For the last three years, I’ve managed programs for the USAID BUILD-IT Alliance. BUILD-IT is a comprehensive university capacity-building project that helps Vietnamese engineering universities adopt the latest mindsets and methods in STEM education. BUILD-IT is an alliance of US industry partners and Vietnamese universities, mentored by Arizona State University, reaching towards their shared goals to see Vietnamese engineering graduates better prepared for work and life. BUILD-IT was announced by President Obama during his 2016 visit to Vietnam.
Project-based learning is an educational pedagogy that emphasizes “learning by doing.” It replaces theoretical readings and exams with real-world projects. Project-based learning helps learners develop both technical and soft skills needed in their careers. Over the past three years, BUILD-IT has piloted a recurring series of project-based Learning competitions and trained faculty to adopt these programs into their curriculum. I’ve managed about twelve programs that have drawn thousands of students to project-based learning. Starting in 2022, our university partners will adapt our project-based learning methods into their curriculum. They will teach some of the same programs taught at Arizona State University, Yale, and Purdue.
MAKER INNOVATION SPACES
Makerspaces are multi-functional workshops with both the space and tools needed for project-based learning. BUILD-IT mobilized its partners to push the maker movement into Vietnamese institutions. I managed USAID BUILD-IT’s venture to build three maker Innovation Spaces at our partner universities. In 2021, a partner university followed our guidance and began building a self-funded makerspace -signaling that the momentum we started took off.
INDUSTRY-LINKED CURRICULUM INTEGRATION
Entering the workforce, graduates need foundational skills in today’s tools and technologies. The most efficient avenue for skills development is integrating tools and technologies into a program’s curriculum. As Vietnam strives to capture opportunities in the digital economy, fast-changing curricula benefit from direct support from industry leaders. Industry-linked learning assures that faculty have the know-how and tools needed to prepare students for today’s STEM careers. Over the past three years, I’ve managed faculty trainings for US technologies like Oracle & AWS.