The Rising of a Rocket - Part 3

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You can read Part 2 at:

Mano Chilingirian: The 1960s were truly historical for Haigazian University and its students. Today, Haigazian University’s young and vibrant students read with great admiration about the unprecedented achievements of the HCRS hanging on the walls of the Student Lounge and they uphold those myth-like stories as a badge of honor. In your opinion, what are the important ingredients that a university culture should possess in order for an extraordinary success such as that of the HCRS to be repeated in the 21st century?

Dr. Manougian: Creation of the HCRS was in response to what was current and important in the world at the time. The 1960s were a time when rockets and space explorations were center stage. The U.S. and the Soviet Union were in competition to control space. The HCRS provided students with an understanding of the science involved in the conflict.

Upon my return in 1964 we began by having a science exhibition that displayed our earlier launchings as well as our plans for the next two years. The exhibit was held at The Haigazian College and was attended by local school students and the general public.
A question that I am often asked is why I initiated the Haigazian College Rocket Society. For a meaningful educational experience a college has to offer cutting-edge research in the various disciplines. One has to remember that in the latter part of the 1950s and the 1960s rocketry and space exploration were center-stage in world affairs. The United States and the Soviet Union had locked horns for control of space. What better way to teach current issues and the interaction of mathematics and physics than rocketry and space exploration?

Mr. Karegeozian: There are many new areas of science that are of great importance today to both – young students at Haigazian University as well as the population of Lebanon, the surrounding countries and the world. The important ingredient is to have the inquisitive mind, to have a figurehead like a teacher, under whose tutelage the students will learn to explore and investigate scientific subjects that are outside their studies. These scientific research needs to be conducted correctly so that it does not cause damage to any member of the investigative team. However, applying what one learns at the university and having applied that knowledge in a project, gives students the experience of investigative research which will bring forth a lot of new discoveries, but most of all it will produce a student population that in the future will be versed well in being discoverers and pioneers in science or any other subject they choose to pursue.

Characteristics of a one-stage rocket are being presented at the show

The following article from The Daily Star tells the story of the last launching involving HCRS.

On a lighter note regarding the conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, I offer you Deputy Emile Bustany:

Mano Chilingirian: How do you look back to the days at The Haigazian College?

Dr. Manougian: As you now know the HCRS was my brainchild that was motivated by my passion for rocketry. The objective of the Society was to teach my students the methods of mathematics and science. Haigazian University and the country of Lebanon provided me with the venue to perform the experiments that we did. It is noteworthy that the rocket project was introduced to Lebanon by Armenians with the aid of an Armenian university. It brought together students from Jerusalem, Lebanon and Syria. I have always had special feelings for Lebanon in view of her coming to the rescue of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and providing a place for the thousands of orphans created by the genocide.
A few days after the launching of Cedar 8, I returned to the University of Texas to complete my education for a doctorate in mathematics. I left realizing that The Haigazian College was a leader in higher education. After about five decades, I look back with excitement at a rare voyage of discovery and the realization of a dream come true that The Haigazian College, my students, and the country of Lebanon offered me.

Mano Chilingirian: Do you ever plan to visit Lebanon again?

Mr. Karegeozian: Yes, I remember these difficult but very fun days that have gone forever.

Mano Chilingirian: It all started with a group comprising Simon Aprahamian, Garabed Basmadjian, Hampartsum Karageuzian, Hrair Kelechain, Michael Ladah and John Tilkian who set out to prepare single and multistage solid fuel rockets that was unmatched in Lebanese history. They had a vision expanding beyond the borders of this small state located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. What would you like to say to current Lebanese-Armenian students in general and Haigazian University students in specific?

Dr. Manougian: In the 21st Century there are many issues that students should be aware of: wars, climate change, medical advances, poverty, technology, etc. On top of my list is man’s inhumanity to man be it in wars or genocide. This is why I have chosen to address these issues. I helped produce a 4-hour documentary on the history of genocide, I teach a course on genocide and a course on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict for honor students, and I helped establish a center that deals with domestic violence. I write articles for newspapers on these subjects to raise the consciousness of students and the public in general.
As I have said on many occasions, the program of the Haigazian College Rocket Society and the Lebanese Rocket Society was strictly an educational initiative designed to teach students the methods of mathematics and science through the medium of rocketry. Selection of rocketry was based on the fact that it was the leading scientific topic of the time. The challenge was enormous and the successes proved to be exhilarating. As with any scientific experimentation the results may be used for peaceful purposes and they may be used for destructive purposes. For example, atomic power may be used to satisfy our energy needs, or it may be used to annihilate nations; chemical compounds may be used to heal the sick or they may be used to poison people. So is the case with rocketry. It may be used to explore space or it may be used to wage war and destruction. Our project was never for the latter. It was a unique educational journey exploring the peaceful applications of science. Finally, to people everywhere I say, reject violence and embrace and promote peaceful coexistence for the good of humanity.