The University of Heidelberg is extending its relations with Vietnam. Since the beginning of the reform drive there, cooperation has been taking on ever greater dimensions. Links were further cemented recently by a visit to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City by a delegation made up of Prof. Dr. Heinz Horner, vice-rector for research, Prof. Dr. Susanne Weigelin-Schwiedrzik, vice-rector for international relations, Prof. Dr. Hans Georg Bock (Centre of Interdisciplinary Scientific Computing) and Prof. Dr. Rainer Sauerborn (Dept. of Tropical Hygiene).
Scientifically, Vietnam is a highly advanced country, only matched in this respect by Thailand in the Southeast Asian region. Reasons are the good secondary education system established under French influence and at a later stage the very thorough academic training given to Vietnamese scientists in the Soviet Union and the GDR. The University of Heidelberg can thus build on these foundations and does so not least at the express desire of the Vietnamese scientists trained in the GDR.
The universities and technical colleges in Vietnam already have very far-reaching exchange programmes with scientific institutions in Australia, France, Germany, the UK and the USA. Quick advantage needs to be taken of the opportunities for scientific collaboration with Vietnam in the next few years as it is the scientists trained in the GDR who display the greatest interest in maintaining close links with German universities and they are due to retire from their leading posts in the course of the next 10 years or so.
Heidelberg delegation in Vietnam: major interest on both sides
Various delegations from Vietnam have visited the University of Heidelberg in the past and now it was time for a return visit. Vice-rectors Prof. Horner and Prof. Weigelin-Schwiedrzik were joined by Prof. Hans Georg Bock (Centre of Interdisciplinary Scientific Computing) and Prof. Rainer Sauerborn (Tropical Hygiene) on a trip to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). In Hanoi there were talks and meetings at the National Center for Science and Technology, the Education and Health Ministry, the National Economics University and Hanoi Technical University.
Summing up, vice-rector for international relations, Prof. Dr. Susanne Weigelin-Schwiedrzik noted major interest in links with Germany in general and Heidelberg in particular, the priorities for collaboration being in the fields of medicine (notably public health and tele-medicine), physics and scientific computing.
Negotiations on setting up a course by the University of Heidelberg at the National Economics University in Hanoi
Concrete negotiations were conducted by Prof. Rainer Sauerborn on possibilities of setting up a course developed by the University of Heidelberg at the National Economics University in Hanoi, with a view to enhancing the professionalisation of administrators working in the field of public health in Vietnam. It looks very much as if the course will be able to start in autumn 2001. Commented vice-rector Weigelin-Schwiedrzik: "This is the first step by Heidelberg University toward exporting its courses abroad. As such it is of major significance, not only for the Vietnamese government's bid to restructure public health in its own country."
Scientific computing: successful cooperation already under way
The collaboration between Heidelberg's Centre of Interdisciplinary Scientific Computing and Vietnamese scientists dates back to research sojourns by Prof. Dr. Hoang Xuan Phu with Prof. Bock's research group. These began over 10 years ago and were part-financed by a scholarship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Over the last five years a research group from the Centre (led by Hans Georg Bock, Gerhard Reinelt and Johannes Schlöder) has been active in Vietnam thanks to an agreement signed in 1997 with the Information Technology Institute of the Technical University in Ho Chi Minh City, the University of Vinh and the Mathematics Department of the National Science and Technology Center in Hanoi. Their activities revolve around exchanges on the subject of high-performance scientific computing.
The central concern is the development of computer simulation and optimisation methods for practical applications, notably (for Vietnam) in the areas ecology and environmental protection, logistics and production, engineering mechanics and hydrology.
While Heidelberg students are already in Vietnam engaged in industrial or software practicals, three Vietnamese students are working towards a doctorate at the Heidelberg Scientific Computing Centre on subjects ranging from optimisation problems in operation planning for Vietnam Airlines and computer simulation of water levels in the Red River (flood avoidance) to simulation and optimisation in chemical reactors.
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Dr. Michael Schwarz
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