Earlier this month, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided over the ceremony to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT).
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn poses along with other inductees of the AIT Hall of Fame. To her immediate right and left are Prof Said Irandoust, PhD, AIT president, and Tej Bunnag, PhD, chairperson of AIT’s board of trustees, respectively. COURTESY OF AIT
She became the first inductee into the new Hall of Fame of the institute, followed by 11 outstanding AIT alumni from five countries in the Asian region, namely, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Pakistan and Indonesia.
At the event, HRH Princess Sirindhorn was officially inducted and presented with the inaugural AIT Hall of Fame trophy by Tej Bunnag, PhD, a former foreign minister of Thailand and chairperson of AIT's board of trustees.
HRH the Princess obtained a certificate from AIT in remote sensing technology in 1984. She applied her knowledge of remote sensing technology to map land use in Thailand's southern province of Narathiwat.
In addition, she supported the institution with donations, gave her backing to technology education and the implementation of technology to develop land areas, and promoted AIT as a centre of technology and education.
The princess was conferred an honorary Doctor of Technology by AIT in 1989.
The other inductees were Subin Pinkayan, PhD; Prof Srisakdi Charmonman, PhD; Prof Anat Arbhabhirama, PhD; Tongchat Hongladaromp, PhD; Prof Ricardo Palabrica Pama, PhD; Shamsuddin M. Qureshi, PhD; Prasert Patramai, PhD; Shih-Yi George Chen; Yen Yi Tseng; Boonsrang Niumpradit, PhD; and Prof Djoko Santoso.
"The achievements of each Hall of Fame inductee can serve to inspire AIT's alumni to pursue careers that apply technology, engineering, resources, and development and management for the betterment of all peoples and for our fragile planet," remarked HRH Princess Sirindhorn.
Prof Alastair M. North, PhD, a former AIT president and chairperson of the committee that selected the inductees, said, "Each individual chosen should have a career that is aligned with the objective of AIT, which is to produce successful, well-educated persons who are dedicated to the development of the countries in [Asia]."
Prof North added that the persons should have helped the institution in some way or other, such as generating student recruitment, financial or academic support.
HRH Princess Sirindhorn also presided over the official launch of the Friends of AIT Heritage Foundation (Faith Foundation).
Through the collaboration of AIT alumni, the Faith Foundation is now in the process of being registered. The foundation was started with a royal seed donation of 1 million baht from HRH Princess Sirindhorn.
Consequently, the institute has formulated a 7-year fundraising plan, covering 2010 to 2016, with expectations of raising 1 billion baht from alumni and the public. The campaign is conducted under the slogan "For the Creative Global Leaders of Tomorrow".
According to Mr Worsak Kanok-Nukuichai, vice-president for resource development at AIT, the institute will establish an investment committee to manage and invest the funds through a variety of channels.
The profits from the investments will be spent on funding world-class visiting academics to conduct joint research and collaborative-teaching at AIT as well as for providing scholarships to students worldwide to enable them to study at AIT.
A portion of the donations received will be set aside immediately to fund visiting overseas scholars.
The campaign has launched its "silent phase", wherein the institution raises funds through its alumni, faculties, board of trustees and other AIT affiliates. At the moment, the foundation has secured 16.44 million baht.
"The public phase will follow when we reach 40 percent of our goal," said the vice-president.
Mr Subin, who has donated 2 million baht to the foundation, expressed concern that the institution's reputation is declining and urged that the school spend money as soon as possible to attract renowned visiting scholars to the institution.
"If word goes out that AIT has outstanding teachers, exceptional students from all around the world will come to study in Thailand at AIT," said Subin.
Mr Worsak disclosed that the institution expects to establish an award under the name of HRH Princess Sirindhorn to be granted to visiting academics from overseas. It is anticipated that 10 overseas scholars will visit the institution each year.