BY JOSEPH DAGDIGIAN
Engineering City, a high-tech incubator, was established in 2018 as a public-private partnership by Armenia’s Engineering Association – an association comprised of the World Bank, the Government of Armenia, and private companies. It is a high-tech engineering complex situated on seven acres of land at 21/1 Bagrevand St. in Yerevan’s Nor Nork district. Its purpose is to facilitate the development of a high-tech industrial base in Armenia, develop products for both domestic and export markets, and to foster high-tech manufacturing. Facilities include engineering offices, laboratories, a library, a modern cafeteria, shared manufacturing and test facilities, lecture halls, and classrooms. Qualified companies, both domestic and foreign, either startups or existing companies, can qualify for office and lab space.
Resident companies are focused on automotive electronics, biomedical equipment, robotics, semiconductors, analog and digital electronics, high-frequency microwaves, instrumentation, aerospace systems, and science education products. Engineering City’s goal is to provide an infrastructure allowing companies to rapidly develop and manufacture high-quality, state of the art products for international markets. Companies I have visited expressed confidence, and in many cases have already demonstrated, their ability to meet these goals.
Engineering and manufacturing are essential to Armenia. It is estimated that between Engineering City, and a proposed Factory City, there is the potential to create over 10,000 jobs. As has recently become evident, Armenia’s economic well-being and security depend on utilizing its scientific, engineering, and manufacturing talent. During the Soviet era, Armenia was a high-tech engineering and manufacturing center. Armenia has the talent; it can become a high-tech center again.
YEAEprovides complex engineering solutions and contract manufacturing for customers. Major products include test systems which evaluate the performance of electronic control units for electric and autonomous vehicles. These systems evaluate the vehicle’s sensors, radars, antennas, cameras, battery management units, and charging systems. YEA’s test systems are exported to customers in the U.S., France, and Switzerland. YEAE also produces test equipment for high power semiconductors, data communication equipment, and high frequency antennas.
The company is ISO 9001 certified, assuring customers that it complies with international quality standards.
Ten years ago, Hagop Gevorgyan started VAN technologies as one of the first companies to locate at Engineering City. Utilizing products from National Instruments, a Texas based company with a strong presence at Engineering City, VAN technologies applies its expertise in mechanical, electrical, and software engineering to develop automation systems for international clients. They also market training kits allowing customers to familiarize themselves with various electronic and mechanical technologies.
Approximately 3 years ago, wanting to make a contribution to clean technology, Gevorgyan established EVAN technologies to produce electric vehicle chargers. Products range from home chargers to charging stations incorporating WIFI, allowing individual chargers to be remotely managed. The chargers automatically sense the appropriate charging method for each vehicle, and ascertain details about the vehicle’s battery. Gevorgyan indicated that exporting chargers to other countries is not a problem. EVAN is prepared to meet all applicable U.S. specifications and regulations if and when chargers are shipped to the U.S.
Dr. Vardan Alexanyan founded Project Integration in 2011, before Engineering City existed. He subsequently moved his company to Engineering City. With 15 employees (4 with PhDs) with expertise in analog and digital electronics, analog controllers, and radio physics, the company produces automatic testing systems. They also manufacture educational kits for schools and universities. Exports are to 15 countries in Europe, the CIS, the Middle East and China. Exports to the U.S. are small but they would like to expand in this market. Dr. Alexanyan, like others, indicated that exporting products from Armenia is not a problem.
Integrator company was founded 14 years ago. It produces educational and training systems for a number of engineering disciplines, including electromechanical devices such as various types of electric motors, generators, and machine control devices. Detailed educational manuals provide hands on experience and an opportunity to experiment with various types of equipment. Their products are used in over 60 universities around the world. Services include design of educational test equipment and consulting services.
ISB is a Canadian manufacturer of industrial safety equipment, with operations both in Canada and in Armenia. Products are designed to meet European safety standards and are certified at testing facilities in Germany.
Haikouhi, born in Armenia, lived in the U.S. and later in France where she was a clinical and forensic psychologist. In the aftermath of the Karabagh war, she moved to Armenia where her expertise was needed. Seeing the trauma caused by the loss of a lower limb, she applied her skills to help alleviate the psychological effects of such a loss. Most of her services were to wounded soldiers, many from rural areas where less care is available than in Yerevan. Prosthetic limbs helped, but there remained the stigma of a visible prosthetic. Haikouhi, with friends and colleagues, established Oqni (Armenian for “help”) to manufacture customized coverings for prosthetic lower limbs. This turned out to be a great comfort to Oqni’s clients. A bank of 3-D printers prints customized coverings which are then fitted to clients at no charge. When asked how this operation is funded, Haikouhi replied that funds were received from a go-fund-me appeal, with additional support from friends. Oqni, in cooperation with students from the TUMO center, and a bio engineering group at the University of Michigan, began developing a bionic leg which, when completed, will be the first to be made in Armenia. She said, “We didn’t know how to do this, but we learned.”
“Transcending Disabilities, Transcending Boundaries” are the bywords of Armbionics, founded by Doctors Marina Davtyan and Lucine Hovhannisyan. Armbionics provides arm prosthetics together with “physical and psychosocial assistance”. Training on the performance of everyday tasks, such as sports and playing musical instruments, is offered. Two types of prosthetic hands are made. Mechanical hands grasp and release objects by moving the elbow and wrist. Myoelectric hands operate by sensing electric signals from sensors on the muscles.
The mechanical engineering group comes from Yerevan, the villages of Garni and Hraztan, and from Lebanon. Some of the staff are mechanical engineering students at the on-site branch of the National Polytechnic University of Armenia (Polytechnic for short). I was shown an injection mold for complex plastic parts for one of companies at Engineering City. The mold, consisting of 120 precision machined parts, was produced in 3 months. The most critical parts are machined to a tolerance of five microns (+/- .0002 inches).
An on-site branch of the National Polytechnic University of Armenia offers 4-year Bachelor of Science degrees to graduates, combining traditional engineering courses with industry related projects. Focus is on Instrumentation and Measurement, Radio Devices and Systems, and Industrial Systems and Engineering. “After hour” evening courses are also offered. A placement office helps graduates find jobs after graduation. Professors from the Polytechnic campus in central Yerevan, as well as PhD candidates, advanced students, and staff from Engineering City companies teach courses.
Dr. Andranik Aghajanyan, who heads Education at Engineering City, indicated that much of the staff serves on a volunteer basis. Funding is needed for more full-time instructors and laboratory equipment. Some student scholarships are available but others must find the means to pay for their tuition. A Master’s program is being planned with specialties in aerospace, electric vehicles, and self-driving vehicles. Help from industry specialists as well as professional academic advisors, and trainers would be beneficial. “This can’t be done with traditional educational methods”, stated Aghajanyan.
How can the Diaspora help? If it makes financial and business sense, consider utilizing some of the products or services offered at Engineering City, or establish a presence there for your company. Visiting lecturers are welcome. Contributions to student scholarships will certainly help as would donations of equipment and financial support. For information and contacts please visit the Engineering City website,
A goal is to establish a Factory City at Engineering City where the designs of sophisticated products will seamlessly and rapidly transition to high-quality manufacturing for the export market.