The Institute of Information Technology (IOIT), founded in 1976, i s part the National Center for Natural Science and Technology. Originally IOI T was its Institute of Computer Science and Cybernetics. It is probably one o f the best equipped IT institutions in the country. At present there are some 150 micro- computers (286, 386, 486 processors), 2 minicomputers and relatively advanced data communications equipment. Although the Institute performs parts of its scientific and technological activities in the south of t he country, all its main activities are located to the Hanoi area.
Its staff of about 200 persons, include 3 professors, 12 associa te profes- sors and another SO persons with Ph.D. or equivalent academic de grees. They work in six departments, which are responsible for education an d training and consultancy and technical support services. The R&D pe rformed is labeled as follows:
FE In computer science: artificial intelligence; pattern recognition and image processing; programming languages; parallel processing, information cryptography.
FE In software engineering: distributed database technology; computer gra phics; soft- ware engineering methodology; system analysis and design; multimedia; management information systems.
FE In technical informatics: networking, informatics on telecommunication s; systems support.
FE In automation: robotics; process control, CAD/CAM.
FE In information technology for socio-economic systems: economic modeling and systems analysis; design and implementation of computerized informat ion systems for socio-economic activities.
FE In mathematical problems of information technology: mathematical model ing; numerical methods; 'computational statistics'.
The most successful software developed by the Institute is now in operation in more than 40 countries. Recently, an automatic optical reader has been developed at the Institute but it is not yet tested on the market.
In March 1992, UNESCO entered an agreement with the Vietnamese government to promote the Institute of Information Technology as one of several regional center for IT development in the South East Asian and Pacific Region. It became a node in a regional "informatics network" which, inter alia, should develop and coordinate cooperative research activities, promote technology transfer, organize advanced training courses, workshops and symposia at the regional level. The status as a UNESCO Regional Institute of Information Technology seems to have raised the quality of computer and communications equipment and made it easier for the Institute to recruit highly-qualified staff members.
As this is written, the Institute of Information Technology plays a lead- ing role in the creation of Vietnam's national data communications systems. On an ad hoc basis -- via the Australian National University -- the Institute's server is also a gateway to the world-wide Internet and other data communi- cations system. For several years, the Institute of Information Technology has been a central player in the attempts to establish VAREnet, Vietnam's academic, research, and educational data communications network. Cf. Chapter 9 for further details on VAREnet.
IT expertise in the academic research community seems to have good contacts with the Institute of Information Technology. It is probably not an isolated institution although it could serve a more active role as an education and training center in cooperation with one or several universities. Some academic staff at the universities need to up-date their knowledge and skills and the Institute could be seen as a proving ground for advanced teaching methods in the field of informatics and computer science together with one of the universities. As the use of IT grows within the universities -- for both research, teaching, and library services -- more and better-skilled staff is needed.
Other institutes or departments of the National Center for Natural Science and Technology are also performing highly-rated research on IT and electronics. There are several laboratories with electronics and other IT expertise. But the projects are usually small-scale with tiny budgets and limited in time.
For many years, the National Center for Natural Science and Technology played important roles in the general promotion of R&D in informatics and computer science. In some areas, we were told, the Center
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