Posted: February 6, 2008

A new direction for Vietnamese science and technology

(Nanowerk News) We are now living in an era of global competition, which is based on scientific and technological strength. Growth of a country is driven by technological renewal and creativity. To follow this situation, Vietnam’s science and technology service should make complete changes.
Global tendencies
According to top the World Bank’s scientific and educational experts, investment and development orientation for global science and technology in the 21st century will concentrate in the English abbreviation ‘GRIN’, in which G stands for Genomics; R, Robotics; I, Information Technology and Communication; and N, Nanotechnology.
In fact, over the last ten years, IT, biotechnology, and new material technology have become priorities in the development of Vietnam’s science and technology.
In addition, changes have been seen in the content and access method in these above mentioned fields.
Nanotechnology has become a huge field, which covers such sciences as physics, chemistry, information technology, telecommunication, and biotechnology. The technology has reached the highest level as the science of the era, having created comparative advantage for many countries.
To catch up with the development of global science and technology, Vietnam should have proper investment plans, prepared for ideas and combining scientists and experts with programmes which have completely new contents, and establishing training and research centres. Apart from traditional laboratories, two National Universities have begun to do this way.
The Ho Chi Minh National University has built a nanotechnoly laboratory in Thu Duc district. Since 2006, the University of Technology, under the Hanoi National University, has implemented an ambitious project on the building of a nano-magnetic material and component laboratory.
This Tet (Lunar New Year), researchers at the University of Technology in co-operation with the Biotech Institute, under the Vietnam Science and Technology Academy successfully studied the use of nano technology for destroying H5N1 viruses in the laboratory environment, opening up a good prospect for the fight against bird flu.
International quality
The value and reputation of scientists who have won prestigious prizes, such as Nobel, Fields or Clay (in mathematics), of other international awards, have been absolutely recognised.
For other scientists, capability and quality of their research work now under evaluation are based on the number of articles they write for international scientific magazines, and the number of articles quoted on scientific newspapers.
In 2005, Jorge Hirsch, physics professor (PhD, University of Chicago, 1980) who does research and teaching at the University of California, San Diego, the US, suggested the h-index as a tool for determining theoretical physicists’ relative quality (see http://en,
According to Professor Hirsch, a scientist has index h if h of his Np papers have at least h citations each, and the other (Np - h) papers have at most h citations each.
He studied the h-index of some scientists and stated that in his theoretical physics, successful scientists will have h = 20 after 20 years; while an outstanding scientists will have h = 40 after 20 years; and a truly unique individual will have h = 60 after 20 years.
Professor Hirsch suggested that in the US a scientist with h = 12 can be appointed as associate professor, and a scientist with h = 18, full professor.
Those scientists who won the Nobel Prize will have h-index ranging from 35 to 100. The highest h-index belongs to scientists in chemistry and physics (h = 100); biology (h = 160); computing science (h = 70). The h-index is 40 for economics.
Vietnamese science and technology should follow these criteria if it wants to keep abreast with global trench.
The University of Natural Science, under the Hanoi National University, possess departments, each of which has around 10 lecturers and researchers, who each year publish 10 research works international magazines, which have had impact of between 3 and 4. Some works have 50 citations and some scientists have the h-index ranging between 10 and 12. This is equal to the level of some modern laboratories in the region. This can be considered as a role model, which should be multiplied in Vietnam.
Development strategy of Vietnamese identity
Compared to other countries in the region, Vietnamese science and technology was established early (in 1959), with the establishment of the National Science Committee, which is the precursor of the Ministry of Science and Technology today. The Vietnam Science and Technology Academy with a network of research institutes were established and have developed strongly since 1975.
However, it was a period that all scientific and technological activities of Vietnam relied mainly on the former Soviet Union and other socialist countries in Eastern Europe.
In the 1990s, Vietnam did not receive such a strong assistance from the countries and initially renewed some of its scientific and technological policies, serving the development of light industry, consumer goods and agricultural machine production.
A significant change for the better has been witnessed in scientific and technological renewal and creativity the early of the 21st century. The software development, mining, motorbike and automobile assembly industries have seen significant results.
The country’s growth, however, mainly relies on the processing of agricultural and seafood products.
Moreover, the implementation of scientific research activities in Vietnam is mainly through basic research programmes and national scientific and technological programmes.
Putting the programmes in a system and in combination with other scientific and technological factors (see the chart), Vietnamese basic research is still too small and has yet to be connected with the technological deployment.
A suitable and effective solution for Vietnam at present is to develop research and development groups for core technologies (see the chart). Direct products of the groups are still articles, patents and piloting products at the international level.
However, there will be factors that will improve the country’s competitiveness in science and technology, creating new products which will make a contribution to GDP growth and economic development. This is the idea of a programme entitled ’Pioneer’, which is to be launched by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
In the Year of the Rat, if the programme is launched, it will be certain that Vietnamese science and technology will accelerate its development so as to together turn into a dragon.
Source: VietnamNetBridge (Professor Nguyen Huu Duc - Nhan Dan)
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