Student Innovation Fights COVID-19 in Vietnam

Friday, July 24, 2020
Phan Ben, Nguyen Dac Quy, Phan Thi Mai, and Nguyen Van Thuan
USAID BUILD-IT

As the novel coronavirus spread through Danang City, Mai and three of her classmates from the Danang University of Technology gathered at their university’s USAID-supported Maker Innovation Space to discuss how they could leverage their creativity, diversity, and engineering know-how to protect their community from this deadly virus.

“We had to do something to fight COVID-19, now nurses and doctors are using our innovation everyday," said Mai.

The team started their design process by asking doctors to share their challenges running a busy hospital. They learned that busy healthcare workers in Danang and other parts of Vietnam are struggling to safely distribute hand sanitizer to their patients and staff. While industries around Danang began producing hand sanitizer, the team decided to strengthen the community’s COVID-19 response by building a low-cost automatic hand sanitizer dispenser for their local hospital.

The team is building their dispensers.
Team is building their dispensers.
USAID BUILD-IT
Over the next three days, Dr. Ngo Dinh Thanh, Faculty at Danang University of Technology, mentored the team to design and build their prototype, which was tested at Danang City Hospital’s front desk. They collected user feedback and reworked their dispenser to be more responsive. Thrilled by the students’ cost-cutting design, Danang City Hospital ordered fifteen dispensers to station throughout the hospital for both doctors and patients to access. After the students' ingenuity reached national attention, the Da Nang City Department of Health ordered an additional 50 machines to share with hospitals throughout the city. The machines are now available in the COVID outdoor screening areas throughout the city. Proud of their student's community service the Da Nang University of Technology funded an additional 12 machines for the public elementary schools in their area.
The team joins doctors to deliver the dispensers.
The team joins doctors to deliver the dispensers.
USAID BUILD-IT

Dr. Thanh’s ability to help transform his students into public health innovators is a testament to his ability to coach young people to combine their creativity and technical skills to bring real value to their communities. 

Since 2017, Dr. Thanh has collaborated with the USAID Building University-Industry Learning and Development through Innovation and Technology (BUILD-IT) Alliance, implemented by Arizona State University. Through this collaboration he has led three cohorts of the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program and hosted a Global EPICS project with Vietnamese and American students working side-by-side in Danang.  

 “By applying the EPICS process to their designs, we leverage our creativity and expertise to build something meaningful," said Ngo Dinh Thanh.

Dr. Ngo Dinh Thanh is mentoring the team.
Dr. Ngo Dinh Thanh is mentoring the team.
USAID BUILD-IT

To sustain service-learning on campus, Dr. Thanh infused the EPICS service-learning process into the mission of his Maker Student Club. Through the Maker Club, students like Phan Thi Mai have the space, supplies, and guidance they need to quickly respond to their communities' engineering needs. As the Maker Club grows from an after-school activity into a community asset, Dr. Thanh continues to coach his students and peers to focus their designs on community impact and spearhead meaningful innovations in times of crisis.

Last updated: September 22, 2020

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