FORT KNOX, Ky. (Jan. 9, 2015) -- One man's mission to have an impact on the next generation of leaders has led him to view the Army as an opportunity to develop more leaders among the Asian heritage community.

As a chemical engineer, Khanh Vu once worked at Amoco where he oversaw 350 gas wells in the San Juan in New Mexico and Colorado. He explored and researched effects of cavitation (cavities or bubbles forming in a liquid that's being pumped) on high production coal-bed methane.

He is now using his research skills to explore a new challenge: increasing the percentage of college students of Asian heritage in science and engineer careers. Vu is director of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, or SASE.

He has identified one solution: partner with Army ROTC as a way to encourage Asian heritage students to consider Army careers, especially those requiring majors in Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math (STEM) fields.

Vu said SASE goals for its collegiate chapters align closely with the U.S. Army's goals. Both organizations promote diversity and tolerance; both build bridges between their respective organizations with employers; and both help prepare members for industry after graduation or after leaving the Army.

Vu said he believes an Army ROTC partnership could help provide resolution to three issues in the Asian heritage community: (1) Asians are not seen as leaders as reported by various studies; (2) Asians are technically competent, but lack soft skills, and; (3) Asians are not engaged in the wider community.

"The U.S. Army has many leadership opportunities and can help with developing many team/soft skills aspects. The Army also has opportunities for employment and professional development that could benefit our members."

He got a close-up look at the Army when he attended the U.S. All-American Bowl (AAB) as a STEM advisor for Army ROTC. AAB is the nation's premier high school all-star football game featuring the best 90 players in an annual East vs. West matchup every January in San Antonio's Alamodome. While there, he attended senior Army leadership briefings, and got an overview of the Army's mission and its different commands.

"The U.S. Army is much, much more than frontline warfare," Vu added. "The Army is involved other areas such as humanitarian missions, domestic security, global commands, and cyber growth. When I talk with our SASE members, I'll be able to share the Army's vast footprint and dispel some of the myths."

He also learned that Army ROTC has 275 college programs with about 1,000 affiliates. SASE has 64 collegiate across the country and is growing. "We will connect with a few of these chapters and pilot some collaboration between them and the Army, so hopefully, we can take it nationally as a model."

Vu sees this collaboration on multiple levels: local, regional and national levels. On the local level, SASE chapters can invite ROTC leadership to share their leadership experience through joint exercises or workshops. SASE also could provide exposure to the STEM field for incoming ROTC freshmen, he said.

"On the regional and national level, SASE is starting a hackathon competition that will attract cyber-skilled students and professionals," Vu said. This competition could be sponsored by the Army to bring awareness about its new Cyber Command and focus of the Army."

He also met with Maj. Gen. Peggy Combs, commander, U.S. Army Cadet Command, the organization that oversees Army ROTC programs. Vu said he plans to stay in touch with Cadet Command. "I believe the Army will have a presence at our SASE 2015 National Conference to talk about leadership and share all the possibilities of Army life such as scholarships, cyber opportunities, and civilian-related positions. Attending the Army All-American Bowl helped open up my eyes to different opportunities within the Army."