For the last three years, I’ve held a leading role in Vietnam’s USAID BUILD-IT Alliance. BUILD-IT usher me into the fast-paced world of global project implementation, strategy and proposal management, public diplomacy, and the power of public-private partnerships. We leveraged multi-million-dollar USAID contributions to pilot 15 innovation competitions engaging +3,000 university students and +300 faculty, build three maker spaces across Vietnam, and integrate AWS, Oracle, Autodesk, and Rockwell Automation technologies into the curriculum at six universities.
WHAT IS BUILD-IT?
The USAID BUILD-IT Alliance is a comprehensive university capacity-building project, implemented by Arizona State University, in Vietnam 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. Within BUILD-IT I oversee Applied Projects, Makerspaces, and Industry-linked Learning Certificates.
INDUSTRY-LINKED APPLIED PROJECTS
Industry-linked applied projects push learning by doing to learning by doing professional challenges. It replaces theoretical readings and exams with projects that industry value. Learners develop technical, soft, career skills they’ll need through work and life. Over the past three years, BUILD-IT aligned industry partners such as Dow Chemical, Oracle, Amazon Web Services, and Rockwell Automation to sponsor pilot 15 innovation competitions engaging +3,000 university students and +300 faculty. These competitions include nationwide AWS hackathons, Rockwell Automation competitions, and ASU’s signature EPICS and eProjects Programs. These programs support each partners’ workforce pipeline and social missions. Starting in 2022, our university partners will adapt our pilot competitions into their curriculum to sustain these industry-linked programs.
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. Through 2019, I oversaw a $120K makerspace construction sub-contract, negotiated equipment, and license donations to give thousands of students access to professional engineering tools. In 2021, a partner university followed our guidance and began building a self-funded makerspace – signaling that the momentum we started took off within public universities.
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 professional certifications 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. I’ve worked with industry partners to integrate AWS, Oracle, Autodesk, and Rockwell Automation certifications and lab equipment donations into the curriculum.
STORYTELLING AND IMPACT
To get students, sponsors, and diplomats excited about BUILD-IT’s impact, I’ve directed communication strategy, processes, and a direct report to produce bi-lingual television, press releases, playbooks, social posts, and support a revamped project website for America and Vietnam audiences. With our stories appearing on USAID’s website, ASU’s official Website, and through Facebook. We’ve been able to promote our impact and encourage women in STEM.