Trang Nguyen and 21 other students arrived at Portland State University this July as part of the second wave of the Intel Vietnam Scholars Program. She and the other Vietnamese students know they will have to live up to high expectations.
Last year's scholars finished the first year with nearly all A's and a reputation for setting the curve in their engineering classes. All 28 of those scholars are now working as interns at Intel's new factory in Ho Chi Minh City and plan to return to PSU in the fall to complete their Bachelor of Science degrees. Khoa Nguyen (pronounced Win) is another new Intel Scholar who arrived this month. He says the first group "put pressure on us" to match their success. "But I'm very confident."
The first group's success convinced Intel Corp. to continue the program for a second year, investing a total of $4.5 million to train new leaders for the new plant in Vietnam. "Faculty have been very excited to work with these students," said Marcia Fischer, assistant dean for enrollment and outreach in the engineering college. "They have been not just bright and hard working but contributing to class."
Intel and PSU welcomed the 2010 Intel Vietnam Scholars to campus at a reception at the Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer Science. They were greeted by Robin Martin, vice president of Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group, and Renjeng Su, dean of PSU's engineering college.
Hundreds of Vietnamese students applied for the two-year scholarship, which covers full non-resident tuition and fees, room and board, books, and a small stipend while students complete their bachelor's degrees in electrical or mechanical engineering at PSU. Students are expected to work in Intel's factory in Vietnam after graduation. Intel partnered with PSU last year to help fill an immediate need for skilled engineers in its new semi-conductor assembly-test facility in Vietnam.
This summer, the new scholars will take English, culture and engineering classes in an eight-week bridge program to prepare them for the fall term at PSU. Intel also provides mentors, activities, and training sessions at Intel in Hillsboro. "The Intel scholarship is the biggest scholarship in my university," said Khoa Nguyen, 21. "Many people want to join, and the competition is really hard." He has friends in the first group of scholars who helped him prepare for the rigorous application process. He applied because wants to help grow the industry sector in Vietnam.
Duc Nguyen, 21, said the scholarship is "an opportunity for me to grow up and become a successful engineer when I come back to Vietnam." The first group of students has become like brothers and sisters to the second group, even answering questions by e-mail from Vietnam, Duc Nguyen said. "It's my dream come true," added Tan Thoi, 22. "Going to study in the United States is a very big dream for all of us. I can come back to Vietnam and contribute my work to the development of Vietnam."