By Joseph Dagdigian, Harvard, MA, 2 February 2023
Engineering City is a high-tech engineering complex situated on 3 hectares of land at 21/1 Bargevand 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. Engineering City was established in 2018 as a public-private partnership by the Engineering Association, composed of the World Bank, the Government of Armenia, and private companies. Facilities at Engineering City include engineering offices, laboratories, a library, a modern cafeteria, shared manufacturing and test facilities, a model shop, lecture halls, and classrooms. Qualified companies, both domestic and foreign, either startups or existing companies, can qualify for fixed size land plots for the construction of office and lab space.
Resident companies are focused on a number of areas: material science, automotive electronics, biomedical equipment, robotics, semiconductors, analog and digital electronics, high-frequency microwaves, measurement instrumentation, and aerospace systems. Also, science and education kits with instructional material are produced.
Engineering City’s goal is to foster companies that can develop and manufacture high-quality, state of the art products which can be exported to international markets. In the high-tech field time to market is critical. The companies I have visited expressed confidence in their ability to meet these goals. Many are already doing so but of course they would like to expand their markets. They have already demonstrated that they can rapidly design and develop complex, high-quality products.
Engineering and manufacturing are essential to Armenia. It is estimated that between Engineering City, and a proposed Manufacturing City, there is the potential to create over 10,000 manufacturing jobs. Besides additional engineering positions, this would include jobs in security, maintenance, marketing, legal affairs, finance, construction, janitorial, and cafeteria positions. Additional outside jobs would be created in response to economic development. Armenia was a Soviet high-tech and manufacturing center. Engineering City’s staff believes it can be so again. As should be evident from recent events, Armenia’s economic well-being and security depend on using its scientific, engineering, and manufacturing talent. Armenia has this talent.
As a retired engineer with experience in high-frequency microwave design and software development, I was quite impressed with both the motivation and the caliber of the engineers and staff as well as the facilities. The engineering area was quite open, establishing a collaborative environment. The manufacturing area, the cafeteria, rest rooms, meeting rooms were modern and clean; equal to any other facilities I’ve seen in the U.S. During the past two years I have had the opportunity to visit Engineering City and some of the companies there.
YEA Engineering (YEAE): YEAE provides complex engineering solutions and contract manufacturing for customers. A major product is test equipment for electric vehicles. YEA’s test systems evaluate the performance of the electronic control units (ECUs) in electric and autonomous vehicles. These systems test the vehicle’s sensors, radars, antennas, cameras, battery management units, and charging systems. Validation testing verifies the design of the ECUs, determining if the design has met its goals. Production testing evaluates the ECUs coming off the assembly line to verify the ECU is fault free and ready to be installed in a vehicle. YEA’s test systems are exported to customers in the U.S., France, and Switzerland.
YEA director of Engineering Gurgen Maroyan. High power transistor test system
YEAE also produces test equipment for high power semiconductors, data communication equipment, and high frequency antennas. The company is ISO 9001 certified indicating that the company complies with an international standard of quality. More information is available at https://yeae.am .
VAN, EVAN Technologies: Ten years ago, Hagop Gevorgyan started VAN technologies as one of the first companies to locate at Engineering City. In alliance with National Instruments, a U.S. Texas based company with a strong presence at Engineering City, VAN technologies develops automation systems for international clients with expertise in mechanical, electrical, and software engineering. Additionally, they offer 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 with multiple chargers 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.
When asked where EVAN acquires the components going into the chargers, Gevorgyan indicated that 80% of the components are sourced in Armenia. This figure will increase as they fabricate more of the required components themselves. He also 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. Please visit https://e-evan.com/ for additional information.
EVAN founder Hagop Gevorgyan with vehicle chargers
Project Integration: Dr. Vardan Alexanyan founded Project Integration in 2011, before Engineering City existed. Subsequently he moved his company to Engineering City. There are 15 employees, 4 with PhDs. His expertise is electrical engineering and technical documentation. The company provides automatic testing systems. Additionally, they manufacture educational electronic kits for schools and universities together with instructional material. They have expertise in analog and digital electronics, analog controllers, and radio physics. When possible, they acquire necessary components for their products from Armenia. Exports are to approximately 15 countries in Europe, the CIS, and the Middle East as well as China. Exports to the U.S. are small but they would like to expand in the U.S. market. Dr. Alexanyan reiterated that exporting from Armenia is not a problem. He can be contacted at https://am.linkedin.com/in/vardan-aleksanyan-6b92207 .
Dr. Vardan Aleksanyan, founder and president of Project Integration
Integrator: 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 various machine control devices. Their products are integrated with National Instrument platforms. Detailed educational manuals provide hands on experience and an opportunity to experiment with various equipment. Their products are used in over 60 universities around the world. Services include design of educational test equipment and consulting services. Integrator’s web site is http://integrator.am, or they can be contacted via email at [email protected] .
Descriptions of educational laboratory equipment for home and schools may be examined at http://lab-store.org/en .
Sergo Harutunyan with someIntegrator products
ISB: 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. ISB’s web site is at https://isblite.com .
Oqni: 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, decided to establish 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 5 3-D printers print customized coverings which are then fitted to clients at no charge. When asked how this operation is funded, she replied that funds were received from a go-fund-me appeal, and that friends and donors support their effort. 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.” Oqni’s impressive web site is at https://www.oqni.org/
Haikouhi Ouroudjian, founder (with friends) of Oqni
Armbionics: “Transcending Disabilities, Transcending Boundaries.” These are the bywords of Ambionics, founded by Doctors Marina Davtyan and Lucine Hovhannisyan. Per their website, they provide arm prosthetics together with “physical and psychosocial assistance”. Training on the performance of everyday tasks is offered, including sports and playing musical instruments. Two types of prosthetic hands are offered. Mechanical hands grasp and release objects by moving the elbow and wrist. Myoelectric hands operate by sensing electric signals from sensors on the muscles. More details are at https://www.armbionics.am .
Myoelectronic prosthetic hand display at Ambionics
Mechanical Engineering/Manufacturing Services: The 7-8 people in the mechanical engineering group come 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. When asked to estimate the number of individual parts in the mold, my guess of 15-20 grossly missed the mark. The mold, consisting of 120 precision machined parts, was produced in 3 months. The most critical parts had to be machined to a tolerance of 5 microns (+/- .0002 inches).
Workshop: The workshop is a facility for the rapid fabrication of prototypes, or small “one of” items. Engineering City’s workshop, in addition to hand and machine tools, has a number of 3-D printers for use of Engineering City companies..
Education: The on-site branch of the National Polytechnic University of Armenia offers 4-year Bachelor of Science degrees to graduates. Courses combine 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. A number of 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 specific specialists as well as professional academic advisors, and trainers would be beneficial. “This can’t be done with traditional educational methods”, stated Aghajanyan..
Support for Engineering City: How can the Diaspora help? If it makes financial and business sense, consider utilizing some of the products or services offered at Engineering City. Visiting lecturers would be welcomed. Contributions to student scholarships will certainly help as would donations of equipment and financial support. For information and contacts please visit https://engineeringcity.am .
A goal is to establish a Factory City@Engneering City where the designs of sophisticated products will seamlessly and rapidly transition to high-quality manufacturing.