National Engineers Week: A short course in Hanoi

National Engineers Week is February 17-23, with more than 70 engineering, education and cultural societies and more than 50 corporations and government agencies involved in events and activities to celebrate the profession and promote STEM education around the nation. Ranked #3 in the nation among public engineering programs offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees, according to U.S. News & World Report 2019, and a top contributor of talent to Silicon Valley, San Jose State University will be celebrating the faculty, students and programs that make up our Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering in a series of stories on our Newsroom and social media channels. The College of Engineering offers 13 engineering disciplines with 7,400 students enrolled and works closely with its Engineering Industry Advisory Council to ensure the curriculum and learning experiences offered to its students align with workforce needs.

Assistant Professor Matthew Leineweber had a busy winter break. He taught a course on biomedical engineering. In Hanoi. And took the time to blog about his adventures for his SJSU students, colleagues, friends and family in the United States.

“This was my first trip to Vietnam (and Asia in general) so everything was new, and I loved that,” he said weeks after returning to SJSU. “The people stand out the most of all — everybody was incredibly friendly and welcoming.”

Leineweber traveled to Vietnam to teach at what he referred to as the oldest technical university in the country, the Hanoi University of Science and Technology (HUST). It is known locally as Bach Khoa which translates to 100 faculty. SJSU has long had a partnership with the Hanoi institution — Chair of Electrical Engineering Thuy Le has served as a guest professor there many times. Faculty from Bach Khoa visited SJSU last year and met with chair of SJSU’s Biomedical Engineering (BME) program, Dr. Guna Selvaduray, as they worked on developing a new Advance Program in BME that is taught in English.

“They like to bring ‘Western’ faculty to teach short courses a couple times per year,” Leineweber said. “They extended the invitation to our department during the visit and I jumped at the opportunity.”

A second-year faculty member in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering and an expert in biomechanics, Leineweber jumped at the opportunity to travel and teach in Vietnam. His research involves evaluating how able-bodied individuals and people with physical impairments move, using the information gathered to design more effective assistive devices.

Prof Leineweber, far right, enjoys a meal in Nha Trang, Vietnam with SJSU student Hoang Nguyen and Nguyen's family.

Prof Leineweber, far right, enjoys a meal in Nha Trang, Vietnam with SJSU student Hoang Nguyen and Nguyen’s family.

He arrived on December 29 for his first meal of pho and for a few days of sightseeing before he met his students for the first time on January 2. Leineweber found similarities between the Vietnamese campus and SJSU–both are set in the middle of their cities and serve 30,000+ students. But Bach khoa’s square footage is half that of San Jose’s campus. Leineweber’s course assistant Dr. Hung Viet, who is a lecturer at Bach Khoa, showed him around the university and helped with logistics.

“I am bringing back an appreciation for how students are the same worldwide,” Leineweber said, adding that he hopes to travel back to Vietnam frequently to see more of how teaching is done there, what research they are conducting and get ideas to bring back.

For more on his experience, including a trip to a village known for pottery, a cooking class and a visit to Ho Chi Minh City where he met up with two SJSU master’s students Hoang Nguyen and Shawn Bhinder, and more on his class visit his site: https://sites.google.com/sjsu.edu/profleinewebergoestohanoi.