ASU helps launch makerspace to drive innovation, creativity in Vietnam

June 16, 2017

Arizona State University continues to foster Vietnamese STEM innovation and skill-building with the opening of the Maker Innovation Space in Ho Chi Minh City’s Saigon Hi-Tech Park.

Launched on June 8, the Maker Innovation Space is part of the Building University-Industry Learning and Develop through Innovation and Technology program known as BUILD-IT. This $10.8 million project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development, brings academia, industry and government together to invest in a dynamic ecosystem for STEM innovation in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo of large group of people posing at the launch of the Maker Innovation Space in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Arizona State University helped launch the Maker Innovation Space in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, as part of the Building University-Industry Learning and Develop through Innovation and Technology program known as BUILD-IT, which brings academia, industry and government together to invest in a dynamic ecosystem for STEM innovation in Vietnam. Photographer: Quynh Giao Download Full Image

The opening of the Maker Innovation space is an important part of the program to help improve applied curricula and advance innovation and entrepreneurship in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Today, on behalf of the management board of Saigon Hi-Tech Park, I would like to express my happiness and appreciation to USAID, BUILD-IT and Arizona State University, who chose SHTP as one of two sites in Vietnam to build the Maker Innovation Space,” said Le Hoai Quoc, president of Saigon Hi-Tech Park. “This takes a very important part to boost the making and innovation activities of students as well as startup projects. Being prepared with the equipment in the Maker Innovation Space, in a short period of time, young people can design, innovate and make their innovative ideas [into] real products.”

The space provides resources for faculty and students in the many universities near Saigon Hi-Tech Park to access machinery and materials for projects, courses, workshops, entrepreneurial development and industry-led student competitions.

“The Maker Innovation Space will be a place for university students to design, create, prototype, and invent products and services through a variety of entrepreneurial and curricular platforms being introduced through the BUILD IT Alliance,” said Jeffrey Goss, associate vice provost for Southeast Asia Programs at ASU and executive director of Global Outreach and Extended Education. “We will partner with industry, local community based organizations, and university partners to launch service oriented programs, such as Engineering Programs in Community Service (EPICS), industry-sponsored eProjects, hackathons, design thinking competitions, and senior design capstone projects.“

These tools and programs will better prepare Vietnamese graduates to meet the needs and capabilities of industry.

At the launch, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius said innovation is key to continuing Vietnam’s growing economy.

“The United States promotes innovation through a partnership between academia, the private sector and the government,” Osius said. “Linkages between these three partners form an environment that allows creativity and innovation to take root, and ultimately to power the economy. This system has helped to make America the world’s innovation leader. I see the beginning of that here in Vietnam.”

ASU has been an active part of recent STEM innovation initiatives in Vietnam, including the 2017 STEM Conference hosted by Arizona State University’s Higher Engineering Education Alliance Program and BUILD-IT, the Women in STEM Leadership Program, the Vietnam Engineering Education Conference, and the university invited Vietnamese faculty to campus to learn more about the emerging field of Internet of Things with Intel.  

Monique Clement

Lead communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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Revved up: ASU race car crew ready to impress at international competition

June 16, 2017

A confident Arizona State University team is gearing up for what is widely considered the toughest international student automotive design and performance competition.

About 30 members of ASU’s chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers are planning to make the trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, for the 2017 Formula SAE event June 21-24.

Those students are about half the number of the chapter’s members who have been working for much of the past year on the race car that will be put to the test against about 80 other teams from colleges and universities throughout the United States and several other countries.

“We have been designing, engineering and building almost nonstop since last June,” said Troy Buhr, the Formula SAE team captain who graduated this spring with a mechanical engineering degree from ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“We’ve had workshop days just about every Saturday, and in the past two months we have been in the shop almost every day,” he said.

Refined design and cool features

What the sustained effort has wrought is stoking Buhr’s optimism about the team’s prospects for success at the Formula SAE competition.

He notes that this is the third straight year the SAE chapter has produced a brand-new race car from start to finish — the first time that has been done by the student organization.

The trend had been for the ASU teams to build a new car about every five years. So designing and assembling new cars in three consecutive years “is a huge accomplishment because it shows we are building a strong foundation of teamwork and using the new knowledge we’ve gained year to year,” Buhr said.

Equally as significant, the 2017 car is the first in the chapter’s more than 25-year history to have a full package of aerodynamic features, highlighted by front and rear wings on the vehicle.

“This shows our design skills are maturing,” Buhr said. “Full aerodynamics packages create more downforce, which enables cars to go through corners faster. Plus, it makes the car more closely resemble a Formula One race car.”

Such a resemblance, he adds, gives the car a “cooler” look that’s “more professional and less like a go-kart."

The new race car also sports 10-inch wheels instead of the 13-inch wheels used in years past. The new wheels, along with a decrease in the size and weight of other components, should enable the vehicle to perform more efficiently.

Teams challenged to demonstrate multiple skills

At the competition, cars are evaluated through highly detailed technical inspections and cost analysis. Teams must submit an in-depth evaluation of the fundamental engineering principles that guided the design and building of the car.

There’s also a sales presentation that requires teams to make the business case for how mass production of their vehicle could be a profitable venture.

On the track, cars are judged on their proficiency in acceleration, braking, general driving stability, overall efficiency and endurance. They must be driven on an autocross run, a timed competition requiring drivers to navigate a track designed to test the vehicle’s responsiveness and road-handling capabilities.

“The idea is to test every aspect of a team’s engineering and teamwork skills,” Buhr said.

Just getting into the competition requires a test of the team’s fundraising skills. The cost of producing the race car amounted to about $30,000, and then there was the $2,250 registration fee to enter the Formula SAE event.

To cover costs, the team launched a crowdfunding campaign and secured industry sponsorship and other support from dozens of companies, including Ford, AEI Fabrication, Industrial Metal Supply, Solidworks and PPE Engineering.

“All of these challenges are what makes this a great club,” Buhr said. “The competition forces us to apply the engineering knowledge that we are learning in class to actually creating a high-performance vehicle.”

The project management, collaborative labor, financing and other aspects of the endeavor “are training our members for work in industry,” said Buhr, who will soon begin a job with Ford Motor Company in Michigan.

Preparing to make a big splash

“What’s really cool is that we’re not just an engineering team,” said the team’s industry partnership manager, Robert Tichy. “We want to be an engineering organization that pulls in students with diverse talents from several schools.”

Tichy notes that the team’s crowdfunding effort was aided this year by members who are pursuing degrees in business and communications fields. They helped with advertising for the fundraising campaign.

The team is looking to add journalism and art students in the near future to benefit from their particular skills, he said.

 “Above all else, our primary goal is to develop the technical, professional and communication skills of our members,” Buhr said.

Right up at No. 2 on the SAE chapter’s list of goals this year is boosting the team’s reputation among its peers by placing within the top 25 among the formidable contenders it will face at the upcoming Formula SAE competition.

“Our aerodynamics package really sets a new standard for our team,” Tichy said. “No one can count ASU out, and I think we’re going to make a big splash in Lincoln. I’m looking forward to seeing heads turn as we perform.”

Top photo: Members of the ASU chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers and their supporters gathered recently for the unveiling of a new race car equipped with aerodynamic features designed to boost the vehicle’s performance. Photo by Pete Zrioka/ASU 

Joe Kullman

Science writer , Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering