VEEC 2016: Engineering education accreditation, strategic partnerships

15:22 | 14/04/2016 Society

(VEN) - Vietnam’s Higher Engineering Education Alliance Program (HEEAP), now in its sixth year, heads into the 2016 Vietnam Engineering Education Conference (VEEC) on April 14 and 15 with clear goals to advance the accreditation status of its engineering programs and expand strategic partnerships with industry. Founding partners Intel Corporation and Arizona State University (ASU) launched HEEAP in 2010 with funding from the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID).

The Fourth Annual VEEC conference, held in Ho Chi Minh City, brings together the academic, industrial and government communities for two days of interactive plenary sessions, panel discussions, technical sessions and seminars. This year’s focus is Workforce Competitiveness: Partnerships Driving Human Capital Skills and Standards.

Ted Osius, U.S. Ambassador in Vietnam delivers a speech at the conference

In alignment with the Trans-Pacific partnership (TTP) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community, Vietnam’s academic engineering programs have begun leveraging public-private alliances to ensure that higher educational systems produce workforce-ready graduates with enhanced skills to innovate in the country’s economy.

 “HEEAP has proven to be an outstanding example of the powerful difference that can be made with a strong public-private partnership”, says Sherry Boger, Vice President and General Manager of Intel Products Vietnam. “ASU has been leading the program to achieve key objectives and today Intel is hiring quality students who have benefited from the improved instruction, curricula and labs.”

In order to attract additional partnerships, with support from USAID, Intel, National Instruments, Pearson and other sponsors, HEEAP has endeavored to move Vietnam’s top technical universities and vocational schools toward international accreditation, including the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET). The Vocational and University Leadership and Innovation Institute (VULII) was launched in 2012 to provide capacity-building programs within the Vietnamese educational system, from ministry officials and university rectors to administrators, academic and professional staff, and engineering faculty leaders preparing the next generation for the engineering workforce.

 “Previously we had strategic goals, but nobody remembers. We imposed those goals from the Rector down to staff,” explains Dr. Dao Khanh Du, Rector of Cao Thang Technical College. “Now they are developed based on a bottom-up approach. Ownership leads to responsibility, and people start to proactively work towards these strategic goals. It is a big success for us.”

Experts talk about the competitiveness of skilled labor

VULII programs, including workshops and coaching HEEAP and ASU Staff, have prepared leadership and faculty to undertake the accreditation process with confidence.

 “In 2014, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) University of Technology became the first Vietnamese university to receive ABET accreditation recognizing two of its programs,” says Dr. Kathy Wigal, ASU Assoc. Director for Curricular Innovation, “and many have sought membership in the ASEAN University Network (AUN).” (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations - ASEAN - is an economic organization of 10 Southeast Asian countries. AUN is its university association.)

To date, more than 400 Vietnamese lecturers have trained at ASU and are now preparing graduation-ready students with the applied and technical communication skills required by multinational corporations. Last year, a cohort of instructors from the Vietnam National University - Ho Chi Minh City system visited Arizona State University the first in series of special projects, the Internet of Things (IoT). Additionally, a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State will bring 44 academic fellows - all high-achieving undergraduate students from Southeast Asia - to Tempe, Arizona, to attend two ASU-hosted institutes as part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s signature program: the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI).

Dr. Do Van Dzung, Rector of HCMC University of Technology and Education, speaks at the conference

“A number of reforms in this university start from ASU. A concrete example is our establishment of School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” says Dr. Do Van Dzung, Rector of HCMC University of Technology and Education. “Also, the implementation of online, mobile and blended learning has created a revolution for the teaching and learning culture in the university”.