By Harutiun Surmenian
The Armenian Educational Foundation (AEF) has enriched its remarkable 50-plus year history with a new and brilliant page.
The AEF Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to State Engineering University of Armenia (SEUA) President–Member of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences–Prof. Yuri Sarkissyan. The banquet was held at the Glendale Hilton with approximately 400 members of the Armenian community and local academic circles present.
For the first time–an Educator and Scientist from Armenia was honored during his lifetime in the Diaspora; credit for this noble initiative goes to the AEF.
Prof. Yuri Sarkissyan is an internationally recognized figure in the fields of the Theory of Machines and Mechanisms (ToMM)–Robotics–a "Procter & Gamble" Prize winner–member of the ToMM International Federation Executive Committee–Armenian and International Engineering Academies–and an honorary Citizen of the State of Nebraska. As an Educator and Administrator–he has demonstrated vision and courage to reorganize the entire academic system of SEUA–elevating it to international standards.
The evening’s program was conducted by Dr. Rubina Peroomian–Mistress of Ceremonies. It began with her opening remarks and a prayer from Fr. Vasken Atmajian.
Congratulatory messages were noted from Vahik Petrossian (AEF)–Valery Mkrtumian–General Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles–Professors Mihran Agbabian (USC and President Emeritus of American University of Armenia)–Van Garner (CalPoly Pomona–Dean of the College of Extended University)–Richard Hovannisian (UCLA–holder of the AEF Modern Armenian History Chair) and Mr. Harutiun Surmenian (SEUA–formerly Yerevan Polytechnic Institute–YPI Alumni Association).
Plaques recognizing the Honoree’s valuable contributions to science and education were presented by YPI Alumni and the Armenian Educational Foundation. A personal gift–a desktop computer was presented to Prof. Sarkissyan by Dr. Garo Agopian. YPI Alumnus and UC Irvine Professor Harut Barsamian was the keynote speaker of the event. Prof. Barsamian evaluated Yuri Sarkissyan’s achievemen’s in the sciences–academia and public sector. He particularly emphasized Prof. Sarkissyan’s fate as SEUA President during the harshest years following Armenia’s independence when simply keeping SEUA afloat was a struggle.
Today–SEUA is regaining its former fame step-by-step–both in the Homeland and abroad. Presently–SEUA is partnering with more than 40 well-known universities from 15 countries–the best evidence that SEUA’s scientific and academic potentials are recognized and appreciated by international circles.
Prof. Sarkissyan thanked the organizers and the attendees for the memorable evening–sharing the honor with his colleagues in Armenia. His speech focused on the future of Armenia as a technologically advanced society. He expressed confidence that just by restoring its industrial base–Armenia can revive its economy. He pointed to the huge army of talented young Armenia’s who will make this difference. Because of the present economic situation in Armenia–these young talents should be nurtured by the entire nation–by all those who envision and champion a bright and prosperous future for Armenia. Prof. Sarkissyan’s message to all that evening was that by extending a hand to the Engineering University means cultivating new generations of Armenian engineers and scientists–the future pillars of a technologically advanced Armenia.
A surprising finale to the evening was Daron-Dourouperan Compatriotic Union’s gift to its renowned compatriot–the Union’s Golden Medallion. The Medallion was presented by Prof. Edward Mkrditchian–the Union’s President. It was an emotional scene to see two descendants of Sassoun embrace.
The evening’s ceremonies ended with Primate Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian’s prayer. The event’s entertainment was provided by a string quartet (Mr. Saro Mangasarian–Director)–popular singer Alla Levonian and the Armenian folk instrumen’s ensemble (Mr. Rouben Harutiunian–Director).
Great appreciation for the success of this event goes to host couples Shahen & Aida Nazaryan–Vahe & Armine Hacopian–Vahe & Aida Yeghiazarian– and most of all–to the Organizing Committee–co-chaired by Mrs. Mina Shirvanian and Mr. Hacop Baghdassarian.