Armenia’s capital Yerevan is hosting the International Conference in Nonlinear Problems in Aviation and Aerospace (ICNPAA World Congress 2018).
Researchers from leading international institutes, Armenian scientists and representatives of the industry have gathered at American University of Armenia on July 3 to hear about mathematical problems in engineering, aerospace and science and modern scientific solutions. The conference is expected to end on July 6.
ICNPAA in Armenia: New opportunities for local scientists
ICNPAA has been brought to Armenia by Director for Intelligent Robotics Lab at University of Illinois, Professor Naira Hovakimyan, who is the Organizer and General Co-Chair of the conference.
Professor Hovakimyan has told Mediamax that she came up with the idea to invite the conference to Armenia after the April war of 2016, during which Azerbaijan used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) against Artsakh.
“I thought we should organize conferences that would facilitate cooperation between Armenian and foreign scientists and promote advanced research on UAVs,” she said.
Naira Hovakimyan believes that hosting scientific conferences in Armenia will give the visiting scientists an opportunity to get acquainted with Armenia and develop interest in various collaborations with local colleagues.
“We can show the world that we want to engage and take active participation in conferences. We should make it possible for scientists to spend sabbaticals in Armenia and do research in our innovative laboratories. We have to build a creative environment for visiting scientists,” she said.
Organizer and General Chair of ICNPAA, Professor Seenith Siva knows that many Armenians work in the quickly developing field of STEM, which is an important topic in the conference.
“This conference can lead to many instances of collaborations between Armenian and foreign scientists. We expect it to be particularly productive for researches in science and engineering. This will facilitate cooperation between scientists of different disciplines and industry. There are many scholarships that young Armenian scientists can win to become competitive abroad,” he said.
Head of Cooperative Autonomous SYstems (CASY) Lab at Israel Institute of Technology (Technion), ICNPAA keynote speaker, Professor Tal Shima has told Mediamax that similar conferences are a great opportunity for Armenian scientists to learn about the cutting edge science and exchange knowledge and experience with foreign colleagues.
According to Tal Shima, leading Israeli scientists, and Technion in particular, can offer Armenia their expertise in building UAVs.
“Our institute will be happy to welcome Armenian students and researches and work with them.
Some Armenian scientists are among the best in the world, and Armenia should invest in science, making universities and quality academic education more accessible to young people. You simply need these people and their resources.”
UAV production: importance of scientific base
Naira Hovakimyan commented on the significance of the development of this direction based on several circumstances: “During the Soviet times Armenia traditionally was known for its centers for space and aviation research. Certain aspects have been preserved. It is especially relevant now, when Armenia is in a relative ceasefire. It is essential that young people think deeply on how to perform research at the cutting edge, keeping up with the scientific achievements around the world.”
Naira Hovakimyan remarked that on the one hand Armenia is forming a new military industry, and on the other hand several small companies are involved in UAV development.
“The sure path to success involves experiments based on rigorous scientific methods. National Polytechnic of Armenia has a modern laboratory, which is comparable to the world’s leading laboratories in terms of its equipment and facilities. So the scientists and engineers should use similar labs to connect the science with practice.”
According to Naira Hovakimyan, as in all post-Soviet countries, science and industry were evolving in decoupled way, and this poses a problem even today. Producers of UAVs in Armenia don’t trust science, and think that it is better to rely on experiments, while scientists are more engaged in theory, ignoring the practical implementation aspect. In the meantime, the scientific developments in the world are tightly connected with industrial developments, and the feedback loop between the two is very mature.
“The distance from science to UAV flight equals to 0 second. We do everything through close cooperation, while the two are very divided in Armenia. When I talk to representatives of the newly formed companies, I feel that they are not quite aware of the latest developments in science, and thus they can’t value the role of science in practice. For instance, if you read my articles, you will not probably not believe that these theorems and proofs matter to some practitioners, while exactly those theorems and proofs enable those aggressive flights and ambitious experiments. People in Armenia have hard time understanding that mathematics essential to flight testing. Nonetheless, the reality is different, and Armenia needs to hold more and more conferences to fill that gap,” Naira Hovakimyan asserts.