and scientists and organized the first and official founding meeting on June 30, 1983. The founding meeting was held in the Castaways restaurant in Burbank and was attended by 23 people, they are:
Hagop Panossian, Stepan Simonian, Misak Apelian, Khachig Demirjian, Raffi Ohanian, Hrair Jabaghchourian, Varoujan Demirjian, Emil Maghakian, Robert Hartounian, Zaven Guiragossian, Asadour Hadjian, Zohrab Bedrossian, Abraham Bouyadjian, Varoujan Bedoyan, Hagop Bedikian, Alex Grigorian, Harutiun Surmenian, Ara Chutjian, Souren Bouickians, George Adomian, Ed Boyajian, George Mutafian and Vanagan Tatevosian.
The actual name “Armenian Engineers & Scientists of America” was coined at a later time during one of the succeeding meetings of the organization.
Later, in 1984, Panossian appointed an organizing committee consisting of Asadour Hadjian, Dr. Alex Grigorian, Misak Apelian, Dr. Stepan Simonian and Dr. Panossian himself. The organizing committee was tasked to develop the bylaws, obtain an official nonprofit status and organize the operating structure of AESA overall. Dr. Ara Chutjian, Harutiun Surmenian and Hagop Bedikian later joined the committee. The committee used the bylaws of the American Physical Society as a template, made some modifications to them and established a set of bylaws for AESA.