This spring Arizona State University launched an internationally recognized engineering entrepreneurship program at four universities in Vietnam. The Engineering Projects in Community Service pilot program, also known as EPICS, was sponsored by long time ASU industry partner, Dow Chemical, and the United States Agency for International Development. EPICS debuted in Danang, Lac Hong and Ho Chi Minh City to student teams who were invited to design, build and deploy systems to solve engineering-based problems for charities, schools and other not-for-profit organizations. 

In addition to benefiting the community with quality engineering solutions, one of the main goals of EPICS was to engage female students in the STEM fields. Organizers were pleased by the high level of female participation at each school and noted an overall enrollment ratio of one woman to every three students in the program. Even more notable was that three of the four schools in the pilot had female professors leading the program. Women involved in the EPICS program were uniquely identified as Women in Engineering Projects in Community Service participants.   
In June 2018, EPICS culminated in a final showcase competition that included all student projects from each university. ASU had the opportunity to speak with a few of the WEPICS students before the final event to learn a little more about them and their involvement with EPICS.
 
Dinh Thi Trang, Danang University of Science and Technology
 
ASU: What was it that originally inspired you to join EPICS?
 
Trang: I joined EPICS because I wanted to learn from real projects and apply the skills to my everyday life. I’m a third year student as an industrial management major and I want to do quality management. To achieve that, I think I will have to learn a lot from my teachers and, more importantly, take practical courses like EPICS to prepare me for my future career.
 
ASU: What have you learned in the EPICS program?
 
Trang: I have learned soft skills, but more importantly, I have had the opportunity to reach out to project stakeholders and get used to working in a new learning environment.
 
ASU: What did you and your team create for your EPICS project?
 
Trang: Our project is called “Smart Self.” It is a study spaces management system for a university or library. Our project consists of an app installed on a mobile phone with android OS. The app will let users know what space is available in the school's self-study area, help customers find the shortest path to the desired location, and then report back to the library.
 
Le Thi Huong Thinh, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology
 
ASU: Since you joined the EPICS Program, have you been presented with any new opportunities?
 
Thinh: As a third year mechanical engineering student, this program has given me a big opportunity to work with fellow friends to create a new and meaningful product. Our project comes from the creative ideas of every teammate. 
 
ASU: What have you learned in the EPICS program?
 
Thinh: I have learned to improve myself in many aspects academically. I have learned how to brainstorm to make useful things to support the community, to enhance the team spirit and to corporate effectively.
 
ASU: After EPICS, what are your long-term career goals?
 
Thinh: I intend to become an expert in the mechanical engineering field. Before I can reach that destination, I am going to graduate from university and move on my own research. Then I will get a job related to my field to collect knowledge and experiences.
 
Pham Tuong Nhi, Industrial University of Ho Chi Minh City
 
ASU: Tell us a little about yourself and why you joined EPICS.
 
Nhi: I am currently in my final year as a university student studying computer engineering. I joined EPICS because I would like to have more experience in my field and create memories in the process. It is also important to me to contribute to my community and to society. I also like how EPICS helps people realize that women can also participate in the engineering field and do very well. It helps young women who are passionate and eager to participate in this field to have more confidence.
 
ASU: Can you tell us about your EPICS project?
 
Nhi: Our team project is a device to support the visually impaired. The device is designed to help the blind move more easily. It is specific in signaling for them that there are obstructions in front and help them determine the direction to go next. As expected, device is a stick with a neat design and it is easy to use.
  
To learn more about the 2018 WEPICS participants, please view our album on Flickr