Narek HarutyunyanBrown University
Sc.B. in Mechanical Engineering
Huys Scholar 2023
As the centuries-old English proverb goes, curiosity killed the cat – and it almost killed me too.
I was five years old, engrossed in the fantastic world of Iron Man, when curiosity got the best of me. While Iron Man was the root of my deep scientific curiosity, it was also the beginning of a long tradition of all-nighters. Planted in front of the TV and hopped up on heroism, I asked my father whether the construction of Iron Man’s suit was a feasible undertaking. Although I was disappointed to hear his pessimistic response, it drove me to prove him wrong. Naturally, I started constructing my own Iron Man reality.
I didn’t sleep and instead made blueprints for my flying costume, which I finished the next day. After hours of intensive work, I climbed to the roof of our house, attached some ‘bombs’ to the suit for lift-off, and, banking on a five-year-old’s understanding of the mercy of gravity, jumped. Cherished readers, I most definitely flew… straight to the hospital with both of my hands broken. Little did I know that this incident would be the glorious genesis of my lifelong passion for engineering which has blossomed into a career.
Born and raised in an Armenian village, with limited opportunities to engage in robotic clubs or activities that would enhance my engineering skills, it was my unwavering curiosity which propelled me towards pursuing my undergraduate studies at foreign universities, where I can immerse myself in a myriad of captivating engineering pursuits and embrace countless opportunities for growth and engagement.
In the wake of the transformative Artsakh-Azerbaijan conflict in 2020, my resolute determination to embark on my studies overseas grew exponentially (I am originally from the Artsakh region, and I lost some of my friends during the war), fueled by an unwavering aspiration to return to Armenia imbued with newfound strength, knowledge, and resilience.
As of fall 2022, I started my education at Brown University, concentration in Mechanical engineering and Computer Science. During my first year, I was also part of the formula car team, and rocket engineering club. Above all, my involvement with The Automatic Coordination of Teams (ACT) Lab during my freshman year not only provided invaluable practical exposure to drone operation, robotics, and programming. Additionally, I was chosen from many applicants to conduct research in this lab this summer by Brown University. Presently, my responsibilities encompass a wide range of tasks, including extensive work on optimizing drone flights, developing software for remote control, as well as utilizing CAD designs to enhance the current drone configuration, all aimed at attaining specific objectives like dispersing liquids (water, paint) on desired locations using small quadcopters.
I have done a lot of work to get the most out of my college education so far, and I am more than positive that the opportunities that will come in the future with all of the networks that I will develop in the meantime will be pivotal for my future success in engineering in my country.
I am planning to pursue a Ph.D. degree after finishing my undergraduate education in the Aerospace engineering field. My goal is to open a startup or join the upcoming aerial industries in Armenia to tackle the current technological challenges for our nation.
The profound impact of advanced drone technology and intelligent robotics on various sectors, including the Armenian industry, education, and healthcare, cannot be overstated. These advancements play a pivotal role in safeguarding my nation’s security by bolstering defenses against external threats, as demonstrated by the essential roles UAVs played during recent wars. Furthermore, the utilization of multi-drone systems holds tremendous potential, particularly in emergencies, enabling efficient drug delivery and enhancing accessibility to remote locations. The presence of more drones and flying objects also has the power to ignite the interest of upcoming generations, providing them with early career opportunities in the robotics field, a dream I cherished since childhood.
I am confident that the knowledge I will acquire through my work in the ACT Lab and my studies at Brown University will empower me to contribute to initiatives in Armenia. One specific area of potential benefit is the implementation of multi-drone mechanisms, which could revolutionize agriculture and healthcare by enabling efficient access to remote locations and performing tasks with greater efficiency. Additionally, I am dedicated to fostering collaboration with local universities and industries to enhance UAV technologies in Armenia. This collaborative effort not only has the potential to boost the local economy but also to improve technical education in the country.
Similar to how Iron Man represented resiliency and hope, my unshakable dedication to making goals come true is motivated by a deep-seated desire to advance and better my own country. I am motivated by a strong feeling of nationalism in addition to my perseverance as I make progress toward a career in the aerospace sector. Every step forward serves as a reminder of the youngster version of myself who dared to defy gravity and dream of the unimaginable. This particular spirit, which began with two broken legs, is what motivates me to pursue a career in engineering and be the nexus of global technological development—a relentless commitment to making a difference in the growth of aerospace technology, not only for my professional success but also to better my country through advanced robotics and technology.
I am aware that Huys Foundation is granting the Huys Scholarship to me with the anticipation of my good faith pursuit and implementation of the projects and undertakings described in this letter, to which I hereby commit.