New laboratories at NUACA with CIF grant
On November 17, a meeting was held at the National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia in the context of the Competitive Innovation Fund (CIF) of Higher Education of Armenia. The purpose of the meeting was the final monitoring of the CIF grant project implemented in NUACA. Varazdat Hovhannisyan, Grant Project Manager, welcomed the representatives of the RA Ministry of Education and Science and the ''Center for Education Projects'' PIU at the university. The attendees, accompanied by the representative of NUACA, toured all over the university’s territory and got acquainted with the completed works of the Educational and Experimental Laboratory for Architectural and Construction Specialties within the framework of CIF. It should be noted that in December 2015, the project "Modernization of Curricula for Architectural and Construction Specialties by the Establishment of Educational and Experimental Laboratory with Modern Technologies" was launched within the framework of the "Education Improvement" Project, in the context of which the university had begun the establishment of new laboratories with the support of the "Center for Education Projects" PIU. Due to the consistent work of the University, all the actions in the frames of the grant project were completed earlier than it was planned: in November of the current year. Moreover, the University has also been able to procure a number of additional laboratory equipment required for the full operation of laboratories using the savings from the implementation of other activities such as procurement of the main package of laboratory equipment within the framework of the project. The members of the monitoring working group started the visit from the "Educational and Research Laboratory of Building Materials and Products", where A. Arzumanyan, Head of the Department of Production Technology of Building Materials, Products and Structures, presented the details of the research already carried out through the modern equipment acquired as a result of the Grant Project. "Many problems with seismic resistant construction require an experimental solution. This is a science that cannot be satisfied only by providing theoretical justifications in audiences. Today the use of modern materials requires studying their impact on the further processing of the construction of the structure", says the head of the chair and adds, "We could only dream about having such a scientific research subdivision. In this regard, it's an invaluable gift for students in the field of construction science, as well as for the already established professionals to have a similar laboratory in Armenia." The capabilities of this laboratory have already been tested for the implementation of a number of essential projects, such as seismic stability testing of the Republic Square buildings in Yerevan and renovation works at Echmiadzin Cathedral. There are also activities actively implemented in the laboratory, as a result of which it is expected to receive important scientific innovations with further commercialization potential, such as waste recycling resulting from tuff processing, obtaining organic and low-cost means of thermal insulation of buildings, and other areas. This laboratory is not the only achievement of the project. NUACA already has an Educational and Experimental Laboratory Base equipped with modern equipment. In one place, the groundwater filtering properties are determined, while others learn design skills and gain practical knowledge. The members of the monitoring working group were in the "Laboratory of Groundwater Mechanics", which was established within the framework of the Grant Project, where students are provided with the best opportunities to introduce engineering and geophysical investigations. The new equipment acquired within the framework of the project allows determining physical and mechanical properties and the strength characteristics of the groundwater. Based on the laboratory base, the University has already initiated international cooperation with the Moscow State Construction Institute to carry out joint scientific researches. In the newly established laboratory, observing laboratory equipment, Mihran Yamukyan, the individual consultant providing professional support to the ''Center for Education Projects'' PIU, discussed a number of issues related to the maintenance of laboratory equipment. The attendees also walked around fully renovated and furnished architectural studios equipped with comprehensive equipment. Highlighting the importance of applying new technologies in the educational process, within the framework of the program, the University has acquired the laser machine tools which are applicable not only at the training hours, but also can be widely used in a number of sectors of the economy. Their use allows establishing strong links between education and production sphere. The lecturer of the Faculty of Architecture, Artur Yeghyan presented the possibilities of new equipment. ''The equipment introduced in the frames of the Grant Project can also be used in production. The goal is that students acquire practical skills and have the opportunity to further commercialize their knowledge," added the lecturer. The project manager also noted that the process of elaboration and review of educational programs in seven specialties related to the issues of architectural and construction materials science, technology and constructions, publication of training manuals was completed. At the end of the meeting, the participants discussed the opportunities for cooperation on the basis of the newly established laboratories. Varazdat Hovhannisyan, grant project manager, informed that the laboratory certification process has been launched, which is time-consuming, but as a result, the university will have a license to conduct the expertise for the two newly established laboratories. It should be added that this Educational and Experimental Laboratory Base equipped with modern equipment is a new standard of quality not only for NUACA, but also for the whole field.