Over 180 students from six universities gathered in Ho Chi Minh City on April 2nd to share their engineering-based innovations at the USAID BUILD-IT & Dow Vietnam STEM Program: EPICS Final Showcase. The showcase concluded five months of student-led design innovation following the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) curriculum model. EPICS is an internationally recognized service-learning model where students learn by engineering a prototype that they designed to address a social issue. EPICS builds students' technical skills and pushes students to put their technical skills to good use - even before graduation. Teams from Lac Hong University, Da Nang University of Technology and Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology took home top innovation awards for their inventions in smart wheelchair, puncture-proof clothing, and solar dryer technology.
This is the fourth EPICS collaboration between Dow Vietnam, Arizona State University, and USAID. To date, Dow Vietnam has leveraged over $110,000 to provide more than 800 opportunities for students to gain the confidence and capacity to engineer social innovations. Dow Vietnam provided funding for student projects, faculty support, and industry-based mentoring to motivate students to take on Vietnam's engineering-based challenges. Through our combined efforts over the last four years, the EPICS curriculum has reached six universities, engaged over 700 students, and produced over 100 unique prototypes. Sustained collaboration between government, industry, and academia signals their shared vision to integrate project-based learning into the curriculum at pioneering universities. Partner universities are converting EPICS from an extracurricular activity into an elective course. In September 2021, both DUT and CTU will join the ranks of prestigious US universities offering EPICS as a course. The integration of EPICS outside the US is a significant milestone towards further US-Vietnam education collaboration.