Promoting education worldwide helps Texas Instruments sell products — and build a global team


DANANG, Vietnam — Texas Instruments held a contest here last week among Vietnamese university students for the best use of its micro-controllers. Hundreds of engineering and technology students plugged their imaginations into TI products to create things like miniature robots, heart monitors and devices that respond to motion and voice commands.

The winning team, from Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, won $2,000 for building a model smart home where lighting, climate, security and fire suppression were controlled by a TI chip.

Second prize of $1,000 went to a Danang University of Technology team with a mapping robot that used an ultrasound transmitter and receiver sensor to find its way around.

“This is the most memorable event in our student life,” said Danang’s Giao Duy Vinh. “Thank you, Texas Instruments. Without you, I could not get this far.”

When Giao and these other budding engineers are designing products for Vietnamese companies, they will probably buy products from Texas Instruments. Some might land a job with the Dallas-based company.

These contests, repeated across the United States, China, India and other parts of the world, are part of a broader company endeavor.

The company is a fierce protector of its intellectual property, as competitors in Japan and Korea have learned in court. But it doesn’t limit its educational assistance to schools in Texas or the United States.

Texas Instruments is helping to provide science, technology, engineering and math education in Dallas and Asia for innovators who will both create and compete with one another to shape the future.

The competition is getting tougher all the time. China graduates hundreds of thousands of engineers every year — far more than the United States. Chinese engineers work for wages that are less than one-fourth of what American engineers earn, according to a comparative analysis at

Technology executives here say Vietnamese engineers earn a third of what their Chinese counterparts make.

How do you compete with that?

Wages and profits are tied to productivity, which remains high in America. U.S. technology innovators keep coming up with ideas from tablet computers to the enhanced oil and gas production that comes from hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

Texas Instruments has worked since the 1980s with hundreds of universities across the world. The company has helped establish more than 3,000 teaching labs using TI technology (including two new ones at Danang University of Technology).

These efforts build the company’s customer base. They also make people want to work for Texas Instruments.

“When I talk to students in China, the question I am always asked is, ‘How can I join TI?’” said Kun-Shan Lin, a Texas Instruments vice president who was here for the Vietnam contest.

Top university degrees are part of his answer. But Lin said he also stresses teamwork.

“A single person cannot win,” he said. “You win because of a strong team.”

Texas Instruments has a strong manufacturing base in the Dallas area, but it also has factories in Asia and teams of engineers and programmers who work in many countries.

It’s a global team.

Follow Jim Landers on Twitter at @landersjim.

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