In November of 2022, 25 Armenian undergraduate and graduate computer students from the National Polytechnic University of Armenia (NPUA) took a specially designed, online continuing education program with modules developed by USC Viterbi professors Sven Koenig, Clifford Neuman, and Antonio Ortega.
The NPUA students engaged in 35 hours of customized content focusing on cybersecurity and other engineering topics. The 50- to 60-minute modules included “Introduction to Cyber Security”, “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”, and “Introduction to Linear Algebra.” Each students took 33 hours of online, asynchronous classes as well as two additional hours of live online sessions.
“The process was pretty straightforward,” said Neuman, an associate professor of computer science practice who taught Introduction to Cyber Security. “I’ve been lecturing in the Distance Education Network since 1992. The only difference was that I needed to develop a more streamlined versions of the classes—going through the material and deciding which are the most relevant things that we can fit into effectively nine hours.”
The USC Viterbi School of Engineering has been committed to providing opportunities for students all over the world through its pioneering distance education network, [email protected], which enables online learning on a global scale. The program, regularly ranked among the top five in the nation, celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.
To make this collaboration possible, Charlie Ghailian, chairman of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies Leadership Council, contacted donors to support continuing education for Armenian computer science students.
Six donors, including Armenian-American tech leaders such as Alexandr Yesayan and Vahe Kuzoyan, contributed to the pilot program.
Ghailian said these donors are motivated by an emotional connection to the USC Viterbi community, as well as a commitment to providing the opportunities the next generation of young Armenian students need to succeed.
“The Armenian community in Southern California has a long-standing relationship with USC,” Ghailian said. “So, when it comes to these opportunities of connecting with these gifted students on the other side of the ocean through specific funding connections such as these virtual classes, we are motivated to find the opportunity. Sometimes the only difference in success is finding that opportunity.”
Professor Raghu Raghavendra, USC Viterbi’s vice dean for global academic initiatives, hopes that this collaboration with NPUA will open new doors for online learning.
Raghavendra and USC Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos are scheduled to visit NPUA this June to continue discussions of developing in-person partnerships, such as USC faculty lecturing at NPUA.
“It is important to our program that we are accessible and well-known globally,” Raghavendra said. “If anyone wants to study in the United States, we want USC to be the place they think of.”