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Institute of Techniques for Special Engineering seeks for breakthroughs in training quality and science research

Institute of Techniques for Special Engineering (ITSE) is a subordinate unit of Le Quy Don Technical University (the University for short), responsible for training post graduate and undergraduate students in defense, bridge and road, airport, special construction, civil and industrial engineering, topography and geoinformatics; the institute also conducts research in related technologies and provides consulting services in engineering.

Since its foundation in 1967, ITSE has gradually expanded and achieved many successes. So far, the institute has trained thousands of engineers, technicians and scientists in military and civil engineering for Vietnam People’s Army (VPA), as well as Cambodian and Laotian defense forces. In wartime and peacetime as well, technical personnel graduated from ITSE always play key roles in construction projects for military purposes and economic development. The institute has also implemented and participated in hundreds of researches and projects on engineering technologies; a lot of them are major programs and initiatives at state and ministerial levels, providing great contributions to military science and technology development and satisfying a wide range of socio-economic demands. Due to its significant success and service, ITSE was awarded with various commendations from the Central Party, Vietnam government and Ministry of National Defense such as: Military Merit Medal first, second and third class; Government Citation and honorable banners in 3 consecutive years 2014, 2015 and 2016; many staff members and subordinate units of the institute also achieved awards from the Ministry of Defense and the University leadership.

A research briefing of the ITSE cadets

In recent years, ITSE leadership has assertively and simultaneously implemented an extensive set of innovative approaches and policies to meet new standards and fulfill its tasks in building the military and national defense.

First, ITSE focuses on developing a capable management and teaching staff to meet long-term requirements in training and research programs. As a highly specialized training and research institute, human resource is a crucial factor in every operation of the unit. Therefore, the institute leadership always lays emphasis on improving the training and research capabilities of its subordinate units and staff members. On perceiving the Resolution 102-NQ/DU on building and improving dependent departments’ working performance and Resolution 118-NQ/DU on improving staff’s foreign language skills, released by the University’s Party Executive Committee, the ITSE Party Executive Committee has drawn up a specialized resolution on building its staff and action plans. According to its specialized resolutions’ goals, by 2020, 10 – 12% of the unit staff will be professors and associate professors, 40 – 45% of the cadres will have doctoral degree and 45% of the teaching staff will be qualified with B2 CEFR in English skills, or sufficient Russian skills to meet requirements of specific professions. To that end, the institute is implementing extensive approaches on planning and developing human resources, closely combining training with assigning cadres and instructors to appropriate positions. In planning long-term personnel organization, ITSE leadership promotes high standards in personnel selection and set priorities for professions that are essential or insufficient in manpower. Notably, a personnel appointment framework was introduced. According to the framework, leadership positions will be assigned by academic degree, teaching titles and specific requirements for each department. These standards have provided a great momentum for cadres and instructors to actively emulate to further their career. In staff training, the role of ITSE science and education council is highly regarded as a crucial asset in enhancing academic quality of teaching departments, it focuses on organizing and providing evaluation for sample and modeled teaching sessions, strictly observes the working outcome of the staff and individuals, and sets it as the basis to assess their annual performance. Also, the institute closely combines future leadership development with enhanced working quality training, focusing on expanding management and teaching staff with high-level academic degree and top-tier expertise in respective majors. Along with on-site training, ITSE has been actively dispatching cadres and instructors to different organizations and units to gain more practical experiences in their major, enhance knowledge in their field of study, further specialize their profession, and participate in postgraduate courses, technology transfer programs and international science conferences. As a result, currently, all staff members at the institute have bachelor degree and above; among them, 38.26% have master degree, 45.88% are doctors of science, 14.11% are professors and associate professors, 4 members have the title of Meritorious Educator, and 5 high-level instructors verified by the Ministry of Defense. They are the core element in enhancing the training and research capabilities of the institute.

Second, ITSE launched different breakthrough reforms in training curriculum and methodology. To meet new requirements introduced by the University (due to the shift from year-based training to credits-based training), which is being transformed into a research university, ITSE has implemented a wide range of reforms in curriculum, introduced new training programs which are more research-oriented, applied innovations in postgraduate training contents, complemented postgraduate training courses with 4+1 program(1), and integrated science research into training activities. Particularly, the institute puts emphasis on making adjustments and additions in subject contents for higher functionality and keeping up with the advancement of modern technologies. Reforms are also applied to training methodology. ITSE courses are now conducted with student-centered principles, further focused on practice to develop real-life working abilities for students. Also, all lesson plans and learning contents are uploaded online, and a test sample bank is completed with a more practical question layout. In addition, qualified and experienced instructors with high-level academic degrees are prioritized to take charge of training sessions. The number of academic activities at department and institute level are also increased to encourage experience and knowledge sharing among cadres and instructors. Besides, to improve self-study abilities and language skills, instructors and students are compelled to register for participating in an academic activity with foreign language at least once a semester. As a result, ITSE’s training quality has significantly improved. The institute won a lot of prizes in engineering and architecture competitions, for instance: 2 first team prizes, 1 second team prize, 1 first individual prize and 4 second individual prizes in Mechanics Olympic, 1 first prize, 2 second prizes and 8 third prizes in Loa Thanh Awards.

Last but not least, ITSE introduced a new mechanism in managing, monitoring and applying technology assets. In this respect, the unit leadership provides more autonomy and self-determination for subordinate departments and staff members, especially heads of research projects. Currently, ITSE has 9 capable research teams, each of them is led by a top-tier expert with high-level academic degrees and impressive academic records. At the same time, team leaders are granted higher legal status, enabling them to actively seek for external financial investment and academic support. Additionally, ITSE has changed the method and procedure of project selection to improve research efficiency and practicality, and also quality evaluation henceforth will be based on the final research product. Research subjects adhere to guidelines issued by the University and the Ministry of National Defense, with a focus on applicability and specialty, especially on material science researches which provide solutions to enhancing the durability of defense structures and island and off-shore infrastructure, as well as on the improved quality of engineering consultant services.

In addition, ITSE has been expanding its cooperation with other universities and related institutes both in Vietnam and abroad such as: Hanoi University of Civil Engineering, University of Transport and Communications, Hanoi University of Mining and Geology, University of Transport Technology; Moscow State University of Civil Engineering, Melbourne University, and Industry Association of Japan. So far, ITSE has conducted and inspected 12 state-level, 27 ministry-level projects, and 54 university-level projects; issued 10 reports on ISI science journals; 46 articles on other respectable journals; 368 articles on domestic science journals; 39 reports in different international science conferences; 82 reports in domestic science conferences; published 42 sets of textbook and training material. There are many projects conducted by its cadres and instructors are currently being applied in defense works such as: “Bearing capacity enhancement solution for defense structures and civil defense infrastructures in Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands”; “Camouflage material solution in modern warfare”; “Quality evaluation methods for road and runway”; and “A research on friction between pile foundation and coral floor and forecast on the stability of structure under sea wave’s pressure.” In conclusion, ITSE determines to expand its cooperation with both domestic and foreign academic institutes to further its research capabilities and technology transfer activities to maintain its position as a leader in special engineering in Vietnam.

In near future, ITSE seeks to attract more investment from Le Quy Don Technical University and Ministry of National Defense to modernize its infrastructure and equipment to elevate its research and training capabilities, especially in specialized research works to fulfill impending tasks in the new stage of building and safeguarding the country.

Snr. Col., Associate Professor, Dr. Vu Ngoc Quang, ITSE Party Committee Secretary

(1) 4+1 program: 4 years of undergraduate training + 1-year master course

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