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Intercultural exchange

A long way from home

The HaMoNee project supports academic and intercultural exchange between Vietnamese universities and HAW Hamburg – through both innovative digital teaching formats and in-person exchanges. Now seven representatives of Vietnamese universities have visited Hamburg for the first time. Sustainable mobility, a central topic for all involved, was a key focus of the visit.

The challenges related to sustainable mobility are similar in Vietnam and Germany. These four professors are shown listening to a presentation by Prof. Benedikt Plaumann of the HAW Hamburg Department of Automotive and Aeronautical Engineering.

A self-driving fire engine that specialises in going up the stairs in highrise buildings to put out fires, an electric cart that garbage men in Vietnam load garbage into so that they no longer have to push a heavy wagon – although Vietnam and Germany could not be much further apart geographically, the research projects that academics at the participating Vietnamese universities (Hanoi University of Science and TechnologyUniversity of Transport Technology , Phenikaa University in Hanoi,  Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and the Vietnamese-German University) are conducting are not that different from the projects at HAW Hamburg.

And this is precisely why exchange between the two countries should be intensified, thought Prof. Dr. Dirk Engel of the HAW Hamburg Department of Automotive and Aeronautical Engineering when he set out to launch the HaMoNee project. The acronym stands for Hamburg/Hanoi Mobile Engineers, and the project supports the international mobility of students and instructors at Vietnamese universities and HAW Hamburg. It is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as part of its HAW.International programme for the period 2021–2024.

Valuable contacts for both universities: seven Vietnamese professors visit HAW Hamburg

Seven professors from Vietnam recently visited HAW Hamburg for the first time. During their stay, they met colleagues here who work on topics similar to those they research themselves: sustainable mobility, self-driving vehicles, innovative vehicle designs, energy needs and alternative fuels. Getting to know one another better was a central focus of their visit. For example, the professors from both Vietnam and Germany gave presentations on their teaching specialisations and research projects. The guests visited labs, workshops and projects and obtained valuable insights into how degree courses are structured here in Germany. They also took part in an exciting professional and cultural programme outside the university: they visited Airbus in Hamburg and Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, and they went on a field trip to Lübeck.

Always in focus: sustainable mobility

As different as the two countries are in terms of their traffic systems, the challenge is the same: transitioning to sustainable mobility. Similarly to the situation in many Southeast Asian cities, motor scooters and motorcycles predominate on the streets of Vietnam. In Hanoi – like Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur – the two-wheeled vehicles are essential for millions of people. 'It is unbelievably busy, it's loud and smoggy, and the majority of the scooters use fossil fuels. If it's possible to solve the mobility question there, it can definitely be solved here,' says Prof. Engel of his experiences. In projects such as HaMoNee, these solutions can be jointly designed and developed through the combination of German and Vietnamese know-how.

The differences between Germany and Vietnam were also evident to the guests: 'It is so quiet and clean in Germany. I really like the clear architecture,' said Prof. Dr. Trần Quang Vinh, dean of the Faculty of Vehicle and Energy Engineering at Phenikaa University in Hanoi. 'In Hanoi it is much louder and more dynamic.' But despite these differences, he sees great benefits to the collaboration with HAW Hamburg and would also like to work on joint research projects in future. Prof. Dr. Nguyễn Thế Lương feels the same: 'We are definitely working on projects that cover similar topics. I would find it very exciting to generate synergies here and initiate and finance joint projects.'

We are definitely working on projects that cover similar topics. I would find it very exciting to generate synergies here and initiate and finance joint projects.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyễn Thế Lương, Advanced Automotive Engineering Programme Director, Hanoi University of Science and Technology

Both parties agree: in-person exchanges are important. At the same time, though, the virtual and hybrid teaching formats will be continued: 'In addition to teaching and internship semesters, we organise internationally focused online lectures in hybrid study and teaching rooms,' explains project coordinator Svenja Henseleit. 'Through summer schools and short courses, even more opportunities for getting insights into teaching and practice will be offered.' Collaborative, digitally supported study and research projects are also being planned, she says. 'We're also working on programmes to prepare for and follow up on exchanges. These go beyond just the academic content and deal more with cultural and societal topics, like the language, geography, history and politics, as well as seminars on self-reflection and dealing with diversity.' For example, Vietnamese language courses have been initiated at HAW Hamburg, and an intercultural training session has been developed. A tour guide was also organised to provide a virtual tour of Hanoi's old quarter as part of the 'International Days' at HAW Hamburg. This made it possible for students not only to get an impression of the architecture and daily life there, but also to learn about the traditional values, everyday lives and current challenges of the neighbourhood and its residents.

What's next

Now that HAW Hamburg has hosted the first four visiting students from Hanoi this winter semester, the first two HAW Hamburg students will head to Hanoi for an exchange semester in summer semester 2023. As buddies, the latter are already in close contact with the students from Hanoi and have now also had the chance to meet the professors from their host university. The intensive exchange in recent weeks provided instructors and project participants from Vietnam and Hamburg with the mutual opportunity to get a sense of everyday teaching and research at the partner institution, but it was above all a chance to establish and intensify personal contacts. Invitations for guest lectureships were extended, options for joint research proposals were discussed and possibilities for a joint teaching programme were explored, all with the aim of deepening and expanding cooperation – potentially even beyond the current project period.

(Text: Tiziana Hiller/Svenja Henseleit)

A few impressions from the Vietnamese professors' visit at HAW Hamburg


Prof. Dirk Engel
Department of Automotive and Aeronautical Engineering
Professor of Mechatronic Systems in Chassis Engineering

T +49 40 428 75-7902
dirk.engel (at) haw-hamburg (dot) de

Svenja Henseleit
Department of Automotive and Aeronautical Engineering
HaMoNee Project Coordinator

T +49 40 428 75-9842
svenja.henseleit (at) haw-hamburg (dot) de