Dr. Phan Thi Mai Ha (second from left) with students at the EPICS Final Showcase

How a BUILD-IT faculty amplified teaching innovation at her university

Born into a family of educators, Phan Thi Mai Ha dreamt of becoming a lecturer since her childhood. That dream came true when she became a lecturer in the Department of Industrial Systems Engineering at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology. At the beginning of her career, Ha was confident in her engineering expertise, but she struggled to prepare classes where her students could learn both technical and soft skills.

Dr. Phan Thi Mai Ha

“Starting my career, I brought plenty of insights from my field into my classes, but I had little training in pedagogy. I always doubted myself as an educator” - Dr. Phan Thi Mai Ha. 

Wanting to grow confident as a teacher and help her students master their coursework, Ha joined the Master Teacher Training Program led by the USAID Building University-Industry Learning and Development through Innovation and Technology (BUILD-IT) Alliance. By excelling at BUILD-IT's rigorous instructional pedagogy training-of-trainer program, she adopted interactive teaching techniques that transformed her classes from a one-way lecture into a two-way dialogue. Inspired by the science of pedagogy, Ha localized the program’s curriculum, supported it’s online migration, and now leads interactive teaching workshops for her peers both in the classroom and online. Through her persistent efforts, she transformed from a struggling lecturer to a peer mentor who leads professional development at her institution. 

“ My colleagues and I are leading a robust learning environment where faculty from all over Vietnam can come together to share their techniques, ideas, and teaching experiences,”- Dr. Phan Thi Mai Ha.

Dr. Phan Thi Mai Ha (third from left) discusses with fellow lecturers during a training session.

As an advocate for active learning, Ha is leading various student-centered engineering competitions for her university. She applies innovative teaching methods to the pioneering project-based learning programs she leads. She is leading students and fellow faculty to implement engineering design competitions adopted from US engineering schools. Through her guidance, students and faculty from across Vietnam are better able to design lessons and complete projects that develop the work-ready skills students need to succeed.

Her impact on both teaching and learning is a testament to the value added when women engineers take a leading role in their university’s learning outcomes.

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Starting in 2015, BUILD-IT is the third major investment in higher education by USAID and a growing consortium for industry-and academic partners in Vietnam. The BUILD-IT public-private ecosystem is designed to produce graduates who can solve problems and engineer solutions and value for Vietnam’s social and economic development.