Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Engineers to come from collaboration

Engineers to come from collaboration

To train people in science and technology, the Science Ministry has established Thailand Advance Institute of Science and Technology as a centre for collaboration amongst universities and research institutions within and outside the country.

Published on November 13, 2007

Called ThaiST for short, the institute was set up under a consortium model to link research centres in Thailand with local and international universities to develop courses in particular fields, said Yodhathai Thebtaranonth, an adviser to the Science Minister.

Set up this year, ThaiST has created the first collaboration between two Thai universities, King Mongkut Institute of Technology at Lad Krabang and Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology, as well as the National Metal and Materials Technology Centre (Mtec) to develop a master's degree course on automotive engineering. The course is also supported by the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

"This is the first master's degree course and it was launched in June this year. We hope this course will be a starting point for the institute to develop collaboration to move into other fields," he said.

He said the collaboration with research institutes would allow students the chance to use laboratory facilities to do their research, while researchers in the lab could also train students for further research development.

In the first stage, the automotive engineering course is expected to produce around 20 master's degree automotive engineers for the country.

As the automotive industry is one of the country's key strategic weapons, it requires more people in particular fields to work for the industry. Local universities do not yet have this kind of course to train people to meet the demand. Yodhathai said it is the institute's duty to see demand in the market and train people to serve that demand.

Apart from automotive engineering, he said examples of other fields which the institute planned to develop include biotechnology, geo informatics, nuclear technology and cosmetic science.

Meanwhile, the ministry also plans to work with the private sector to initiate a project called chair professor. The idea is to encourage the private sector to give annual scholarships to scientific researchers so they will have funds to continue their research work in the fields of their expertise.

As a chair professor, Yodhathai said those who received scholarships would have to do their research projects to serve the country while training others in the field. The project will also serve the ThaiST's training mission since the chair professor will also help the institute develop courses, Yodhathai said.

The ministry has also talked with the private sector on the idea and it has received support from the private sector to offer scholarships.

In the process, the ministry will set up a committee to select qualified scientific researchers to become chair professors and after two years, the chair professors will be evaluated by another committee.

Pongpen Sutharoj

The Nation

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