Dow Vietnam STEM Program: Engineering Projects

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – On March 16, 2021, USAID BUILD-IT and the Dow Vietnam STEM Program hosted their second Engineering Projects (eProjects) Innovation Showcase at Cao Thang Technical College. The showcase allowed student teams from across Vietnam to demonstrate their industry-mentored prototypes to peers and professionals from across Vietnam. The showcase was abuzz with students, professionals, and academics sharing innovations in plastic recycling, biodegradable chewing gum, and eco-friendly packaging materials.

During the showcase, judges celebrated projects with the most effective solution, teamwork, and presentation. Teams from Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, Da Nang University of Technology, and Ho Chi Minh City of Technology and Education won prizes for innovations in reusing construction painting materials, online platform for plastic waste management and biodegradable chewing gum respectively. Held back-to-back with the Innovation Showcase, six young researchers were honored for their early findings in the Undergraduate Research Initiative - an ongoing research mentoring program where students and faculty leverage research methods to address social challenges.

Over the last semester, eProjects teams developed their prototypes through regular consultation with professional mentors from Dow Vietnam Team. The mentors set out the vision for each project, shared their technical expertise, and met with students to build their prototypes. Since September, teams worked online, on campus, and even at Dow's production plant to build and test their prototypes. During eProjects, the students learned technical communication, team collaboration, and project management. Through patient mentoring, the students developed the soft and technical skills needed to succeed in advanced science and technology careers.

For the fourth consecutive year, USAID BUILD-IT and Dow Vietnam piloted industry-linked applied projects in innovation, entrepreneurship, and research. To date, Dow Vietnam has leveraged over $110,000 to provide more than 800 opportunities to students to gain the confidence and capacity to lead engineering and social innovations. Dow Vietnam is committed to continuing eProjects into 2022. Observing the students' innovations, Mr. Ekkasit Lakkananithiphan, President of Dow Vietnam shared, "Dow aims to be the most innovative, customer-centric, inclusive and sustainable materials science company in the world. We are delighted to collaborate with Vietnam’s leading universities to implement student-led projects and reinforce the university-industry linkages that address local sustainability challenges.”

The USAID BUILD-IT Alliance is a public-private partnership founded to support world-class engineering programs for work-ready graduates in Vietnam. Implemented by Arizona State University, BUILD-IT has leveraged over six million dollars in industry contributions to support its university partners to revamp their curricula, adopt new learning technologies, develop leadership capacity, and achieve international accreditation. Speaking to the showcase attendees, USAID Vietnam’s Acting Mission Director Bradley Bessire shared, "These applied projects demonstrate how the BUILD-IT Alliance links industry expertise with universities’ teaching capacity to give students experiences that develop both the technical and soft skills they’ll need to succeed in Vietnam’s ever more advanced workforce.”

About the eProjects Teams

  1. From Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology mentored by Mr. Nguyen Anh Kiet & Dr. Thinh Ha Quang Ngo:  the team created a unique solution to reuse construction materials.  
  1. From Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education mentored by Mr. Tran Le Minh Hieu & Dr. Hoang Trung Kien created a production process to manufacture biodegradable chewing gum. The prototype gum was available for spectators to feel. The unique chemical structure of the gum made it chewy and still easily breakdown into digestible components after some chewing. 
  1. From Lac Hong University mentored by Ms. Nguyen Huynh Thao Ngan, Ms. Van Dinh Vy Phuong & Mr. Tran Van Thanh: the team has created a new environmentally friendly packaging material. They demo their material as waterproof alternative materials for bags. 
  1. From Industrial University of Ho Chi Minh City mentored by Mr. Toan Nguyen & Mr. Nguyen Duy Khanh: the team created a mobile app to modernize Dow's customer order and tracking system. The app tracked each step of a product’s movement throughout the warehouse. The app and its accompanying sensors allow Dow to move closer to running a smart factory.
  1. From Can Tho University mentored by Mr. Ekkasit (Joe) Lakkananithiphan & Ms. Phuong Thao & Dr. Tran Thanh Hung: the team created a Plastic Waste Compression Machine. The machine impressively compacts and heats plastic into bricks. The working prototype wowed the audience as it compacted plastic bags into a firm plastic brick.
  1. From Da Nang University of Technology mentored by Ms. Uyen Mai & Ms. Stephanie Tran & Dr. Ngo Dinh Thanh: the team created a mobile app for plastic waste management. The app allowed users to track their plastic waste use and estimate their environmental impact.

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