Brief History of AESA
The Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America, Inc. (AESA) was founded in 1983 in Glendale, California. It is a non-partisan and non-sectarian philanthropic organization focused primarily on addressing the professional, technical and scientific needs of fellow Armenians throughout the world. In 1986, AESA was incorporated in the State of California and was recognized by the US Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit tax exempt institution holding a 501c3 status.
It Started With a Dream
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:
1 Hagop Panossian Founder/Organizer
2 Stepan Simonian Co-Founder/Organizer
3 Misak Apelian Co-Founder/Organizer
4 Khachig Demirjian
5 Raffi Ohanian
6 Hrair Jabaghchourian
7 Varoujan Demirjian
8 Emil Maghakian
9 Robert Hartounian
10 Zaven Guiragossian
11 Asadour Hadjian
12 Zohrab Bedrossian
13 Abraham Bouyadjian
14 Varoujan Bedoyan
15 Hagop Bedikian
16 Alex Grigorian
17 Harutiun Surmenian
18 Ara Chutjian
19 Souren Bouickians
20 George Adomian
21 Ed Boyajian
22 George Mutafian
23 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.
Panossian’s dream became a reality. The bylaws were adopted, nonprofit status received, AESA became a formal organization, and the time was ripe to hold the first election. The first election, however, was more like a consensus amongst those who were present at the time. The following was the outcome of this election in 1985:
Asadour Hadjian – first President of AESA
Alex Grigorian – Vice President
Hagop Panossian – Vice President Elect
Misak Apelian – Treasurer
Hagop Bedikian – Secretary
Stepan Simonian – Council Member
Hovsep Dermenjian – Council Member
Zaven Guiragossian – Council Member
Harutiun Surmenian – Committee Chair
George Dingillian – Committee Chair
During the first official AESA Council meeting, Panossian proposed using the ancient Symbol of Eternal Life "Haverjoutian Nshan" as a logo for AESA. The logo was adopted and used in the first AESA Newsletter, which was published in the Spring of 1985. In the mean time, to get more engineers and scientists involved with the organization, immediately after the founding meeting of AESA, Panossian began to organize monthly lectures on various topics related to engineering and sciences. Engineers and scientists from the Los Angeles area were invited to speak at the AESA monthly lecture series. Out-of-State scientists were invited to talk as well. Panossian searched numerous international and local conference programs and tried to find Armenian engineers/scientists to invite them to give presentations at the AESA lecture forum. Lecture dates were coordinated to coincide with their visits, conference attendance or business trips to the LA area. The AGBU center in Hollywood, Larchmont Blvd facility, was made available for AESA Council meetings and monthly lecture series. Months went by where meetings were attended by no more than 5-10 people with very little progress being made.
In the fall of 1987, during the first year of his presidency, Panossian was accepted as a Fulbright Exchange Scientist to teach for one semester in the former Soviet Union. He spent three months in Soviet Armenia lecturing on Control Systems in Yerevan Polytechnic Institute and Yerevan State University. While there, he met with numerous engineers and scientists. Among them was the world-renowned scientist Dr. Victor Hambartsumyan who was the President of the Armenian Academy of Sciences (AAS) at the time. In their discussion, Panossian proposed the idea of organizing a worldwide congress for Armenian engineers and scientists and was highly encouraged by Hambartsumyan’s response. Upon his return to Los Angeles, Panossian passed this message to the AESA council and the concept of organizing a worldwide Armenian congress of engineers and scientists was adopted in principle. Hambartsumyan had actually promised to support the congress and have academicians and scientists from Armenia participate in the event. In the US, AESA discussed the idea with Dr. George Adomian and other friends with engineering and scientific backgrounds. The response they received was generally positive but again, not without negative comments as well.