FAST fellowship program: The first step to education-science ecosystem

( The Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST) announced the launch of a fellowship program that will support postgraduate students and university applicants in natural sciences or engineering to do research in leading universities of Armenia in order to get PhD degree.

Today CEO of the Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology Armen Orujyan and Armenian Minister of Education and Science Levon Mkrtchyan talked in detail to the press about the fellowship program and the prospects of cooperation between the foundation and the ministry.

40 fellowships for top postgraduates and applicants

FAST CEO Armen Orujyan informed that the foundation prepared annual fellowships for postgraduate students and university applicants.

Levon Mkrtchyan and Armen Orujyan

Minister of Education Levon Mkrtchyan said in his turn that the first agreement between FAST and the ministry is also the first step towards “cooperation that stands with both feet on the ground”.

“We’re trying to provide our researching students with the necessary basis: fellowships, more favorable conditions to do science in Armenia, and further training. Soon we’ll be standing at the turning point in terms of quality of higher education and strengthening of the education-science ties,” said the minister.

“FAST is a platform that helps to gather people, centralize and mobilize resources. We’re playing the role of an accelerator. This fellowship program is designed for the top 10% of physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry and engineering students,” said Armen Orujyan.

The foundation will announce 5 full fellowships USD 7,000 each and 25 partial fellowships USD 3,500 each for the 2018/19 academic year, as well as 10 full fellowships USD 7,000 each for female postgraduates and applicants. The program’s total budget for 2018 is USD 200,000.

According to Armen Orujyan, the goal of providing full fellowships to female scientists is to facilitate women’s involvement in natural sciences and engineering.

“We’re doing this to get the idea across to young people that we attach importance to science the same as them, and we want them to focus on research and scientific discoveries instead of trying to find a job to cover their expenses,” said Armen Orujyan.

FAST: A driving force

Levon Mkrtchyan said that this initiative is mainly aimed at motivating young people to pursue sciences seriously: “Our country has no other alternative. It is our duty to maintain Armenia’s status as a scientific center.”

He remarked that FAST will be a powerful, driving force in Armenia’s educational and scientific system, which will try to help scientific institutions and support initiatives of high scientific value.

Touching upon future plans, Armen Orujyan said that they will involve teaching staff as well.

“We will closely cooperate with Armenian Ministry of Education and Science so that young scientists can receive the best possible knowledge here. We should develop Armenian science to comply with the international standards.”

Levon Mkrtchyan added that they plan to form the necessary base for the directions of FAST’s program.

“If we have the relevant base in Armenia, the foundation will provide retraining, reinforcement, and establishment of laboratories. In case of new directions, the foundation will use the potential of invited professionals and Armenian scientists from Diaspora.”

Diaspora’s potential and ecosystem mechanism for education and sciences

According to Levon Mkrtchyan, FAST started registering scientists of Armenian origin, who are ready to help their homeland.

“This is an immense potential, these people are highly qualified scientists. Together with FAST, we are ready to create the required infrastructure so that they can work here. The country should be ready to receive this level of quality.”

CEO of FAST remarked there are a number of professional scientists from various sectors and added: “Right now we intend to involve them in cooperation mechanism within the ecosystem, which will operate in the most optimal level.”

Both Ministry of Education and Science and FAST prioritize the formation of scientific and educational ecosystems.

“We need to completely change the system of higher education in Armenia and form the network of scientific system. The country needs to provide medium European–level higher education to be competitive. Scientific community, universities and the labor market should be in one network so that students and scientists have the opportunity to freely communicate in this triangle,” Levon Mkrtchyan said.

Marie Taryan