by Ngoc Duy
|Not faking: Nhu introduces her software to visitors at a local exhibition.|
Few people may believe that a student who specialises in English can have a great passion for computers but one schoolgirl in Da Nang has won several computing awards and now wants to do something for the people.
Nguyen Kim Hoang Nhu graduated from Le Quy Don High School and left her home town earlier this month for HCM City National University to pursue her dreams. One of her goals is to develop a software programme that can help people avoid accidentally purchasing counterfeit products.
Nhu has already created an anti-counterfeit software programme, which earned her first prize in a Da Nang computing contest for youth last year.
She also received the Intel Excellence in Computer Science Award for her submission to this year's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world's largest pre-college science competition.
Nhu said the idea came to her about three or four years ago when she watched a TV report on the damaging effects of fake medicines in Viet Nam.
"Drugs are just one of a variety of goods that directly affect people's health; people even face a high risk of death when taking fake drugs," she said. "Learning this information gave me a lot of ideas."
She said that counterfeited goods can slow trade and seriously harm businesses and the economy. She hopes to find a solution to eradicate this problem completely.
She also realises that it is hard to tell genuine products from fakes when online shopping has gained popularity.
With these concerns in mind, Nhu, early last year, began working on the software by studying commonly copied products such as calculators, telephones, motorcycles, gas cookers and cleaning products.
She generated a list of more than 30 product categories with information about prices, characteristics, uses and retail agents. The bulk of her research was done on the internet, but she also consulted books, newspapers and TV.
|Cleaning up: Nhu works on her computer to improve her software. — VNS Photos|
She described ways to differentiate between real and fake products, which she said manufacturers often forget to explain on their websites because their primary focus is on advertising.
Nhu designed a software programme that is compatible with computers and some mobile phones, making it easy for customers to access her product database and make comparisons while they're shopping.
She create an interface that looks like an online shopping website, where manufacturers can register to display their products and customers can order the items they want.
"I believe that a software displaying goods with information to help consumers distinguish between products is one of the best ways for businesses to promote their brands as well as strengthen their images in the market," she said.
During the implementation process, Nhu also tried to study current anti-counterfeit laws and related socio-economic information to create a programme that was both helpful and convenient for users.
Nhu named the software 1.1trieu.com. She explained that, in the name, 1 trieu (one million) was a symbolic number she used to represent the large number of software users she wished to reach.
"Where will one million users come from? They will be from around the nation, or maybe the world," she said smiling.
Nhu's software has already been given a trial on the Le Quy Don school website and received much praise from her teachers and friends.
Huynh Van Hoa, former director of the Da Nang Department of Education and Training, said, "the software is useful and has high potential for practical application".
"I'm very glad to see what my pupil has achieved," said Nguyen Thi Hoang Hau, Nhu's head teacher. "This was the result of her best efforts and dedication."
"Nhu has demonstrated a great passion for computer science since she was small," said Hau. In high school, Nhu specialised in English and her parents both work in literature, so her computer skills are self taught.
In addition to her latest awards, Nhu has also received prizes in several city-wide and national computing contests for some of her other software designs, including a programme that teaches English to children, Hau added.
Nhu said the important matter now was how to bring her anti-counterfeit software to the market. She needs co-operation and support from businesses as well as other economic institutions in order to do so.
"In fact, if the software is officially used, information about products must be acquired and frequently updated from original manufacturers and their authorised distributors, who are the most reliable sources of information," she said.
Nhu figured that, with such support and systematic development, the number of product categories in the database would become much larger and her software would meet customer demands.
In the future she plans to work with companies directly to promote her product.
"At present it's certainly difficult for a young student like me," she said. "I have limited knowledge of economic laws and business methods."
"I hope the experiences I have at university will help. I will get a lot of ideas about business in the banking and finance department in the next few years."
Nhu should be confident about her plans to develop the software. Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang said at a national market managers meeting a few months ago that anti-counterfeit forces still faced many difficulties in controlling the complicated situation, adding that it was necessary for customers to protect themselves by learning more about goods on the market. — VNS