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Makerspaces are key to Vietnam’s high-tech future

Makerspaces are key to Vietnam’s high-tech future

U.S. Ambassador Kritenbrink tours Danang University Maker Innovation Space

A new Maker Innovation Space at Danang University, developed in an ongoing partnership between Arizona State University and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), previewed opportunities for hands-on STEM learning during a visit from newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink.

U.S. Ambassador to VIetnam Daniel Dritenbrink

Students at the Maker Innovation Space at Danang University demonstrate their projects to U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink.

The reception, hosted on Nov. 9 amid city-wide Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting activities, showcased the second makerspace completed through the Building University-Industry Learning and Development Through Innovation and Technology (BUILD-IT) Alliance. The first BUILD-IT Maker Innovation Space opened in June in Ho Chi Minh City’s Hi-Tech Park.

“At Intel, we were built by innovators, our culture is based on innovation,” explained Gina Proctor, Director of Intel Vietnam, during the opening.

“Maker spaces get students excited about STEM and foster a generation of exploration, innovation and creativity that inspires and empowers students,” she explained. “Making enables students to embrace project-based learning and fosters critical thinking and collaboration. Eighty percent of the jobs around the world will require technological and critical thinking skills in the next decade. 

“Spaces like this will help Vietnam prepare for the future.”

The BUILD-IT Alliance is a five-year project, launched in 2015, funded by USAID and implemented by ASU. It is designed to train a new generation of Vietnamese engineers to incorporate American, high technology products into the learning and innovation process. These products include software, hardware, 3D fabrication tools, test and instrumentation tools and circuit boards, among other industry-supplied tools.

“The important theme today is partnership,” said Professor Hoi Nguyen, director of the new makerspace.

“The Maker Movement is now in Vietnam and it will take all of us here today to engage and connect the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem to foster the next great inventers and problem solvers for Vietnam. 

Photo of Daniel Kritenbrink speaking to a female student. Caption: Daniel Kritenbrink, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, speaks with a University of Da Nang student about the project she’s working on in the new ASU-USAID Maker Innovation Space.

Daniel Kritenbrink, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, speaks with a University of Danang student about the project she’s working on in the new ASU-USAID Maker Innovation Space.

“The space is just a space unless we bring ideas, collaboration, and collective resources to sustain the creativity here,” he concluded.

The Alliance includes 16 high-tech industry partners, 16 university partners, and the support of the Ministry of Education and Training and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. BUILD-IT is strengthening higher education policy, enabling closer university-private sector collaboration, and modernizing Vietnam’s academic programs in STEM fields.

Industry partners sponsor hack-a-thons and industry design competitions, also contributing expertise and resources, such as project-based curriculum and faculty development activities, to make Maker Spaces possible.   

“ASU’s presence has contributed significantly to strengthening Vietnam’s position with both the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and American companies with a presence in Vietnam,” explained Jeffrey Goss, executive director of ASU’s Office of Global Outreach and Extended Education (GOEE). “Vietnam’s growing capacity to produce innovators and entrepreneurs is rapidly attracting new global business partners, evidenced by the growing number of businesses who are supporting the Alliance.”

To date, milestones that support Vietnam’s technological growth include:

  • More than 1000 Vietnamese engineering faculty members have participated in advanced coursework at ASU in Tempe, Ariz.
  • Nearly 6000 engineering and STEM educators have participated in ASU-conducted workshops in Vietnam.
  • Two Vietnamese engineering degree programs have received international accreditation through ABET, the international accreditation program for science and engineering degree, enabling graduates to compete in an international market.
  • Fifteen Vietnamese engineering degree programs are regionally accredited through the ASEAN University Network (AUN), enabling them to compete in Southeast Asian markets.


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