AESA Detroit Supports Armenia’s CRD (part II)

The Detroit section of the Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America (AESA) is an organization of engineers, scientists, industrialists, and architects. Their current officers are Ned Apigian (president), Mike Arzoumanian (vice-president), Edmond Megerian (secretary), and Shahan Kavafian (treasurer). The rest of the membership act as advisors. The Detroit section is a chapter of the AESA of Glendale, Calif. 

The AESA has extended its efforts to assist Armenians in the homeland by creating worthwhile technical projects there to develop the population’s economic wellbeing and stop the brain-drain—as the lack of job opportunities has caused many to seek employment in other countries. Their intelligence and brain power must remain in Armenia to ensure its growth and prosperity. This is another area where the AESA comes in with their work projects.

As discussed in Part I of this story, the AESA is collaborating with the Armenian Social Investment Fund (ASIF), directed by Ashot Kirakosyan who manages the direction of projects. ASIF gives employment to local engineers, architects, construction workers, and contractors to renovate the roads and community centers, build schools, and provide potable water supply systems. Improving the quality of life for the villagers is vital.

There exists in Armenia a world-class scientific organization called the Cosmic Ray Division (CRD) headed by Prof. Ashot Chilingarian. Its mission is to measure the cosmic rays of the sun and space and to predict the weather conditions on Earth. This very important work of measuring cosmic rays is critical to human life. Enormous eruptions on the sun spew masses of charged particles and radiation that is damaging to civilian and military electronic equipment. The CRD of the Alikhanyan Physics Institute of Yerevan, established under the Soviets in 1942, has been studying this phenomenon with great success.

One of their achievements has been to develop a data analysis alerting system that provides warnings—as early as 35 minutes in advance—of the potential damage these rays can inflict on technical equipment. The storms can lead to widespread blackouts by causing power surges in the power lines. They can also cause unhealthy doses of radiation to astronauts.

The CRD has 90 scientists, engineers, technicians, and other support staff carrying out this critical work. They live and work in three shifts between the 10,500-ft. Mt. Aragats station and Yerevan and Nor Ambert (6,000 ft). If you bought one of the CRD’s 2009 calendars, you would see the extreme depth of the snow there. It’s a long, harsh winter and because of this the Detroit AESA has provided them with two heavy-duty snowmobiles for emergency evacuation and to transport equipment.

In May 2009, the CRD will receive two six-passenger ARGO diesel tractors, replacing the present unreliable one. The Detroit AESA has provided the CRD with a seven-passenger Mercury Mountaineer SUV, with thanks going to member Harutyun Vaporciyan for his ace price-negotiating skills. The students benefiting from these updates range from undergrads to postdoctoral apprentices. Chilingarian proudly described them “as our road to the future” to Boston-area AESA member Joe Dagdigian, who is a frequent visitor there.

“Armenia does not have any significant natural resources to explore for its economic survival, but it can count on its peoples’ brain power, its intellect,” Vaporciyan stated. “Its precious talent must remain in Armenia. Research opportunities must be funded.” For this reason, the AESA also provides one half of the students expenses ($18,000). This year, the total dollar amount contributed by the Detroit Section to the CRD will be $220,000.

Chilingarian and Ashot Kirakosyan were guests in Detroit in 2007 at the AESA’s 10th anniversary dinner celebration. Chilingarian at that time said: “I want to stay in Armenia and encourage my students, whom it has been a pleasure to work with. Detroit has made immense financial contributions to the CRD.” Chilingarian’s goal for the CRD is to become totally self-supporting, but until then help from the diaspora is needed.

Dagdigian sent a message read at the AESA dinner, which read: “Detroit’s contributions are unique and innovative, making an enormous difference. The CRD’s facilities have gone from terrible to up-to-date and livable.” During a recent visit there, Dagdigian saw all of the young and educated people working as colleagues at the CRD, which made him very proud.

Tax-deductible donations to one of the many organizations providing support to Armenia can be made out to AESA-MI and addressed to AESA-MI, P.O. Box 4867, Troy, MI 48098. Contact any member for further information.

Part I of this story appeared in the March 7 issue of the Weekly.

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Betty Apigian-Kessel

Betty (Serpouhie) Apigian Kessel was born in Pontiac, Mich. Together with her husband, Robert Kessel, she was the proprietor of Woodward Market in Pontiac and has two sons, Bradley and Brant Kessel. She belonged to the St. Sarkis Ladies Guild for 12 years, serving as secretary for many of those years. During the aftermath of the earthquake in Armenia in 1988, the Detroit community selected her to be the English-language secretary and she happily dedicated her efforts to help the earthquake victims. She has a column in the Armenian Weekly entitled “Michigan High Beat.”

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