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Obama highlights ASU during trip to Vietnam

Cites university's HEEAP program to improve engineering education

US President Barack Obama and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang at a welcoming ceremony
May 23, 2016

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2016, click here.

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 ABETThe Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology accredits college and university programs in the disciplines of applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology at the associate, bachelor, and master degree levels. 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 CorporationDanaher Corporation's brands include Fluke, Tektronix, and Keithley companies..

Later during the president's trip, Secretary of State John Kerry also mentioned ASU's work in Vietnam during a press conference.

"We’re also working together, excitingly, in the academic arena," Kerry said. "And I can't emphasize how key that is in terms of transformational long-term impact of a relationship.  The Institute of International Education, Arizona State University, Harvard Medical School, the University of Hawaii all have partnerships with institutions in Vietnam, several involving participation by the private sector.  And tomorrow, I will have the privilege of launching the formal launch of Fulbright University Vietnam, which will be a full-fledged, non-profit and totally academically free institution.” 

Obama's mention of ASU came 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.

Top photo: President Barack Obama and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang review the honor guard during the arrival ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Monday. Obama is on a weeklong trip to Asia as part of his pivot to Asia, which is designed to boost economic and security cooperation. Official White House photo by Pete Souza

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