On Monday, 3 July 2006, SEAFCO Public Company Limited and AIT entered into an agreement that will provide two scholarships for master's degree students and make provisions for joint research projects.
SEAFCO is a leading provider of deep foundation works, comprising large bored piling, diaphragm walling and substructure construction in Thailand.
A memorandum of agreement between SEAFCO and AIT on research collaboration and the establishment of "Supot Thasnanipan Scholarship" was signed by Mr. Narong Thasnanipan, president of SEAFCO, Mr. Tachapong Pravesvararat, chairman of SEAFCO, Prof. Vilas Wuwongse, AIT vice president for external relations, on behalf of AIT President Said Irandoust, and Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai, dean of the School of Engineering and Technology.
Addressing at the MoA signing ceremony, Mr. Narong Thasnanipan, president of SEAFCO, said that SEAFCO and AIT will collaborate in research work on deep foundation and will establish a "Supot Thasnaipan Scholarships" program in dedication and memory of the late Mr. Supot Thasnanipan, the founder of SEAFCO and a former AIT student.
The collaboration will provide opportunities for SEAFCO Research and Development team to participate in leading-edge academic research networks and strengthen their international research experience, under the Co-operative Research Initiative Program. SEAFCO will form the partnership with AIT's School of Engineering and Technology to exchange technical and academic information and materials, arrange joint seminars and organize joint research programs.
The scholarship program, amounting to 1.9 million baht, consists of the funding of two master's degree students of Thai nationality to further their studies in the field of Geotechnical and Geo-environmental Engineering (with specialization in foundation engineering). The two-year scholarship program will cover one scholarship per year from August 2006 to August 2008. SEAFCO will further provide additional funding and other forms of support to the students in conducting field experiments of their thesis work in piled foundation and deep excavation research.
"The company can survive if the engineering society can survive first. Thirty years ago, our company was small but we realized the importance of technology that can progress with the support from research. Since 1922, our company survived from economic crisis because we emphasized on research," Mr. Narong pointed out.
He mentioned that many AIT graduates from various nationalities joined SEAFCO after graduation and together with the company's operations staff produced research papers for presentations in seminars in Thailand which received good feedbacks from academics. Later, more research papers were produced and presented by them in the seminars/conferences organized in several countries. These inspired other engineers in the company to be more eager to write the research papers. Some alumni from AIT could obtain doctoral scholarships through the research papers they did at SEAFCO. They later became good business partners with SEAFCO as well as those who after working with the company a few years and then worked in their own countries and other countries.
Mr. Narong also said that the scholarship was named after Mr. Supot, the founder of the company because during his leadership he inspired that when the company's business grows the company needs to create human resources. Now, the company is in the position to contribute to the society, Mr. Norong followed what Mr. Supot suggested.
"Even though these two scholarships are not much, but it is the good beginning that lights up the engineering society in Thailand. I, as a committee member of the company, is proud to establish the scholarship program for AIT which is a major institute of Thailand, "Mr. Narong concluded.
In his thank you note Prof. Vilas Wuwongse, vice president for external relations, said, "I think SEAFCO's founder, Mr. Supot Thasnaipan, a former AIT student himself, and in whose name the scholarships are offered, would be proud of today's turn of events. Through its generous contribution establishing two master's scholarships in the field of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, SEAFCO is wisely investing in the future of the human resources of its industry. Additionally, today marks the beginning of a new partnership to exchange technical and academic information and materials, to arrange joint seminars and to organize joint research programs. It is for these reasons I liken today's agreement to a foundation. On it we can perhaps build a future that enables both parties to attain new heights".
He added that more and more, the private sector is seeing the values of making such investments not only in current students who may someday become part of their industry, but also in such areas as research and development and the training of its own employees in the form of professional master's programs and short-term training courses.
Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai, dean of school of engineering and technology, said in his welcome speech that AIT has today changed from a purely teaching and research institute to industry-connected research institute. Since his arrival, the current President of AIT (Professor Said Irandoust) encourages AIT faculty to get their feet down to the earth and work hand-in-hand in partnership with the industries. This to-day event is a true testimonial of what really happens because of this policy. "This occasion is a small step but a giant first step, and I hope that many of our alumni in the construction industries would be able to join SEAFCO in giving something back to AIT. The best way is to join AIT in assisting the younger generation of AIT's potential students through scholarship donation, because they are not as lucky as we were in the past in enjoying the plentiful supports of many donor countries", he emphasized