WE ARE AESA
The Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America, Inc. (AESA) 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.
2019 Board Members: From left to right, front row: Linda Megerdichian, Richard Ohanian, Dr. Ara Chutjian, Asadour Tarakchian, John E. Shirajian. Mid row: Talin Zadoian, Alex Natanian, Noel Drorian, Shaunte Baboomian. Back row: Daniel Minassian, Arin Abed, Aram Ter-Martirosyan, (absent: Lucine Malekian, Aram Setian, Angineh Shahnazarian)
- Attend lectures on cutting-edge science and technology.
- Join a network of talented professionals from a wide range of disciplines.
- Build a résumé and a portfolio with professionals.
- Be a role model to future generations.
AESA 2019 Executive Council
Dear AESA Members,
We would like to introduce you to our 2019 AESA Executive Board. These individuals will lead our organization to new and better heights. With their vast background and expertise, we believe we are in capable hands.
Dr. Ara Chutjian – President
Dr. Ara Chutjian recently retired from the Caltech/Jet Propulsion Laboratory after 48 years as a Research Physicist and Group Supervisor, and as Principal Investigator on two flight instruments sent to the International Space Station. He has developed new research areas in electron-ion scattering; ultralow energy electron attachment; generation of fast, neutral atomic beams; trace-species detection (including nerve agents and explosives); and development of compact gas-chromatograph/mass spectrometers for space flight. He has over 180 publications in the refereed literature and given over 230 presentations at scientific proceedings. He is the recipient of two NASA gold medals and the AESA Hambartsumyan gold medal for his research. He received his B.S. from Brown University and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Dr. Ara Chutjian’s LinkedIn
Richard Ohanian – Vice President
Richard Ohanian holds a B.S. in Applied Physics from Azad University in Tehran, Iran, and a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He has more than 15 years of experience in the industry as an RFIC Designer (Axiom Microdevices), RF/Microwave and Robotics Engineer (Jet Propulsion Lab) and Principal Engineer and Electronics Team Lead (GM/Cruise). He has also been with Glendale Community College as an adjunct faculty of Robotics and Electronics and has helped establish GCC’s Robotics Academy. Richard won various NASA group achievement awards and has two U.S. patents. His publications include a physics book for high school students, published in Iran. He has founded numerous organizations such as ArmEngine (2004) and Ohaniom Enterprises (2015). He has been active in various capacities with community organizations both in Iran and the U.S. Richard is currently serving as the Vice President of AESA and board member at ARPA Institute.
Richard Ohanian’s LinkedIn
Linda Megerdichian – Secretary
Linda Megerdichian holds a B.S. degree from Azad University and an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from California State University, Northridge. Currently, she is a Digital Hardware Design Engineer, designing digital logic for audio/video processing devices. In her free time, she tutors at the Almost School, assisting students with advanced math and GRE preparation. She is passionate about working with the youth and hopes to encourage students to choose careers in STEM. Linda was an active member of the Ararat Cultural Center in Iran, and continues to be an active member of the Armenian community in Los Angeles. She is a committee member of the AESA Leadership and Entrepreneurship Academy, Robotics and YPro “Young Professionals.
Linda Megerdichian’s LinkedIn
Asadour Tarakchian – Treasurer
Asadour Tarakchian wears multiple hats and has worked in many industries: wholesale, education, healthcare, biotechnology, non-profits and business. With a B.S. in Biology and an M.B.A. from UC Irvine, he is as versatile as the work he does and the positions he’s held. Currently, he works as a business development professional, education consultant and project manager. He wishes to bring individuals together and provide professional development opportunities to AESA members. He is passionate about developing new programs and bringing them to fruition.
Asadour Tarakchian’s LinkedIn
John E. Shirajian – Past President
John-Emmanuel Shirajian has been a member of AESA for twenty years, and several years as a board member. He served as the president of AESA in 2018. John Shirajian and Past President Levon Toros founded the Science Olympiad together. He was awarded Science Teacher of the Year for the State of California in 2010 and awarded Teacher of the Year twice by the American Nuclear Society. Currently, he is the chairman of the Science and Math Department at Ribét Academy where he teaches Advanced Placement Physics and Chemistry. He authored five books about military technology and modern warfare. He has also designed instructional lab equipment. John Shirajian’s students have won more than 250 science fairs at the county, state, and corporate level.
AESA President’s Message
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
It has become clear in this decade that AESA should – for the Republic of Armenia (ROA) and the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh (RNK) – expand its role in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education; help minimize the environmental impact of power generation, mining and deforestation; assist in ensuring safe and adequate water supplies and sanitation networks; provide designs for disaster-resistant buildings and roadways using modern construction standards; and increase people’s consciousness to the blunting effects of corruption on national vitality.
As such, AESA will augment its annual Science Olympiad for students grades 6-12 in biology, chemistry, physics, robotics, and artificial intelligence. AESA can deliver experimental laboratory kits – in, for example, biology, chemistry, light optics, electricity & magnetism, and math – to schoolrooms in rural regions of the ROA and RNK. Vendors for these kits include the American Physical Society, Home Science Tools, Quality Science Labs, EUDAX, and NCERT. A consortium of rural schools can be interconnected via Skype and videoconferencing. This work will be coordinated with the Children of Armenia (COA), a non-governmental organization that uses community-led approaches to improve rural conditions and reduce poverty; and connects some of the world’s bypassed children with the global economy so that they can gain the knowledge and skills needed to become future inventors. AESA will also collaborate with Engineer Armenia in their program to offer seminars in STEM at the American University of Armenia and the TUMO Centers for Creative Technologies.
In terms of revitalization and replanning, the ROA cities of (especially) Gyumri and Spitak still suffer from the effects of the magnitude 6.8 earthquake of 1988. Absent basic upgrades in building standards, the ROA and NKR will remain prone to future destructive events. AESA will explore, in a holistic way, disaster-resilient construction, using California’s building standards where applicable; introduce information and communications technology (ICT) such as high-speed internet, custom mobile and web applications, Skype, and phone service in new and remodeled human settlements; and consider the environmental impact of cities, climate-change mitigation, conversion of buildings to solar energy, and use of sustainable transport.
In the ROA, AESAs strengths will be coordinated with the Ministry of Nature Protection and environmental groups familiar with the (e.g.) Amulsar, Kajaran, Sotke, and Teghut mines where toxic tailings and runoffs are contaminating surrounding farmland and forest. A parallel mining neglect almost certainly exists in the RNK. Closer to home, AESA scientists and health experts will stay apprised of refurbishment proposals for the Glendale, CA methane-fired Grayson Power Plant, and the ongoing flaring of CH4 at its Scholl Canyon Landfill. What happens in Glendale doesn’t stay in Glendale: the emissions of methane and CO2 from flaring create persistent, global problems for the Earth’s climate: glaciers are melting and releasing trapped CO2; global temperatures and sea levels are rising. Clearly, a full cost-benefit analysis of the Grayson Project must be undertaken. AESA’s efforts will be coordinated with the local STOP GRAYSON! movement.
To inform the public and maintain transparency, AESA will expand its Speakers Program to include seminars on the international posture of the ROA and NKR vis-a-vis the European Union, United States, Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and China (the Silk and Belt Roads). In addition, AESA will invite speakers to discuss the origins, dynamics, and effects of corruption – in particular the role of the “Oligarch Business Model.” AESA will also participate in local events, such as the 4th Annual Maker Faire at Glendale City College sponsored by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (4/27/19). Where appropriate, AESA will coordinate its activities with the Consul General of Armenia in Los Angeles, and with representatives of the NKR and the United Nations.
There is a strong resonance between the work described above, and the mission of the United Nations Habitat-III Program. UN Habitat-III sets global standards of achievement for sustainable urban development, rethinking the way one builds, manages, and lives in cities. It spurs cooperation with committed partners, relevant stakeholders, and urban actors – in government as well as the private sector – to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. UN-Habitat has gained a unique and universally-acknowledged expertise in all things urban. In the course of the above efforts AESA will confer with the UN, and collaborate with partners in Habitat-III to learn of comparable efforts in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In the ROA, completing AESAs refurbishment of the preschool in Aratashen Village can be an excellent starting project. This can be followed with plans for the City of Gyumri to improve its earthquake standards, reconfigure its urban side streets, de-privatize vehicles, and use ICT for everything from shopping to education.
Ara Chutjian, PhD,
AESA President 2019
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.