Obama highlights ASU during trip to Vietnam

Cites university's HEEAP program to improve engineering education

President Barack Obama, during a visit to Vietnam, spoke of Arizona State University’s efforts in that country to improve education in science and engineering, part of ASU’s efforts to engage globally and develop solutions to problems around the world.

In his opening statement during a press conference Monday with Vietnamese President Trần Đại Quang, Obama cited the efforts of major American institutions in helping to modernize the country with which the United States spent so many years at war.

“American academic and technological leaders, including Intel, Oracle, Arizona State University and others, will help Vietnamese universities boost training in science, technology, engineering and math …” Obama said.

“With this visit, the United States and Vietnam have agreed to a significant upgrade in our cooperation across the board. We’re taking new steps to give our young people the education and skills that they need to succeed.”

The ASU program to which the president referred is the Higher Engineering Education Alliance Program, or HEEAP, which trains Vietnamese professors from eight universities on more innovative ways to teach engineering.

HEEAP — run by ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering — is modernizing traditional Vietnamese theory-based engineering programs by introducing applied and hands-on instructional approaches. In 2014, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology computer science and computer engineering programs achieved ABET accreditation, making them the first in Vietnam to do so.

Since its launch in 2010, HEEAP has trained 247 lecturers from eight partner institutions who, upon returning to Vietnam, are teaching and graduating work-ready students who possess the applied and technical communication skills required by multinational corporations. There has been an emphasis on attracting women to the field; 65 of the 247 trained lecturers were women.

In addition, more than 2,000 Vietnamese faculty have been trained at HEEAP’s in-country workshops. And the Vocational and University Leadership Innovation Institute, an educational capacity-building and training workshops and support program that is part of HEEAP, has trained more than 1,100 faculty leaders at dozens of events since 2012.

HEEAP’s founding partners in 2010 were the United States Agency for International Development and the Intel Corporation. Since then, HEEAP has added partnerships with Siemens Corporation, Cadence Inc. and Danaher Corporation.

Obama mentioned ASU in a section of his remarks discussing improving relations between the U.S. and the communist nation. He spoke of other universities and major corporations working to improve the education system (Harvard Medical School, Johnson & Johnson) and announced that the Peace Corps would start sending volunteers to Vietnam for the first time.

All of these partnerships, Obama said, will help to create a better relationship between the two countries.

“The friendship that our people forge will bring us closer together for decades to come,” he said.