March 21, 2023

For the better part of February 25, 2023, over 100 community members, in addition to distinguished guests the likes of the Mayor of Glendale Ardy Kassakhian, Glendale Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Vivian Ekchian, and Armenian invention Robin the Robot, gathered in the spacious new facilities of AGBU Innovation Studios to view, experience, explore and celebrate the program’s success in its first year of operation.

Innovation Studios is all about equipping Armenian middle and high school students with a space and resources to develop a growth mindset and 21st century skills to become the next generation of gamechangers, whether in the fields of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) or not, but also the creative process itself through research, brainstorming, critical thinking, making prototypes, and presenting ideas.

Participants from the previous Sessions had the opportunity to showcase their projects and connect with tech industry leaders, who conducted mini-workshops from various perspectives. All attendees were able to gain a better understanding of the studios offerings, such as “BioRobotics,” “Living Architecture” “Augmented Reality Worlds” and more.

Always the crowd pleaser was Robin the Robot, the invention of Armenia-based Karen Khachikyan. In 2021, TIME Magazine recognized it as one of the 100 best inventions of that year. Students, parents and special guests had the chance to interact with the emotionally intelligent robot that helps soothe young children admitted to a hospital environment, helping them overcome their anxieties and loneliness. Participants also had a chance to hear about Karen Khachikyan’s journey to success. During the Q&A session, he talked about his childhood, what sparked his interest to pursue engineering and robotics. He also encouraged the younger audience to never stop pursuing their dreams no matter how far away they may seem.

Also present was Aaron Laniosz, NuVuX Program Designer and Architect who described the studio workshop experience and the tools, materials and technology available, also including laser cutting and 3D printing. Taron Khachatryan, the chief scientist and founder of Knoxlabs, ran a studio on Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR and VR), and Dr. Marcelyn Gow, SCI-Arc Undergraduate Programs Chair conducted a workshop in Architecture. Students were paired off to come up with an architectural proposal that would merge and collide with various climate scenarios).

Representing the field of education, Dr. Vivian Ekchian, the superintendent of the Glendale Unified School District, made remarks that resonated with the audience. “For the fields of STEAM, our students need as much exposure as possible, so they can build on their strengths and interests. This elevates the importance of access and participation,” she stated. She explained that students have a growth mindset, so whatever they haven’t been exposed to may be what prevents them from pursuing their aspirations. “To me, it is essential that students are able to participate regardless of what their future goals may be.” Dr. Ekchian also expressed how grateful she was for the chance to witness the students in action and extended her appreciation to the adults who are making Innovation Studios possible for the youth. “They are truly the influencers in our community and they are coming together to promote what learning really looks like, as a lifetime activity.”

In a fitting display of what that access looks like, AGBU Pasadena-Glendale Chapters Sports Committee and the Armenian Students Association awarded six recipients from the community with scholarships to future Innovation Studios.

In reflecting on the day’s events, AGBU Western Region Educational Programs Manager Nare Avagyan, beamed with pride remarking on how previous participants had grown in confidence, enlightened to the possibilities before them.  “What started out as a grand experiment has turned out to be a golden opportunity for Armenian youth to be ready for the future. With our wonderful instructors, state of the art equipment and multi-media supplies, they have all the resources to think critically and create freely.” She also emphasized the way they have bonded with other Armenian youth from different countries of origin, length of time in the U.S., and cultural influences, has also widened their horizons. “It’s a delight to watch the students connect to the future but also to their ancestral past. At Innovation Studios, we encourage them to explore their Armenian heritage, which is so rich with content from which to draw inspiration when deciding on the theme, message and purpose of their projects. We had high expectations and these students met the mark in all aspects.”

The Spring Session of Innovation Studios began on March 18 of this year. Summer session dates will be announced soon. To learn more, go to