Release Date: February 20, 2008
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- As part of a national program to help internationalize higher education in that country, one of Vietnam's most competitive universities has entered into a partnership with the University at Buffalo to begin teaching UB's undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum to its own students next fall.
Under the Vietnamese government program, 14 of Vietnam's leading universities are eligible to apply for support from Vietnam's Ministry of Education and Technology to model specific degree programs after U.S. programs chosen from across the disciplines.
Vietnam selected only UB's program to model in mechanical engineering.
Under the program, UB's Vietnamese partner is the Thai Nguyen University of Technology (TNUT), located about 40 miles northwest of Hanoi. TNUT currently enrolls approximately 12,000 students, mostly in science or technical degree programs.
"Out of the 350 or so accredited mechanical engineering programs in the U.S., the Vietnamese government has chosen to model its program after ours," said D. Joseph Mook, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and UB's primary contact with the Vietnamese government. "It's a very welcome testimonial to the quality of our mechanical engineering program."
Last week, a seven-person delegation from the Vietnamese government and TNUT, led by Phan Quang The, Ph.D., its vice rector for academic affairs, and including the university's rector, Nguyen Dang Binh, visited UB to launch the partnership.
They observed classes and laboratory sessions, collected textbooks and curricular materials and met with UB President John B. Simpson; Stephen C. Dunnett, vice provost for international education; Harvey G. Stenger, Jr., dean of UB Engineering, and other officials and faculty from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
"They want to teach our mechanical engineering program on their campus in English, as we teach it," said Mook. "They plan to copy both the content and the academic style of teaching to the fullest extent possible."
TNUT faculty will visit UB for extended periods to observe and interact with UB faculty and students while UB faculty will, in turn, travel to TNUT to help advise faculty on developing the program and to review their progress. Some UB faculty also will teach in Vietnam.
Mook said the partnership will be mutually beneficial.
"Currently, we have about 30 students from Vietnam on campus," he said. "UB's goal is to open a bigger pipeline for their students here. Vietnam's ministry of education will fund 15,000 graduate students in foreign degree programs over the next decade and we'd like to compete for the best and the brightest."
Mook added that UB's longstanding interest in international education is now being mirrored at all U.S. institutions of higher education.
"Many schools are desperately trying to increase international enrollments, which is critical to success in many disciplines," he said. "International experience is just as important to our students. We need to educate our students as to how to best compete and win on the world stage. One way to do that is to make our own students more knowledgeable about the rest of the world."
Mook added that the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering also is eager to establish new study abroad opportunities for UB students in Vietnam.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Technology will provide TNUT with funding to build learning and teaching facilities to the same standards required by UB's curriculum and to support the exchange of personnel between the two departments, he said.
UB also will be assisting TNUT's efforts to gain accreditation from the American Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), which accredits eight programs at UB, including mechanical and aerospace engineering.
In the future, the program also may involve an exchange program for students between the two campuses.
The partnership was initiated with the help of the Institute of International Education, the largest organization supporting international education in the U.S.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system that is its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.