If you’ve spent any time at TUMO, you’ve seen Astghik Hambardzumyan zipping around the building, chatting intently on video calls, and shepherding lab leaders to and for. As Learning Labs Coordinator, she is the first point of contact between TUMO and dozens of professionals that come to work with our students each year.
The TUMO program consists of self-learning activities, workshops, and learning labs — short-term, hands-on projects led by industry professionals from around the world. That’s where Astghik comes in. She recruits professionals to volunteer two or more weeks at TUMO and works closely with them to curate labs. Her team of two, Marianna Zakiyan and Liana Harutyunyan, a TUMO alumna, make sure that every learning lab is an unforgettable experience for students.
“You don’t have to be a professor or a teacher to come to TUMO,” explained Astghik. “You just need to be a specialist in your field, passionate about what you do, and have an interesting idea for a lab. That’s all…I mean, that’s a bunch of things.”
Recruitment often begins with an email from Astghik to a prospective lab leader or vice-versa. “Every morning, I’m greeted by emails like — ‘Hey Astghik, thanks for reaching out,’ ‘How do I pronounce your name?’ and ‘Let’s have a call.’ I’m on several calls a day, telling people about TUMO and discussing ideas for labs,” she said.
Astghik has been part of the Learning Labs team for nearly three years and has seen hundreds of lab leaders come and go. This July, her team is up for a challenge — all four TUMO centers in Armenia and Artsakh are dedicating the month to labs. That means the centers will host close to 100 learning labs with TUMO workshop leaders, international and local professionals, including ones from Airbnb, Microsoft, Hulu and GQ.
“My favorite parts of my job are getting emails confirming great lab leaders and seeing what students create in labs,” said Astghik. “That’s when I feel proud of what I do. I’m part of a big team that works together to give students completely new experiences.”
Recently, a TUMO graphic design workshop leader approached Astghik with an idea to invite Cabeza Patata, a well-known Barcelona-based design studio. Imagine Astghik’s satisfaction when she told him that the lab is already confirmed. Cabeza Patara is coming to TUMO in July!