ASU collaborates with Vietnamese province for bettering education, sustainability

After a 10-member delegation meeting that included top Vietnamese government and industry officials, ASU committed to take part in a program to help promote sustainable growth, modernize engineering and medical educational programs, train provincial leadership and generally develop the province of Vinh Phuc, Vietnam.

As the next step for the partnership, ASU faculty members are scheduled to travel to Vinh Phuc in mid-December to discuss the practical projects that will help the region grow.

Leaders of the delegation included Phung Quang Hung, chairman of the Vinh Phuc People’s Committee, who worked with faculty from various departments of ASU, including the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the Office of Global Outreach & Extended Education, the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering and the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development.

Jeff Goss, executive director for the Office of Global Outreach & Extended Education and assistant dean in the engineering school, was heavily involved in the agreement and overall project.

“(Vinh Phuc) has experienced rapid growth, and they’re looking at ASU to help them develop the province in a more sustainable way,” he said. “It’s a great learning experience to engage in real-world problems and opportunities. They’re reaching out to us to support them, but at the same time, we’ll learn a lot as well.”

The partnership will benefit ASU as well as Vinh Phuc because of the immense learning opportunities that come with helping this quickly-developing region, Goss said. 

The memorandum is the result of a four-year project, funded chiefly by the U.S. government and Intel Corporation, that is designed to develop the modernization of undergraduate engineering education and sustainable growth.

This project is called the Higher Engineering Education Alliance, and ASU is one of HEEA’s primary institutions that meets Intel’s requirements for a strong, effective training program for future engineers in Vietnam.

Goss said because of the mutual benefits this agreement provides to enrich the University’s research opportunities while developing a foreign region, he envisions ASU making more memorandums and partnerships like this in the future.

“With the New American University, global engagement is an important design imperative,” he said. “The world is flat now. I see us doing many more (partnerships like this).”

The partnership between ASU and Vinh Phuc was originally arranged by the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington, D.C., as the province was looking for a university to help it develop its schools of engineering and public programs.

Dzung Le, chief economic counselor at the Vietnam Embassy in Washington, D.C., said the agreement is more than just a memorandum to encourage further development in engineering, medicine, public programs and sustainability.

“We believe that the agreement would serve as a reminder that both sides intend to do something together,” Le said. “It also serves to conceptualize what can be done. … It’s a great way to tell the world that we’re focusing on what’s next.”

He said despite the two communities’ distance, innovation will result if both parties focus on discovering practical solutions.

Le also said the embassy is extremely grateful to Arizona, through the works of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and ASU for generally working to better U.S.-Vietnamese relations in the recent past.

“We’re appreciative of the willingness of ASU to open their ams to Vietnamese students to study and research at ASU,” he said. “John McCain has been the champion of support of Vietnam for many years. We are very grateful for the positive momentum … and we’re looking to develop that relationship further in the future.”

Bioengineering professor Vincent Pizziconi said the memorandum is an important measure in ASU’s larger effort to be a globally-responsible institution.

“ASU, as one of the largest, if not the largest, of the major universities in the U.S., has the responsibility, capacity and, moreover, long-term commitment of playing a major role on the world stage in addressing pressing global problems,” he said in an email.

Pizziconi also said he absolutely anticipates ASU to continue to make more international memorandums in the future and hopes the HEEA project will be expanded to many other nations around the world.

“It is very important to build close relationships between institutions with diverse cultures from different countries to forge a common vision having broad societal impact,” he said.

By Emily Mahoney
State Press