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Brief report on Information Day on TEMPUS IV BME-ENA “Biomedical Engineering Education Initiative in Eastern Neighboring Area” Project and Workshop on BME Education, May 2015, Armenia

Information Day on TEMPUS IV project “Biomedical Engineering Education Initiative in Eastern Neighboring Area” (BME-ENA) and Workshop on BME Education was held at National Polytechnic University of Armenia (former SEUA) on 20 May 2015, with participation of five project partner institutions: the Project coordinator - University of Patras (UPAT, Greece), Technical University of Varna (TUV, Bulgaria), National Polytechnic University of Armenia (NPUA, former SEUA, Armenia), Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University (RAU, Armenia), Armenian Association of Telemedicine (AATM, Armenia), and National Erasmus Plus Office in Armenia (NEO+ Armenia).

The principal goal of the event was to present a new Joint Master’s Program in Biomedical Engineering (BME), which will be launched in September 2015 at NPUA and RAU in Armenia, as well as in other three countries Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The study program was developed within the framework of the TEMPUS IV BME-ENA project with participation of leading BME experts from 7 EU countries (Greece, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania). The program is built in line with European policy and the most recent developments and demands in the field. It will allow local students to take some courses in the European partner countries, as well as, to learn from EU professors visiting Armenia. 

The scientific event was organized with the occasion of the Coordinator (UPAT) and Armenia Local Working Group EU coordinator (TUV) visit for the Project Working Group meeting to Armenia Partner Universities within the framework of the TEMPUS IV BME-ENA Project.

Welcome addresses were given by Prof. Ruben Aghgashyan, the Vice-Rector for International Cooperation and Development of NPUA, who opened the event. Therefore, he presented an overview on the structure, activities and achievements of NPUA.

The Workshop program consisted of the following presentations:

Perspectives of Biomedical Engineering Education: Prof. Nicolas Pallikarakis - Coordinator of BME-ENA Project, University of Patras, Greece.

Prof. Nicolas Pallikarakis had shown based on the survey performed in the framework of the TEMPUS IV CRH-BME Project that the Biomedical Engineering educational sector is booming. Biomedical Engineering programs are experiencing rapid grow after the year 2000, most of which were created during last five years. This leads to an increased number of Biomedical Engineers available on the market today.

He also presented Biomedical Engineering profession and its international perspectives. Biomedical engineering is one of the fastest growing technological areas in the developed world, in part due to population ageing and the related increased needs, the increasing awareness of the importance of health in human productive life and the high added value of BME products and services. Only EU Medical Devices Market has an important place in medical technology, accounting for 30% of global sales (in 2009). The future of biomedical engineering as a profession is in a high demand. In a recent study, the US Dept. of Labor predicts that the BME profession will be among the “hottest” jobs by the end of this decade, with large added value in products and services. 

Prof. Pallikarakis presented Medical Device Life Cycle, which starts with the innovative idea. In order to become a prototype it should pass the Development-Testing-Evaluation-Specifications cycle and then the product undergoes the preclinical testing. During the next step of Clinical Studies which should pass the stage of e.g. Standards and Directives in order to get to the manufacturing stage and then to appear on the market. The Clinical Engineers are playing an essential role while the device is being used through e.g. Vigilance, Management, Health Technology Assessment etc. The last stage is the obsolescence of Medical Device. 

He also presented the TEMPUS IV BME-ENA project, its objectives, goals and importance of design, development and implementation of four interdisciplinary joint MSc degree programs in BME between the participating universities in each one of the ENA countries: Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Through these MSc programs, the ENA countries will be able to face the challenges of biomedical technology through capacity building measures and establish close collaboration links with the EU project partners providing the possibility to link local educational institutions with high experience EU Universities.  

Overview of the New Joint MSc Program in BME in Armenia: Georgi Chaltikyan - President of Armenian Association of Telemedicine, Local Coordinator of the BME-ENA Project in Armenia.

Dr. Georgi Chaltikyan, the moderator of the event, has presented in details the BME-ENA project and new Joint Master's Program in Biomedical Engineering, its perspectives in Armenia and other neighboring countries: Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine.

Further on, the following presentations have been given by several representatives of different partner institutions, revealing their views, experience and expectations related to the education in BME in Armenia and in general, and to the new joint BME MSc program, in particular. 

BME Studies at NPUA: Prof. Vahe Buniatyan - Head of Department of Microelectronics and Medical Devices, NPUA 

Biomedical Specialties at RAU: Prof. Hrachik Vardapetyan - Head of Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biotechnology, RAU 

European Collaboration in BME Study Programs: Assoc. Prof. Ivan Buliev - Department of Electronic Engineering and Microelectronics, Technical University of Varna, Bulgaria 

International mobility programs in NPUA: Zara Grigoryan - Senior Specialist at Department of International Cooperation and Grant Programs, NPUA  

Joint Degree and Mobility Programs at RAU: Suzanna Shamakhyan - Head of Department of International Cooperation, RAU 

The National Erasmus Plus Officer Ms. Lana Karlova who attended the Information Day congratulated all the partners on the advancement of the project and addressed some challenges of the program implementation in the Armenian institutions.

In the Information Day there has been high number of attendees, both students and academic staff of the two universities, NPUA and RAU. The event concluded with fruitful discussions among all the participants. The presentations have been considered very useful for the audience. 



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