AES Future Energy Scholarship recipient wins with lung disease detection project to support COVID-19 prevention

Trinh Thanh Tung, a student at the Institute of Electronics and Telecommunications, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, who has been awarded the AES Future Energy Scholarship four times, has been honored for his SAFELUNG project, which provides a toolkit to help warn of pneumonia and provides applications to support screening of people infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Tung and SAFELUNG were named among the top four projects in the northern region at the Vietnam Social Innovation Challenge (VSIC) 2020. The technology behind the project was also featured in a scientific research article for the ICISN 2021 conference.

For Tung, the AES Future Energy Scholarship means the chance to continue his research and roll-out SAFELUNG to assist in Vietnam’s fight against COVID-19.

Trinh Thanh Tung

Congratulating Tung on his achievement, David Stone, President of AES Vietnam and Managing Director and CEO of AES Mong Duong Power Company Limited, said, “We at AES Vietnam are proud of being able to accompany and help advance the life-saving SAFELUNG project, meaningfully contributing to the anti-COVID efforts in Vietnam as well as Tung’s career, through the AES Future Energy Scholarship.”

Tung, from a farming family in Quang Ninh Province, originally applied for the scholarship to help ease the burden of tuition and gain valuable skills to further his career. As countries around the world battle the COVID-19 pandemic, Tung decided to help prevention measures right here in Vietnam, by designing and developing a technology product that would help detect signs of the lung sound signals at an early stage, and in so doing improve monitoring of patients and chances for successful treatment.

“The initial idea came from the beginning of 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic began to appear in Vietnam, students had to study at home. At that time, many technology products were available at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology,” Tung said. The idea for the project is based on lung sound signals, which help distinguish between healthy and sick people. Tung began sketching a diagram, including a stethoscope to receive signals from patients, which are passed through an amplifier and then transmitted to a computer. The computer processes the signals and classifies them as positive or negative results.

This technology can issue warnings of pneumonia or lung ailments by using machine learning combined with signal processing, alerting the user through a smartphone app. “Currently, we mainly check body temperature [to screen for COVID-19]. Many people, however, suffer fever after becoming seriously sick, so this screening is not really effective. Lung manifestations in the early stages are very clear. Therefore, research in lung sound signal processing is a more optimal screening support solution,” Tung explained.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Tung and his project, with many challenges and obstacles along the development journey. “I formed a new team of researchers and restarted all activities. We begin to search and solve the outstanding problems, to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each research method to find the most optimal method and the most suitable one.”

“We are expecting more investors and to recuit more researchers with good knowledge in this field to help us continue the project. I hope we will be financed and supported to put the research of lung sound signal processing into practical use,” Tung said.

Tung and his team

Since 2017, AES Mong Duong, in partnership with the Centre for Education Development, has presented Future Energy Scholarships to outstanding students from Quang Ninh and northern provinces majoring in electricity at Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Electric Power University and and Vietnam National University - University of Science. The scholarships, worth US$600 each, aim to invest in education, training, and preparing a high-tech workforce for Vietnam’s energy sector amid the country's increasing electricity demand. The selected students will not only receive financial support but will also be able to participate in soft skills and English training, volunteer activities, community support, and site visits to AES Mong Duong plant.

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