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Engineering student fine-tunes skills during Mack Trucks internships

Vy Vu, a rising senior in Liberty University’s mechanical engineering program, is test driving her classroom knowledge this summer as she interns with Mack Trucks for the third time.

Last summer, the international student from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, became the first Liberty engineering student to intern with the eminent American truck manufacturing company at one of its major facilities in Macungie, Pa. Vu started out creating digital truck models with various combinations of features for Mack Trucks’ “Top Views” project, intended to give customers a better visual experience when customizing their trucks.

“Because (the project) was just implemented, I got to work on something completely new and challenge myself,” Vu said. “The project itself, my supervisor, and the team pushed me to my limits so that I could think outside of the box and use my own knowledge that I learned from school.”

Vu shined in her work and secured another internship last fall, working remotely as she continued her studies.

“It was truly a gift that has paid off for what I’ve done,” she said. “I strived my best to learn and to get out of my comfort zone during all the projects I was working on, (so) I am thankful that my hard work was recognized by my manager and the team.”

This summer, Vu landed yet another internship with the company, switching gears to a project focused on detail analysis of the weight of the trucks, a very important process in engineering design and the trucking industry.

“We have to perform detailed calculations on the majority of the trucks' components to be able to deliver an accurate estimation of how much the truck will weigh before it is manufactured,” Vu explained. “I am getting a chance to look at all of the components of the trucks, understand how they function, and understand what Mack Trucks has to offer specifically to our customers, what all the components in each part are.”

The opportunities she has had with Mack, a part of the Volvo Group, are invaluable.

“The internship not only introduced and taught me different programs and industry knowledge that I have never encountered before, but it’s definitely a great way for me to strengthen my résumé and have experience for the future,” Vu said. “So far I am loving what I am doing and can definitely see myself working in the same industry after graduation.”

Vu added that her Liberty education helped her stand out as an intern.

“The faculty and staff pour their whole hearts out just to support students and help them to have the best experience,” she said. “The program and professors always push me to my max limits to perform my best in every task. … I learned how to pay attention to details, learn fast, take initiative with things, and never be afraid of asking questions.”

She appreciated how Liberty also gave her many opportunities to network with employers.

“Professors always prepare us to be ready and be our best for real-life professional experiences,” Vu said.

Vu has been interested in engineering since she was a child, influenced by her father who fixed cars as a hobby. She came to Liberty intent on studying aviation but was soon drawn to Liberty’s School of Engineering.

“It was all God,” she said, “because 2014 (her freshman year) was the first year Liberty offered an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering.”

Leaving her family so far away was difficult, Vu said, but the engineering faculty have been “one of the best gifts that God has blessed me with. They don’t look at us as just students; we are family to them.” All of the friends she has made in the U.S. have been a vital support system while she’s away from home, she added.

Vu also enjoys the campus community and how it strengthens her newfound faith; she became a Christian shortly before coming to Liberty.

She hopes that as she finds success in her career, she can be an inspiration to women in the engineering field and to more international students at Liberty.

“I want to encourage other international students and women in engineering to realize: ‘You are awesome and you can do more than what you think. God will give you wisdom, so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Keep seeking opportunities wherever you go and chase your dreams.’”