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Ho Chi Minh City university shortlisted for prestigious higher education awards

The shortlist for the 2020 Times Higher Education Awards Asia (THE Awards Asia 2020) was announced on Wednesday, with Ho Chi Minh City Open University being a candidate.

Ho Chi Minh City Open University is one of more than 60 higher education institutions from nearly 30 countries and territories across Asia to have been shortlisted this year, and the only Vietnamese university on the list.

THE Awards Asia 2020 has ten award categories, which is twice as many as last year’s.

Ho Chi Minh City Open University was nominated in the category of Teaching and Learning Strategy of the Year with seven other candidates.

Last year’s winner in this category was Yonsei University from South Korea.

The other nine categories include Excellence and Innovation in the Arts, International Strategy of the Year, Student Recruitment Campaign of the Year, Regional or Societal Impact Award, THE DataPoints Merit Award, Technological Innovation of the Year, Workplace of the Year, Outstanding Support for Students, and Outstanding Leadership and Management Team.

THE Awards Asia was launched last year to celebrate the achievements and the huge contributions of universities across the continent, building on the success of THE’s long-running UK-focused awards, dubbed the “Oscars of higher education.”

This year’s virtual awards ceremony will be held in November.

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Ho Chi Minh City university joins telecoms behemoth Viettel in 5G chip research

One Ho Chi Minh City-based university has partnered with a local technological corporation in an ambitious effort to create their own 5G integrated circuits, or 5G chipsets.

The University of Technology (UT) under the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City signed a collaboration agreement with Viettel High Technology Industries Corporation (VHT) —  the key research and production unit of military-run telecoms giant Viettel — for researching and developing integrated circuits used for 5th-generation mobile networks.

Under the agreement, the two sides will collaborate closely on electronics and telecommunications, including the research and development of integrated circuits for 5G, training and developing human resources, and putting the new technological solutions into operation.

Both sides promised to share experience and industrial knowledge regularly and jointly deal with potential issues in training, scientific research, and technology transfer.

As the first part of the collaboration agreement, two sides signed a contract under which UT would provide VHT with consultation services and the design for the 5G transceiver chip in a 14-month period.

VHT, in turn, hopes to accelerate scientific research into technology at the university through the collaboration agreement by commercializing the fruit from its research results.

According to Nguyen Trung Kien, director of the  VHT’s Viettel IC Design Center, the company decided to partner with UT because of its research team whose members are excellent at developing integrated circuits.

“The university’s team of engineers have got many outstanding achievements for the last many years, including some of their best products such as DVB-T — a terrestrial digital TV channel receiver chip — the power amplifier IC, the low noise amplifier (LNA), and mmWave bands, among others relating to integrated circuits,” Kien said.

Kien also expressed his expectation that VHT would have a long-term collaborative relation with UT in order to not only work on the 5G chipsets but also expand the scope of their cooperation to other sectors of 5G technology, the Internet of things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI).

A member of the research team at the University of Technology under Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City shows a piece of research equipment to Viettel representatives. Photo: Dieu Linh / Tuoi Tre

A member of the research team at the University of Technology under the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City shows a piece of research equipment to Viettel representatives. Photo: Dieu Linh / Tuoi Tre

Designing and producing integrated circuits for the 5G network are considered an important step for Viettel in its strategy to fully master the technologies of the 5G wireless network system, according to VHT general director Nguyen Vu Ha.

Viettel has set a goal of creating a ‘made in Vietnam’ 5G chipset with decisiveness and commitment, he stressed.

To realize the goal, apart from connecting with international companies for technology transfers, Viettel also plans to form their own domestic pool of experts in chip manufacturing and scientists from Vietnamese universities.

Hanoi-based Viettel Group is the largest telecommunication service provider in Vietnam, operated by the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense.

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Vietnam launches elite competition to find top digital transformation solutions

The Viet Solutions 2020 competition, a hunt for Vietnam’s top technological solutions hosted by the Vietnam Ministry of Information and Communications, kicked off on Wednesday in Hanoi.

The event, organized in partnership with military-run telecoms group Viettel, aims to find top-tier digital solutions for individuals, enterprises, and businesses all over the world.

The competition is open to any and all entrants, regardless of nationality, capable of innovative products or applications that can be applied to an array of sectors, such as game content, music, video, news, multimedia, and utilities.

Contestants are also able to submit solutions to existing problems in ealthcare, education, finance and banking, agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, environmental resources, and industrial manufacturing.

Organizers said the competition is intended to facilitate connections between national regulators, large-scale enterprises, and creators with ideas to solve complex social problems.

Viet Solutions 2020 is currently the largest innovation competition in Vietnam, awarding cash prizes as well as non-cash prizes in the form of opportunities for cooperation following the contest.

“Vietnam has a considerable advantage in digital transformation thanks to a large number of telecom companies and a powerful information technology sector,” said Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung at the launch event.

“It’s time for us to take the chance to make our nation take off and to elevate the nation’s rank in the field.

“The solutions facilitating digital transformation will focus on developing platforms, especially Vietnamese platforms.

“One digital transition platform would address a common problem for millions of people and thousands of companies.”

The minister also stressed that data is now considered valuable material, so “it must be stored in Vietnam and by Vietnamese platforms.”

Accordingly, Hung’s expectation is that Viet Solutions 2020 will not only help to find innovative solutions to Vietnamese problems but serve as an answer to similar global questions.

Cash prizes of VND200 million (US$8,670), VND100 million ($4,330), and VND50 million ($2,170) will be awarded respectively to the first-place, second-place, and third-place finishers.

Apart from the cash prizes, the winning teams would have opportunities to sign contracts with Viettel to commercialize their products and get up to 75 percent of the generated revenue.

Viettel said it is committed to fully sponsoring the three winning teams to take part in C1 Start-up Cup competition in the U.S. – a contest with awards worth a total of $50,000, or to partake in the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020 in Barcelona, Spain.

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Vietnamese teens create novel respirator against coronavirus

With the goal of making a comfortable device that can prevent the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while allowing the wearer to maintain social interactions, two Vietnamese students have successfully created the initial prototype for a new-age respirator.

The device was introduced by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) at a workshop jointly held with the Central Institute of Economic Management (CIEM) in Hanoi on Friday last week.

Listed among the UNDP’s category of grassroots and social innovations, the portable device impressed audiences at the workshop, which focused on Vietnam’s inclusive innovation policy, particularly strategies for science, technology, and innovation.

The powered air-purifying respirator ‘Vihelm’ — an abbreviation for ‘Vietnamese helmet’ — was created by Do Trong Minh Duc, 16, a student at the Florida-based private K-12 school Montverde Academy, and Tran Nguyen Khanh An, 14, a student at the Hanoi Academy Bilingual International School in the Vietnamese capital city.

Vihelm is a medical respirator built as a portable device that can help the wearer self-quarantine while going about their daily life.

The idea behind Vihelm is that wearers can enjoy the freedom of not being put in mandatory 14-day quarantine required for anyone entering Vietnam from abroad.

Duc and An came up with the idea based off requests from their mentors who asked students to create a respirator that not only prevents the spread of COVID-19 but also helps people remain productive while undergoing quarantine in case the pandemic continues to linger.

Duc is one of several under-18 overseas students who was repatriated from the U.S. to avoid the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to support from the Vietnamese government.

The second-generation Vihelm respirator, with a weight of 0.72 kilograms, is seen in a supplied photo.

The second-generation Vihelm respirator, weighing 0.72 kilograms, is seen in a supplied photo.

The battery-powered respirator was designed based on the structure of existing powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR), which meet globally recognized standards and provide wearers with protection 100 times safer than N99 face masks.

One downside of the PAPR, however, is that it is very difficult to wear for extended periods as the wearer cannot scratch their head or face if they feel itchy, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which cites such reasons for the limited implementation of the PAPR in real-life disease prevention.

To address those drawbacks, An and Duc added many components including an air tube, helmet straps, elastic sealing rings, IR glass, a fan, and a glove inside.

The glove is similar to the Gloves Box designs seen in laboratories to support handling the face and head such as scratching, combined with integrated food compartments, according to a promotional video for the product.

Apart from those components, Vihelm also has head-scratch pockets on top of the helmet, which the wearers can use to scratch their heads when they are wearing it for prolonged amounts of time.

Thanks to the innovation, Vihelm users can work continuously for up to four hours without worrying about overheating or itching.

They can even feed themselves with the food to be placed in advance inside the helmet’s food compartment.

Do Trong Minh Duc (second right) and Tran Nguyen Khanh An (second left) with two experts of innovation from UNDP Vietnam at agency’s headquarters in Hanoi, July 3, 2020 in a supplied photo.

Do Trong Minh Duc (second right) and Tran Nguyen Khanh An (second left) pose with two experts on innovation from UNDP Vietnam at the agency’s headquarters in Hanoi, July 3, 2020 in a supplied photo.

The respirator can protect the wearer from pathogens with a maximum efficiency of 99.9 percent, according to the results of tests conducted by product developers.

The two teenage inventors are improving the device in order to achieve a final model suitable for commercial use.

The Vihelm has been patented and financially invested in by their families from the stage of concept development and design to the launch of the first prototype. The duo is also seeing to attract additional investors.

The two students behind the helmet have registered to compete at the 5th International Invention Innovation Competition in Canada (iCAN 2020), which is organized by the Toronto International Society of Innovation & Advanced Skills (TISIAS).

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