The Catholic University of America

Aug. 7, 2014

Engineering Dean to Be Honored

  Dean Charles Nguyen

Charles Nguyen, dean of the School of Engineering at The Catholic University of America, will receive the 2014 Asian Heritage Award in Opportunity at the 11th Annual Asian Heritage Awards Gala Nov. 22 at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido.

Nguyen was chosen for the award because of several programs he established in Vietnam, Taiwan, and India for international students who otherwise might not have been able to afford the cost of college.

According to the award citation, the society honored Nguyen for “seizing opportunity from the front lines of devastation in Vietnam to become a prime example of success and achievement,” as well as for his commitment to “seeing that others have the same opportunity to succeed.”

The citation also noted that the dean’s work complements the mission of the Asian Heritage Society’s “BOOSTEM program providing opportunity for our young people to succeed in a rapidly changing global and technological landscape.”

In 2007 Nguyen initiated two programs with universities in Vietnam: a 2+2 agreement in which undergraduates study for two years at their home university and finish their last two years at CUA, and a graduate program that recruits students holding bachelor’s degrees to study at the University for their doctoral degrees.

“As dean of the School of Engineering, I am able to help the less privileged and give them opportunities that they may not have been able to afford otherwise. Opportunities that may change their whole lives,” says Nguyen, “Helping the underprivileged is part of the Catholic faith we strive to teach.”
The engineering school’s enrollment has nearly tripled since his appointment as dean, and continues to grow.

Nguyen has been at CUA for more than 31 years. He began in 1982 as an assistant professor of electrical engineering and was promoted to associate professor in 1987 as well as director of the robotics and control lab, a position he still holds today. In 1992 he was named professor of electrical engineering and computer science and became chair of that department in 1997. Appointed dean in 2001, he is now CUA’s most senior academic dean.

Growing up in Da Nang, Vietnam, during the 1960s, Nguyen says he faced many difficulties. Dodging bombs was a daily occurrence for him and his family. “Typically, every morning we would get up and it would happen that the next house was gone because it was bombarded. Neighbors, gone. I still have nightmares about that,” recalls Nguyen.

Nguyen is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Society for Mechanical Engineers.

Some of Nguyen's research interests include time-varying control systems, control of large space structures, intelligent control, and medical robotics. He is the founding editor of The International Journal of Intelligent Automation and Soft Computing and associate editor of numerous other journals.

“I am very happy and honored with this award, and look forward to receiving it in November with my wife,” says Nguyen.



 The Asian Heritage Society— a nonprofit corporation founded in 2005 — is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Asian Americans and helping develop the leaders of tomorrow. For more information, visit

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