The Catholic University of America

Aug. 24, 2015

Engineering School Strengthens Ties with Vietnam

  Toan Dinh Nguyen, the Vietnamese vice minister of construction, addresses Vietnamese students and members of the engineering faculty.

The School of Engineering hosted Toan Dinh Nguyen, the Vietnamese vice minister of construction, earlier this month so he could learn about the school’s programs and meet its faculty and students.

Charles Nguyen, dean of the engineering school, said the visit was noteworthy because it marks a deepening of the relationship between Catholic University and Vietnam. Vice Minister Nguyen oversees educational policy in Vietnam regarding construction, architecture, and civil engineering.

For the past eight years, the school’s 2+2 exchange program has allowed engineering students from Vietnam, Taiwan, China, and India to finish their bachelor’s degrees at CUA before enrolling in a master’s program. Currently, Dean Nguyen said, there are 80 students in the 2+2 program.

Dean Nguyen said he is pleased with the success of the students enrolled in the 2+2 program thus far, many of whom have gone on to Ivy League schools for advanced degrees.

“The students stay and get their doctorates here or they go on to other universities like M.I.T., Duke, Princeton — some of the top colleges in the country,” Dean Nguyen said. “That’s the best way to increase our reputation, by producing good students and sending them out to excel at those institutions.”

During his visit to campus, Vice Minister Nguyen gave a presentation to 40 professors, Vietnamese students, and administrators from the school. He spoke of Vietnam’s need for engineers and gave advice to students on how to best prepare for a career there.

Vice Minister Nguyen believes cross-country collaborations like the 2+2 program are beneficial because they offer foreign students opportunities they wouldn’t have in their own country.

“In Vietnam, we are seeing a shortage — we see that our instructors are not as skilled as we see here at CUA,” he said.

By visiting the campus, Vice Minister Nguyen said he hoped to build trust between CUA and Vietnam. In the future, he said he hopes that the program will produce graduates who return to Vietnam. He also hopes to one day send Vietnamese instructors to CUA.

“We’re hoping to see instructors coming here to be trained for methodologies, critical thinking, soft skills for which they can come back and use in Vietnam,” he said. “I’m hoping to see increased exchanges between scholars and faculty members on both sides so that there’s better understanding of the needs of Vietnam among the faculty members so they can perhaps customize the training methods and content for students so we could have a ready-to-use end product once they graduate.”

During his visit to campus, Vice Minister Nguyen also met with faculty members from the School of Architecture and Planning and the Department of Biology, two programs which also have ties to Vietnam.

“For him to be here is good for us because he can help facilitate future educational collaborations,” said Dean Nguyen. “We want to introduce him to what we do to show him who we are.”




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