Dr. The Nguyen is an engineer, inventor, innovator and idea maker. But, first and foremost, he is a teacher.
“I believe each student is unique and talented,” Dr. Nguyen said. “My responsibility as an educator is to make them aware of their talents and use them. Once they recognize what they have, the sky is the limit.”
As assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the Lyles College of Engineering, Dr. Nguyen’s teaching methods are simple.
‘“I tell them, “we are here to learn together. I teach you what I know and you teach me what you know. Don’t take anything from me for granted because I will make mistakes, and so will you. We’ll all learn from our mistakes so you don’t make a lot of them during your career.”’
He also believes it’s a vital part of their curriculum to treat his students like practicing engineers and ask a lot of questions to help them validate their own answers.
“As Dean, and watching from a distance, I have been inspired by Dr. Nguyen’s enthusiasm, his commitment for teaching and learning, and his commitment for student success. The individuals closest to his passion are his students,” Dr. Nunna, Dean of the Lyles College stated.
Dr. Nguyen is a DiscoverE Faculty Fellow as well as participant in the Coleman Fellows Program at Fresno State which has helped him incorporate additional entrepreneurial processes into his teaching. In partnership with several industries, Dr. Nguyen has been able to provide his students opportunities to develop solutions for their senior capstone and class projects.
“I’m working on developing a full prosthetic leg with active knee and ankle for above-knee amputees,” Dr. Nguyen said. “My students and I have gone through several prototypes of the knee. We haven’t had any fully successful one, but we don’t give up.”
And, he won’t give up. He believes that by motivating students to believe their ideas that they will become more tangible and reachable.
“I’m originally from Vietnam. I got bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from the University of Oklahoma, the master of science and PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Toledo, Ohio. Our students are different from any other schools I’ve been to because most of them have to work for their living. They are the first generation in college without much mentorship from their families. I tell them not to think about what you “can” do, but think more about what you “will” do.”
For first generation college graduate and Lyles College’s 2016 undergraduate Dean’s Medalist, Alan Suarez, Dr. Nguyen was a motivator during his educational career. He and Dr. Nguyen designed analyzed and manufactured one of the prosthetic knee prototypes.
“I can confidently say that his passion and drive to help me learn and grow, was one of the major reasons I achieved success at Fresno State,” Suarez said.
Suarez, a mechanical engineering graduate and engineer at GE Healthcare partnered with Shervin Zoghi, the college’s 2017 undergraduate Dean’s Medalist and with the help of Dr. Nguyen formed Valley Prototyping – providing engineering analysis and design prototypes for Valley customers.
“Having little prior business experience, we relied on Dr. Nguyen to provide guidance on manufacturing and customer acquisition. His help was instrumental, allowing us to leverage his many years of experience,” Zoghi said. “His passion for helping others and promoting innovation on campus is exemplified by his unending support as an adviser, educator, and researcher.”
Dr. Nguyen plans to continue his innovative research in the biomedical field because he believes he can help a lot of people with their medical needs.
“Like the main character in the movie “Hacksaw Ridge” said, while other machines (weapons) take lives, my machines will improve them.”
In May, Dr. Nguyen was awarded the 2017 Provost’s Award for Innovation at Fresno State. This annual university level award honors one faculty member across the university who has implemented outstanding innovative teaching approaches shown to increase student learning and success. The faculty member selected typically has a demonstrable record of innovation in the use of two or three pedagogical approaches, teaching methods, course design, curriculum development, assessment methods, and/or the use of tools or technologies that have had a significant impact on learning.
“I’m very happy that my effort is recognized. Even more importantly, I have a chance to share my educational approach to my colleagues and administration. I’m grateful for the strong support from the University administration, the Dean of LCOE and my departmental colleagues. The motivation also comes from the students I’ve been interacting with the last five years at Fresno State.”
– Dr. The Nguyen