Degree: Ph.D., Computer Science
College/School: College of Engineering and Computing
Hien Nguyen calls himself the best example of the American Dream.
In the aftermath of the war in Vietnam, where he was born, his family was separated. He spent his childhood in the countryside with his mom and sister until they could reunite with his father and brothers and move to Ho Chi Minh City. Throughout those tough times, Hien held fast to one goal: to achieve scores on required high school exams to make possible his pursuit of higher education at a top institution. His excellent results won him a scholarship to a French University, but his parents insisted instead on using savings to send him to the United States.
In Miami, as Hien explains it, he suffered severe bouts of homesickness and labored intensively in an English-language program. He later enrolled at Miami Dade College and then at FIU, where earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and exactly one year later a master’s degree in telecommunications and networking. During that time, he also started a retail business on South Beach and participated on a team that won FIU’s Howard J. Leonhardt New Venture Challenge.
In the pursuit of a Ph.D., he undertook groundbreaking research in the area of mobile learning, all the while teaching at Miami Dade College as an associate professor in the School of Engineering and Technology, which last week awarded him an endowed teaching chair.