ASPIRED Interns Learn About Sustainable Management of Armenia’s Groundwater Resources

In December 2019, two graduate students from the Yerevan State University, Department of Geography and Geology began their internship at the USAID-funded Advanced Science and Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) Project. During a ten-month internship, Inga Siradeghyan and Nara Mnatsakanyan successfully completed multiple tasks aimed at sustainable management of groundwater resources in the Ararat Valley of Armenia. The tasks were quite technical and complex, and they were carried out under the continuous mentorship and supervision of the ASPIRED staff.

Inga Siradeghyan

Practical application of knowledge is the key to becoming a good professional…

Since I was a student, I dreamed of obtaining a Master’s degree to deepen my professional knowledge and pave my way for a future career. My Master’s thesis was about modeling and assessment of the level of danger of avalanches in the Zangezur Mountain Range of the Syunik region of Armenia. The topic was not easy, requiring advanced tools and skills for their targeted application. This is where the opportunity with the ASPIRED Project internship came to help.

After joining the USAID ASPIRED Project, a new horizon opened for me. As an intern, I came to understand the practical aspects of my profession and learned to effectively use my capacities and skills for the achievement of specific professional goals and tasks.

I applied the innovative approaches and tools introduced by ASPIRED for water resources management, to conduct the studies for my thesis, particularly the ArcGIS (Geographic Information System) and the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) analytical method. Working in the ArcGIS environment I developed the skills and experience of using practical tools, which were later applied to model avalanche-prone areas of the Zangezur Mountain Range and assess the risks of danger. Thus, the new skills I acquired can be used to conduct thorough analyses, both strategic and economic, and propose sound solutions to existing issues in different sectors. I am sure that this knowledge will help me, as a beginner, to be competitive in the labor market.

In addition, while working on the ASPIRED Project, I acquired a number of other skills that served as a cornerstone for my current work: the compilation and organization of databases, and the analysis of temporal and spatial datasets within ArcGIS.”

Since July, right after completing the ASPIRED internship, Inga started a new position as assistant to an expert at the “Community Consolidation and Support Center” NGO based in her hometown of Alaverdi. Together with her colleagues, Inga works on identification and analysis of various issues in the communities of the Lori region of Armenia, raising cases of human rights violations, and providing advice and support, while applying the knowledge and experience gained under ASPIRED.

At the end of our conversation Inga mentioned: “Apart from everything else, I would like to emphasize that during my internship with the ASPIRED Project, I learned to work with a professional team, acquire knowledge, listen to and learn from them, and grow professionally and personally. I consider this an important gain to serve as an effective member of the team and be part of an important program.

Nara Mnatsakanyan

My final thesis was “Real estate transactions in medieval Armenia,” linked to a prototype of the cadastral system and transactions in medieval Armenia. Obviously, this was a complex topic that required reliable data, identification of potential sources, and extensive data analysis.

Based on the modeling experience gained during my internship in the ASPIRED Project, I developed a large database for my final thesis. Apart from this, I often applied this practical knowledge to develop and design thematic maps.

The knowledge gained during my internship encouraged me to enroll in a business project and I am hopeful of success. No doubt, the ASPIRED internship was a great experience for a beginner to make her first professional steps. It was a great learning opportunity for a GIS analyst.”

At present, Nara is working at the Ijevan Branch of Yerevan State University, teaching information systems analysis using GIS.

My vision of my career and future are linked to GIS analyses. It is hard to explain, but I love my job and I yearn to improve my skills further in this field.