A research group which researches advanced materials and structures of Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc at Vietnam National University (VNU) is one of strong research groups of Vietnam, and is known by domestic and international scientific communities. A successfull lesson of this model has proved creative and unique ways so that Vietnam’s university education and science can access fast and effectively to international standards. 

Establishment of the research group and model construction were started from the heart of a teacher – Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc.

Now, improving education quality in universities, creating output products (graduating students) having high-level specialties, meeting needs of organizations, enterprises, corporations and companies is one of the the top concerns of universities in Vietnam.  Morever, in the contexts of international exchange and integration and industrial revolution 4.0, traning problems of high-quality human resources in order to compete in international and regional environments urged Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc to start to establish a research group.

Starting with his financial source as zero to build a research group, in 2010 Professor Dr.Sci. Duc gathered, selected and guided students who are passionate about studying and researching science. Initially, the research group only had a teacher and a few students; and its working place was very simple, it used to be teacher’s working room after office hours, a certain lecture-room after school hours, or a small store on a pavement.  However, by a heart of a teacher, students who found to join in the group were increased.  In addition to their class learnings, students were guided to research science by Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc. Thanks to joining in the group, students not only improve their learning results, but morever they are also acquainted and mature in a scientific research environment. Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc indentifies that findings of the group aren’t only published in domestic reputable specialized journals, but also in international reputable specialized ones. In order to do this, he learned and grasped the new research directions of the world, and then deployed them in his group. He wholeheartedly instructed, guided the research for each student, assigned calculation exercises, urged, checked the results, discussed and progressed to the international publication. Thanks to that perseverance, teacher and students’ efforts was rewarded with international articles in prestigious magazines.

So, it can be said that the establishment of the group in early stage is the stage of “start-up” in the science of Professor Dr.Sci. Duc and his students in association with the first reaps which are articles published internationally. This is a very important foundation for the group to continue developing in next stages.

The period from 2014 to 2017 was a stage the group matured and brokethrough in all aspects.  In this stage, the group improved its quality.  In that foundation, in 2014, Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc suggested and was supported to establish a laboratory by the boards of directors of  VNU University of Engineering and Technology. With new model and structure, research group expanded cooperation with departments, laboratories of international universities (Australia, Japan, Korea, Canada, UK, etc.) and domestic universities (Le Quy Don University, VNU University of Science, Vietnam Japan University, etc.).  Activities of the group constantly was promoted and expanded. Not only students, masters and fellows from univesities, but doctors, associate professors and professors of universities also joined in the group. A research field was improved, from basic into applied research. The laboratory expaneded research directions related to infrastructure technology, climate change, special projects, advanced materials, extensive cooperation with international scientists, a focal point for successfully organizing prestigious international conferences.

Starting from awarenes: the group can be strong in a period, and be weak in another period, but the group must attach to traning for its stable development.  Research group’s development must attach to new industries, departments and formations of new orgranizations.  From that philosophy and a foundation of research group, Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc opened new industries and departments. Capturing the development direction of modern technology and indispensable technology in the field of advanced materials and structures, Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc applied for training in Advanced Materials and Structures at Faculty of Engineering Mechanics and Automation (VNU University of Engineering and Technology) in 2015. Till now, the Falculty has had 4 years of traning students who choose this industry. Besides, research group has been also an important prop for building the Infrastructure Engineering sector at Vietnam Japan University and Civil-Transport Engineering Industry in VNU Hanoi – University of Engineering and Technology. Three years later, in 2018, Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc established new faculty – Faculty of Civil-Transport Engineering and Technology, creating new cooperations with departments, major universities, large domestic and foreign enterprises.

So, from the research group model with a main activitity as science research to have international publications, the group now has a new model as the laboratory – where basic research is turned to applied one and its result is scientific patents.  Also from nuclei of the group, with requirements of developing from internal, new branches and departments have been established to meet the needs of training additional human resources (engineers) for society and for the group.  Members of the group not only work science in the group but also teachers and teachers participating in teaching in newly established industries and departments. This is a very new and creative training model in Vietnam.

Research group model – a model to train talents according a direction of personalization.

Till now, research group has 40 members. Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc is a leader of the group, and members are teachers who are lecturers at universities, young doctors, PhD students, master students and university students.  A training model of the group according a direction of personalization. That means responsibility of the head of research group is very important. Research group is organized to decentralize according to a soft mechanism. Leader is a professor followed by doctors and PhD students and then university students from all courses.

In order to operate effectively in research, and train for each individual, the group is separated into some small groups. A young doctor is leader of a group, taking responsibility for implementing and speeding up scientific tasks when he entrusted by the professor.

In a foundation of general research directions, the professor is a person who assigns specific content, research tasks to each member or to small groups foundationd on their strengths. When receiving tasks from the professor, young doctors, leaders of groups will instructe and mentore fellows; then these fellows do same with students. In a student group, upper-year students are responsible for helping lower-year ones to join in the group. The group organizes a sciencific seminar everyweek. In particular, through the activities and cooperation of the group, the members of the group also participated in discussions and training sessions, seminars of foreign professors. Thereby, new problems in science are discussed and answered.

In a process of joining in the group, a lot of students and fellows have been sent to practice at major universities such as Osaka University (Japan), The University of Birmingham (UK), etc. and prestigious businesses such as CONINCO, etc. They have been attended major national and international scientific conferences.  4th-year students have been practiced in a semester in some companies. Their qualifications and practical knowledge are improved through visits to the field, contact with the General Engineer, engineers, read the drawings, advice and supervision with the engineers… After graduation, students and fellows who have good academic and research results will be introduced to transfer to become fellows or to work abroad. Conversely, the group is also an evironment to receive foreign fellows and research staffs to come for discussion, resreach in Vietnam.  In addtion to professional activities, the group also organizes year-end summaries, visits of beginning of a year, picnics, visits of graves of fallen heroes.

So, we can see that after transferring form yearly training (organization according to classes, coures, and with head teachers) into credit-foundation training (there is no yearly class, students can choose subjects for themselves, there is no head teacher), therefore, cooperative relationships between those who follow credit only becomes loose. The research group model is vert effective, it doesn’t only help people learn and practice at the same time, but also help connect professors, associate professors, teachers, students and fellows to become a unified block with mentoring, guidance and direction, dedicated support from teachers and group members. Members who join in the group can work in a collective environment, but they are assigned professional tasks, developed talents associated with the scientific achievements of each individual. The research group model is also a model which doesn’t only train and develop a sciencific specialty, but it also educate personality, groupwork, collaboration and soft skills for student in a effective way. The research group model is a model of training talents towards personalization, in accordance with the transformation of higher education in the context of industrial revolution 4.0.

Preeminence of the research group model

From Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc’s research group model, we can see that this is a form of operating to research science according to an effective centralized and specialization direction.  Researchers in the group effort to develop common goals, coordinate resources and share work towards a common goal of the group.  Engagement in the group is often motivated by activities such as regular scientific activities, encouraging positive debates and strengthening credibility among researchers in the group.

Goals of the group are to promote scientific research activities, simultaneously combine with training through research.  Reality from Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc’s model shows that, formations of research groups create a strong scientific research system of science and technology organizations, especially for universities.  A research group is a place to do sciencific researches combined with training, specially training through research. Results of research groups contribute to promote international publication; training, retraining and developing the next workforce. Concurrently, research group overcome the limitations of a “hard” research organization/unit. If activities of a such unit is often bound by institutional restrictions on functions, tasks, administrative structures, resources, etc. Research group is almost unbound by these limits.  However, autonomic rights in management and autonomy in resources and academic freedom of research group are always accompanied by their responsibility to achieve goals, this is a condition for research group to continue to exist and develop.  Research group can attract domestic and foreign resources in training and research of “Uberization” model in education.

The group is also an environment to attract talents, deploy international integration in training and scientific research activities. The successful key of this model, firstly, is an enthusiastic teacher who can lead research group to modern research directions, encouraging passion, actively participating in scientific ambitions of students and fellows.

This model is considered as very successful, because it trained students and fellows who are do not only have good qualities, solid knowledge foundations in mathematics, physics, mechanics, information technology and so on, have practical experience but also be trained in will, spirit and creativity when starting to study new scientific issues.  Experience of advanced countries has shown that strong research groups are development nuclear of excellent research centers in universities. Formations of excellent research centers in universities from strong research groups has created high-level units of research and innovation. In recent decades, excellent research centers have developed in many universities, in which both countries with advanced science countries such as American, Japan, UK, Australia, Korea, China, etc. and developing countries such as Brazil, Saudi Arabia, etc. American is a lead country and has many success in this field. Such as, Richard E.Smalley Institute – Rice University (Established in 1993), considered a center of excellence with the mission of leading the world in nanotechnology research.  There were 2 scientists (they also were leaders of strongs RTs) of the Institute, received Nobel’s prize on chemistry in 1996, they were R.Smalley and R.Curi. In 2005, this Institute was voted as the world’s leading research institute for nanotechnology by Small Time journal.

Some results of the research group model

After 9 year of construction and development, Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc’s research group has reached many important results in research and training, concurrently contributing to serve practical needs. The research group has published over 250 scientific articles and reports, including more 135 scientific articles in prestigious ISI (SCI, SCIE) international journals, has been issued 1 patent in manufacturing nano-composite materials, has published syllabuses and monographs (in English) for university and postgraduate training, there have been 5 fellows to defend successfully doctoral thesises and 10 fellows have been being trained.

Till now, Vietnam Mechanics industry has awarded 5 Nguyen Van Dao awards to talented young scientists. Dr. Hoang Van Tung and Dr. Tran Quoc Quan, 2  students of the group were pleased to receive these awards. All members of the group have many international articles. Specially young fellows, students in the group have long track records of international publication such as Pham Hong Cong (23 ISI articles), Tran Quoc Quan (20 ISI articles), Vu Thi Thuy Anh (9 ISI articles), Vu Dinh Quang (7 ISI articles), Pham Dinh Nguyen (6 ISI articles), etc. Reputation of the group has been resounding and charismatic in the international scientific community.


The group also holds key role to organize many prestigious and successful international conferences such as ICEMA 2010, ICEMA2012, ICEMA2014, ICEMA2016, an international conference on bees optimization (3/2018) and an international conference ACCMS TM 2018 (9/2018) with attending of hundreds of top international scientists, etc.

Thanks to a such effective, reputable and good quality model, research group has been having an equal cooperation relationship with the prestigious laboratories and scientists in leading universities in Japan, Korea, UK, Australia, Canada, etc. such as Tokyo Institute of Technology and Tokyo University (Japan), University of Birmingham (United Kingdom), The University of Melbourne (Australia), Yonsei University (Korea), Moscow State University (Russia), etc. Professor Duc is also a member of ACCMS International Council on calculation in material science, a member of FGM International Council and a member of editorial board of many ISI international journals.

So, if comparing very little financial investment source to achievements achieved by a research group like above, we can see that research group model is more convenient and efficient than some National Research Institutes and Centers.

However, the biggest difference compared to foreign countries is when having expenses, projects and topics, foreign research groups are then established.  But in Vietnam, we can see through Professor Dr.Sci. Nguyen Dinh Duc’s research group model, despite of many difficulties, research groups in Vietnam are still established and develop effectively by internal powers made in Vietnam 100%.

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