Arizona State University is a renowned enterprise university, a learning ecosystem that links industry demands with academic rigor to prepare graduates for work and life. One way that students experience this linkage is through industry-mentored projects. By working side-by-side with an experienced mentor, students get a window into the world of work and a chance to leverage their know-how to create real value for their mentors' companies.
Through the USAID BUILD-IT public-private partnership, ASU and the United States Agency for International Development are helping Vietnamese universities adopt industry-mentored projects into their curriculum. This year, the effort modeled the eProjects Program in six Vietnamese universities. In eProjects, mentors support students to design novel prototypes for industry challenges.
In partnership with Dow Vietnam, ASU offered both professional mentors and ambitious students a rare chance to link up and design solutions for one of the world’s largest chemical companies. Mentor Toan Nguyen and mentee Trang Do said giving and receiving design feedback helped them both grow through eProjects.
Nguyen graduated from university at a time when Vietnamese university programs lacked industry mentoring. He became a successful logistics engineer, spending the last nine years at Dow Vietnam, an American material science solution provider. In April, Nguyen joined eProjects to share his warehouse management expertise with the next generation. Through patient online mentoring and a virtuous circle of design improvements, his team built a customized warehouse management tracking system for him.
“I’m so impressed with the next generation! These programs are transforming these students; they are so confident, collaborative, and fluent in English,” Nguyen said.
Speaking at the eProjects Innovation Showcase, Do shared, “In eProjects, I learned things I never would have learned in my classes. I’m grateful to my mentors for showing us how to build a working prototype.” Do and her teammates went on to win the showcase’s top prizes. Their ingenious innovation points to how industry mentors encourage students to step away from working for grades and toward working for real impact.
In the coming year, ASU will continue to pilot applied project models in Vietnam. In 2021, the fourth cohort of Engineering Projects in Community Service and second cohort of eProjects will launch in Vietnam. By linking learning with insightful industry mentoring, ASU is supporting students around the world to learn to thrive.
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