The researchers kicked off the Mekong - U.S. Partnership Young Scientist Program with a summer exchange experience hosted at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education in Vietnam. The participants attended skill-building workshops and learned how to apply those skills toward research initiatives and technology development to create meaningful impact for the region.
Week 1: Water
Week one focused on the regional challenges related to water and included a 3-day trip to Can Tho and the Mekong Delta. This site visit showcased some projects and solutions related to irrigation for farming and bio-gas generation and included a 2-day tour to explore the economy of the region: floating markets, production of goods using locally sourced materials, and more. Young scientists had opportunities to interact with locals to understand their challenges and start thinking about possible solutions for an applied project.
Week 2: Energy and Researcher Academy
Week two focused on energy and included a research and publishing workshop. The schedule included a workshop on research and publishing scientific articles delivered by Wiley and HCMUTE faculty with great publishing track records. The week ended with site visits to two multinational companies in Vietnam: First Solar and Coca-Cola. The purpose of the visit was to understand what large multinational companies are doing to meet the energy demands in Southeast Asia, as well as learning what kind of workforce skills these companies are looking for in their employees.
Week 3: Sustainability and Innovation
Week three focused on environmental sustainability issues surrounding the lower Mekong region and included a Design Thinking workshop instructed by two facilitators from Thammasat University in Bangkok. The workshop introduced concepts on human-centered design to drive innovation through critical thinking, ideation, rapid prototyping and user feedback. By this week, the applied project teams were already formed and a general project idea/topic was selected. The week ended with a flight to Da Nang, where the fourth week will take place.
Week 4: Projects and Prototyping
Week four took place in Da Nang and focused on taking project ideas from planning to execution. We partnered with Evergreen Labs, a social entrepreneurship consulting firm that develops projects that aim to impact the pressing environmental and social challenges in Vietnam. Evergreen Labs helped to guide participants to refine their problem statement through field trips for inspiration and initial market validation. Participants learned theory about market validation through literature and market research studies, which was then applied directly to their projects. In addition, budget planning and methodology strategies were taught. Classes