I was in Armenia last week, courtesy, you could barely Adam and Eve it, of the British Embassy, and was given the chance to speak to many a vendor, to students, and to regular people too, and taste the atmosphere of this ancient country.
In particular, I was privileged to interview Dr. Vazgen Melikyan, the director of Synopsys Armenia’s education department and believe you me, that was quite an eye opener. The company is running effectively a powerhouse university.
Like its competitor, Mentor Graphics, Synopsys is investing money in bringing Armenia squarely into the 22nd century. The country is noted for its development skills – for example, an Armenian invented optical laser surgery, while another, American Armenian, Charlie Demerjian, invented an influential magazine called semiaccurate.com.
The professor said that the Synopsys aim is to cooperate with the main American universities. He said: “We select the best students after the second year.”
He said the internal university also offers a PhD programme, an IC design programme and an electronic design course.
Synopsys licenses its tools to external students with each licence worth around $1.5 million. But its students get the tools free of charge.
“We’re changing our curriculum in response to changing conditions,” said Professor Melikyan. Ninety percent of its students get jobs in the semiconductor industry and 77 percent get jobs in Armenia. The rest work for competitors such as Mentor Graphics.
Synopsys Armenia has its own library, which we saw when we were there last week, and it’s pretty impressive.
The Armenian story appears to be largely untold, although here at TechEye we’ve known about the influence its scientists and engineers have for some years. What we particularly like, resulting from our visit, is the clear enthusiasm and dynamism of the ICT industry in the country.
It’s pretty clear to us that the story needs to be told outside the confines of the IT industry – this little country is clearly going places.