Yervant Zorian: Turn each day into a journey with Armenian Virtual College “Learning Zone”

14:48, 11 April, 2020

YEREVAN, APRIL 11, ARMENPRESS. The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously transformed a number of sectors of daily activities, however, each challenge is also first of all an opportunity. ARMENPRESS had an exclusive interview with Dr. Yervant Zorian, Chief Architect and Fellow at Synopsys, President of Synopsys Armenia, the founder of the Armenian Virtual College about remote learning, personal development and the changed reality.

Dr. Zorian, how did you come up with such an interesting and useful idea of creating the AVC Learning Zone?

The “Learning Zone” is a new offering by AGBU Armenian Virtual College (AVC) designed to turn each day into a journey of learning, discovering and making friends, while staying home. The idea appeared naturally once the government of Armenia and other countries announced school closures and the shelter in place mode. We thought that it should be our responsibility to reuse our valuable resources in a new format to allow online education and collaboration that would keep people happy and busy while staying home.

Earlier in March, AGBU AVC was invited to participate in working group discussions initiated by the Armenian Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport. As an educational institution with over 10 years of experience in online education, AVC immediately took the action to redeploy AVC’s unique capabilities to meet the immediate needs of our Armenian communities during this global covid19 pandemic. So, we launched the AVC Learning Zone initiative on March 26, free for all participants.

With a primary goal of encouraging self-education during this crisis and allowing discoveries in a way that is actually exciting and fun, the Learning Zone offers daily themes covering interesting aspects of Armenian heritage and identity, which includes Armenian culture, language, history, religion, architecture, cuisine, and chess. These daily topics are mostly derived from AVC’s interactive eBooks, multimedia courses and virtual tours, and are made available in seven languages: Eastern and Western Armenian, English, French, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.  The Learning Zone also offers opportunities to collaborate among the participants, through interactive daily meetup sessions, forums, group projects, and other activities to create virtual social communication among participants worldwide. It’s noteworthy that the Learning Zone was publicly endorsed by the Armenian Minister of Education Arayik Harutyunyan and supported by the Diaspora communities and prominent people of Armenian descent around the globe.

Dr. Zorian, a few days ago the AVC Learning Zone hosted a masterclass with the Armenian Chess Champion of 2017 Hovhannes Gabuzyan. What made that event so special? What were the advantages of the online masterclass?

Indeed, as the meetup session for yesterday’s daily theme on chess, AVC Learning Zone in cooperation with the Armenian Chess Federation hosted an online masterclass with the Armenian Chess Champion of 2017 Grandmaster Hovhannes Gabuzyan, as the Chess is a key element of our Armenian heritage, therefore we decided to pay a special tribute to it.

What was special about the online event is that it allowed anyone interested in chess to join a free online class via Zoom with a professional chess player who could answer all the questions in real-time. It’s important to note that the masterclass was held in multiple instruction languages therefore it was available for a wide audience. We were pleased to see a great interest in chess among the AVC Learning Zone, especially the young generation. Given the high demand for chess classes, AVC plans to offer new online chess sessions with Armenian champions.  

Dr. Zorian, could you please tell us how to register and attend these sessions?

Registering at the AVC Learning Zone is very easy, you simply visit our website, choose your language and sign up, of course, free of charge. In case you need further instructions, see our video guides posted on our web site, social media pages, Facebook, YouTube, etc., or just contact our IT help.

AVC Learning Zone has been functioning for two weeks already. How would you evaluate its progress?

Ever since its launch, the AVC Learning Zone is becoming more popular day over day. We are happy to witness very positive interactions. It’s so overwhelming seeing how the public benefits from using the Learning Zone, which is a product of combining the advantages of multimedia digital technologies and interactive collaboration. In addition, the enrollment to our regular quarterly courses, I mean the current AVC Spring Term, has attracted three times more students than our average. Also, it is worth mentioning that AGBU offers several other digital educational resources, including learning applications for children, concise web talks on a variety of topics, and most importantly the Atlas platform, which contains a wide range of curated digital educational resources from a variety of providers.

Dr. Zorian, you perfectly combine the roles of a Fellow and Chief Architect at the #1EDA company Synopsys and the President of Synopsys Armenia. At the same time, you exemplify the devoted Armenian patriot who initiates and puts into action numerous projects that contribute to the prosperity of Armenian and preservation of the Armenian identity… How do you manage to do that?

That’s a difficult question to answer (smiling). But I will try to formulate it in a simple way - I do love what I do. On the one hand, Science and engineering are my passion, and as a fellow and chief architect at Synopsys, I enjoy working with my US and Armenia teams to bring into market new innovative products that help make our surrounding smarter, safer and more secure. As the President of Synopsys Armenia, I am responsible for driving R&D activities in Armenia that support Synopsys’ strategy to maintain its leadership in microelectronics. On the other hand, it gives me pleasure to contribute to the prosperity of Armenia, via supporting the IT industry and pushing the technological innovation in Armenia to the next level. And this objective is quite accomplishable by cooperating with academia, government, and the business community.

The rest of my other initiatives are also meant to serve my nation by boosting the Armenian identity in Diaspora and strengthening the prosperity of the homeland, which are the precisely the objectives of AGBU – with this, I just continue my family’s tradition to perform my responsibilities through this dedicated global organization. 

I think every Armenian around the globe should do his/her best, and we can only do so by staying connected and merging our efforts and resources. In order to keep Armenians connected, last fall together with Serj Tankian, Eric Esrailian and Alexis Ohanian, we co-founded a new pan-Armenian platform called HyeConnect.

That same year during the visit of the Prime Minister to Silicon Valley, I was very pleased to sign an agreement on behalf of AGBU Silicon Valley with the Minister of HighTech Industry, launching the “Armenian Virtual Bridge” program to proactively support the Armenian IT startups by providing them incubation and acceleration periods in Silicon Valley. This new partnership between AGBU and the Armenian government will formalize, support and expand what we have been already doing as AGBU Silicon Valley for many years.

In 2019, we also launched an Armenian branch of IEEE Computer Society. IEEE is the world's largest technical professional organization for the advancement of technology. As an organization that fosters technological innovation and excellence, it gives a great opportunity for Armenian professionals to be integrated into the worldwide community and help to better contribute to the advancement of the high tech industry of Armenia, as well as raising its visibility on a global scale. 

Beyond the abovementioned achievements, is there any dream, which for some reason you couldn’t fulfill or haven’t fulfilled yet?

I believe that education is the means to prosperity. I am dreaming of a day when every school in Armenia including rural villages will be fully equipped with state-of-the-art interactive and immersive online learning solutions, of course with their corresponding infrastructure, so our kids will have access to first-class education and thus allow the best chances of prosperity as a nation.

Interview by Gayane Markosyan


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