Tumo Center for Creative Technologies
|Tumo Center for Creative Technologies|
|President||Sam and Sylva Simonian|
|Director||Marie Lou Papazian|
|Affiliations||Simonian Educational Foundation|
The Tumo Center for Creative Technologies (Armenian: Թումո ստեղծարար տեխնոլոգիաների կենտրոն) is a free of charge digital media learning center in Yerevan, Armenia. Since its opening in 2011, the center has provided thousands of students aged 12–18 an open environment where they can use the latest in digital tools, learn from media professionals, and explore the intersection of technology and art.
Tumo is a non-profit venture founded by Sam and Sylva Simonian who fully fund its educational program through the Simonian Educational Foundation.
The initial impetus behind Tumo was to create a synergistic hub for education and technology in Armenia. Various ideas were considered in the context of a mixed use technology and education hub. The plans eventually settled on building an after-school center for teenagers. Construction started in 2003 and ended in 2009-2010.
Tumo is the creation of Inet Technologies co-founder Sam Simonian and his wife Sylva. The Simonian Foundation fully funds the center, its programs, and the adjacent Tumanyan Park. The Simonians are also directly involved in Tumo’s operations, with Sam lending his knowledge on technology and its economic impact and Sylva contributing to the center’s engagement with the environment and the program’s overall curriculum.
Marie Lou Papazian is CEO of the Simonian Educational Foundation and Managing Director of Tumo. In addition to her responsibilities in managing the center, she led the design and construction management of the center’s interior architecture and outdoor plaza. Prior to Tumo, Marie Lou co-founded the Education for Development Foundation in 2001, where she led the Three Pomegranates project linking Armenian students to their global peers through web-based educational activities. She has a graduate degree in Education from the Columbia Teachers College and serves as a member of the Information Technology Council of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia.
Tumo’s Board of Advisors is made up of professionals from North America and Armenia with industry experience across the center’s core focus areas. Members include Twitter's Vice President of Platform Engineering Raffi Krikorian, Pixar’s Katherine Sarafian, System of a Down’s lead vocalist Serj Tankian, and Industrial Toys’ Alex Seropian.
Board of Advisors
Students at Tumo advance through the center’s learning program based on their individual preferences and at their own pace. Within that flexible framework, they work towards very specific learning targets organized around four focus areas: animation, game development, web development, and digital media.
Tumo members are initially encouraged to get exposure to all four of Tumo’s focus areas. As they progress through the curriculum, completing a succession of increasingly challenging projects, members begin to concentrate on one of the four areas and work towards completion of a final project at the end of a two-year cycle.
In addition to instruction in its main focus areas, the Tumo curriculum covers a set of supporting technical, artistic and professional skills. These include computer programming, 3D modeling, 2D graphics, drawing, music, writing, online literacy and communication.
Members create their own personal learning plans as a path through the Tumo World, a game-like virtual environment designed to facilitate navigating the multifaceted curriculum. As they complete activities in the form of tutorials, exercises and projects, they are supported by Learning Coaches who interact with them continuously in order to assist and guide them through the learning experience.
Self-paced, individual and team activities alternate with hands-on workshops. These are classes where members collaborate on project-based learning with the help of a workshop leader, as well as lectures and other events that inspire them and help them expand their learning horizons.
Tumo’s flagship location in Yerevan occupies over 6,000 square meters on the first two floors of a modern building. This space is especially designed to fit the flexibility and transparency of the Tumo learning system. The building’s other four floors provide office space to technology and media companies that have the potential of becoming partners in Tumo’s educational mission. The rental income from these commercial tenants ensures the sustainability of the Tumo program.
Tumo members work with over 450 computer workstations on specially designed mobile furniture, and packed with industry standard software. These are complemented with over 100 iPads and other mobile devices, as well as 3D printers, musical keyboards, and photo and video cameras. Members have access to a professional movie theater and a dedicated gaming room equipped with all the popular game consoles where members specializing in game development play and analyze leading video games. Brainstorming areas create comfortable settings for exploration and teamwork. Multiple labs, some equipped with specialized audiovisual equipment, host the Tumo workshops. And members and staff have access to an affordably-priced cafeteria which sustains them with nourishment during extended learning and production sessions.
Tumo is located in one of Yerevan’s largest green areas, Tumanyan Park, which is maintained and managed by Tumo. The park is equipped with a range of sports and recreation facilities, including a basketball court and a football field. The Tumo Plaza, acting as a link between the technology of the Tumo building and the natural setting of Tumanyan Park, is an innovative outdoor space made up of large, triangulated surfaces and packed with water features: a reflective pool, a large historic fountain equipped with hundreds of LED lights, and a playful pop-up fountain.
In January 2013, with the support of the Central Bank of Armenia, Tumo launched its free of charge program in Dilijan, a resort town in northern Armenia. The center operates in the Knowledge for Development Center, the local library building reconstructed by the Central Bank.
Similar to the original Tumo, students in Dilijan are split across four focus areas (animation, digital media, video game development, and web development) and hands-on workshops taught by professional mentors. It is equipped with 29 workstations and currently serves more than 200 teenagers enrolled in the program who come from Dilijan and other adjacent rural areas.
Another Tumo branch will open in Stepanakert with the support of the Armenian General Benevolent Union.