To fulfill the demand for a high-skilled workforce, higher education institutions in Vietnam have taken bold steps to improve the quality and relevancy of their programs. Curriculum has evolved, developing from traditional methods of teaching to a more hands-on learning approach. Students now have opportunities to enroll in project-based courses, and work on real-life projects, with input, direction and mentorship from industry partners. 

Although project-based learning has been rapidly incorporated into the Vietnamese education structure, as both formal curriculum and co-curricular experiences, it would not be able to achieve its highest potential without a space for students to practice their learnings.

BUILD-IT-sponsored Maker Innovation Spaces (MIS) have been offering a multi-disciplinary space where tools from different engineering disciplines are available in one space in order to foster the practice of project-based learning and encourage cross-functional collaboration. These collaboration efforts will strengthen students’ professional and soft-skills as they work together not only to complete an assignment, but also to journey through a complex and open-ended process as a team.

On a sunny day in March 2019, during a visit to the MIS inside Saigon Hi-Tech Park, we had a chance to meet Ha Thai Vuong, a new graduate from Ho Chi Minh University of Technology, and a ‘resident’ at the MIS. Vuong was willing to share his experience with us, and how he was introduced to the space by his current employer, Mr. Dan Tong, Founder & Director of Kodimo Co

Vuong shared, “A lot of my work at Kodimo Co. and self-learning could not be smoothly conducted and completed without machines, tools and materials found at the MIS. I spend a lot of time in this space to research, design, develop and improve my products. For example, this mainboard here is cut by this CNC laser cutting machine, and the outlook of this prototype is completed by this 3D printer.” 

“Before utilizing the MIS, introducing a prototype could cost around 100 million Vietnam Dong ($4,300 USD). Since factories cannot take orders for only one product, the business would have to equip itself with an expensive mold-making machine. But now, this 3D printer has helped to achieve cost-effectiveness, together with a short turn around time and high quality outcomes,” Vuong added. 

Through utilizing the MIS and its offerings to continuously develop and improve his product features, Vuong was able to expand his experiences to real-life product design and production. Mr. Dan Tong, Founder & Director of Kodimo Co, shared, “It is crucial that students, like Vuong, have opportunities to learn the actual production process and to understand the up-to-date technical knowledge and the soft-skills needed for better communication between the suppliers and factories.”

Laser cutting machine at MIS

The mainboard is cut by the CNC laser cutting machine.

“Having this chance to work together with Mr. Dan is amazing. He has been guiding me from day-one through the whole process, and connecting me with great professionals in this field. I have been learning and will continue to evolve,” Vuong complimented.

Things have changed since the first time Vuong visited the MIS and started working at Kodimo Co. Mr. Dan Tong shared,

“In the past, it took a great amount of time for Vuong to recall the knowledge he had learned at university. Since learning is not always complemented with practicing, the real use of this knowledge is not clearly understood to students. It's very easy for them to ignore or forget what they learned.”

Even after graduating, Vuong continues to actively learn, be inspired, and continue his quest of self-knowledge, taking delight in mentoring the younger students that visit the MIS in Ho Chi Minh City.

With the third grand opening of a Maker Innovation Space at Can Tho University in April 2019, it is promising that we will see more successful cases like Ha Thai Vuong, where good ideas and innovations come to life that help to better serve the community.

MIS in Ho Chi Minh City

Vuong assists some of the younger students that visit the MIS at Saigon Hi-Tech Park.

BUILD-IT sponsored Maker Innovation Spaces are now open throughout Vietnam:

  • Saigon Hi-Tech Park
    Maker Innovation Space, District 9, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • FabLab
    Maker Innovation Space, 41 Le Duan Street, Hai Chau District, Da Nang, Vietnam
  • Can Tho University
    Marker Innovation Space, Ba Thang Hai Street, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho, Vietnam