ITinIsan - bridging the digital divide by dcc48652



                                 SERD Students Win Best Paper Awards from U.S.A.

                                       The International Air and
                             Waste Management Association
Vol. 1 No. 1 June 15, 2002

                             (A&WMA) West Coast Section (USA)
                             recently awarded two AIT students
                             best paper awards in recognition of
                             their research on mitigating the harmful
                             effects of air pollution.
                                                                            Prapat         Zhang
                                                                                             see page 4

                                ITinIsan - bridging the digital divide
                                       Come to Bangkok, and despite the five-year economic malaise
                             that continues to afflict most countries in the region, it is easy to get
                             lulled into believing that Thailand has embraced the global IT revolution
                             with a vengeance. Travel to Som Wilai village in Udon Thani province,
                                                                                               see page 7


                                 AIT Board of Trustees Meetings
                                      The AIT Board of Trustees met most recently on April 25, with
                             the meeting chaired by H.E. Anand Panyarachun. The meeting approved
                             the establishment of a Gender Equality Panel, which will promote gender
                             equality in AIT's work, and will ensure that AIT's gender-related goals in
                             research and education activities are met. The panel is to be chaired by
                             Professor Mari Osawa, President of the Institute of Social Science at

                                                                                             see page 5

                                     President's Message/ From the Editor                       p. 2-3
                                     News                                                       p. 4-5
                                     What's Going On                                            p. 6
                                     Features                                                   p. 7-8

          This is the first issue of the AIT Newsletter. It will be published every two weeks, and we hope
that this most welcome initiative will contribute to strengthening the sense of community among faculty,
staff and students. With the same goal in mind, we are also exploring the feasibility of publishing a Thai-
language version of the Newsletter. AIT has until now relied mostly on the 'intraweb' for internal
communications, and this will continue to be a most important medium for us. But it is time now to
supplement this with other media, including television and a complete revamping of printed material. A
specific reform program has been dedicated for this purpose and the communication services, together
with all promotional and public relations activities of the Institute are being reorganized as part of the
ongoing reform.

          The launching of a fortnightly AIT Newsletter is a significant step aimed at enhancing the
internal communications with the Institute. The AIT Newsletter will be very different to the former
Bulletin, and this first issue tries to set the tone for what we hope to achieve. Some sections will be quite
familiar, as a major purpose of the AIT Newsletter is to ensure that people are well informed about
changes and decisions that affect them. But more importantly, we want to create real interest in the work
that people are doing - to tell lively stories about the many wonderful things that people are doing at AIT.

         I would like to take this opportunity to introduce Ms Nittaya Katkasem who has joined AIT as
Coordinator of the Promotional Support Services Unit (PSSU), and will be leading efforts to revitalize print
and web media at AIT. I am also pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Jonathan Shaw as Editor-In-
Chief of the AIT Newsletter. Dr Shaw has long assisted the administration in various aspects of internal
and external commuincations, including the editing and publishing of thed proceedings of the AIT
Donors Meeting, held in October 2000.

         All members of the AIT community are encouraged and invited to forward their contributions in
this important initiative.

                                                                             Professor Jean-Louis Armand


 From the Editor
        Do you know what's really happening at AIT? I don't mean who's visiting, or who's
been appointed to what positions, although knowing these things is important too. What I
mean is the actual work that colleagues in the Schools and AIT Extension are doing - and
how that work actually contributes to achieving what AIT exists to do.

         Much of this will involve our making research work accessible and exciting - rather
as the BBC does with Tomorrow's World, or many of the programs on the Discovery
Channel (did anyone see the brilliant recent program about two professors investigating the
monk who had mummified himself at a temple on Koh Samui?). In print, we'd like to tell
the kind of stories found in Scientific American, or perhaps in the Science and Technology
pages of the Economist. And we also want to be able to tell everyone about some of the
very wonderful teaching and training programs that are being set up, and changes to
ongoing programs, including work done at AIT Vietnam.

         The Newsletter team will be talking to the Schools and AIT Extension about how
to realize our editorial goals. To provide a taste, we've included a feature in the first issue
on a great project to bring IT to orphans and children with disadvantaged backgrounds in
Northeast Thailand. We want to give credit to students who excel, and are therefore
featuring work on air pollution by two award-winning students in SERD. And we are
bringing news to the community about the Board of Trustees and the Executive
Committee. The next issue will start describing AIT's research, with short features about
the work featured so far in the UBC TV series on Technology with AIT. But we also hope
that you will be inspired to let us have stories about your work. Every issue will also carry
information about AIT, and things you should know about as part of the community.

        Finally, I'd like to join the President in welcoming Ms Nittaya Katkasem to the AIT
community. Khun Nittaya is an experienced journalist and editor, with a strong background
in marketing and news media. As someone who has been at AIT rather longer, I'll be
working closely with Nittaya and her team - Natnipa, Bernie, Apichart and Wiwat - and with
Karma Rana and Jean-Philippe Thouard in the President's Office.

        We hope you enjoy this first issue.

        Jon Shaw


    AIT SERD Students Won Best Paper Awards (Continued from p. 1)

          Ms. Zhang Baoning received her award in       technology would help its wider application. There
the doctoral student category, and Mr. Prapat           are also aesthetic concerns: a better design is needed
Pongkiatkul received his award in the masters degree    to make buses and trucks more attractive. This needs
student category. Zhang and Prapat will present their   the funding support from the Thai government or
papers and receive their awards at the 95th Annual      other environment-related organizations, he said.
A&WMA Conference to be held in Baltimore, USA
June 23-27 (                                       Prapat completed his research in eight
                                                        months with the support of AIT and the Swedish
           Prapat's paper reported research carried     International Development Cooperation Agency
out for his masters thesis, which he completed under    (Sida). He is now working as a Research Associate in
the advisorship of Dr Nguyen thi Kim Oanh in            UEEM program, helping Masters students in
August last year. The 24-year-old Bangkokian's work     UEEM's air pollution research program.
is surely of interest to anyone who has ever tried to
walk along a street in Prapat's hometown: what can                Zhang's paper was entitled "Photochemical
be done to reduce the impact on people in the street    Ozone Pollution and Simulation Results for Bangkok
of pollutants emitted by vehicles such as buses and     Metropolitan Area". Zhang - whose advisor is also
trucks fuelled by diesel? Prapat's work investigated    Dr Oanh - focused on ozone levels in Bangkok and
the benefits of discharging exhaust upwards rather      metropolitan areas and how to reduce emissions
than backwards (and straight into the faces of          causing the ozone in these areas. Her research shows
pedestrians and motorcyclists).                         that ozone emitted from both the natural environment
                                                        (such as plants and trees) and human activities (such
          Prapat himself takes up the story: "As you    as from cars, manufacturing and cooking food) can be
know, exhaust gas from both diesel trucks and buses     reduced by using natural gas instead of diesel for
in Bangkok has the potential to cause severe health     buses and power plants. Changing motorcycles with
effects. Therefore, what I did was to extend the        two-stroke engines to four strokes will help reduce
exhaust pipe of a diesel-powered six-wheel air-         pollution as well.
conditioned bus from the original height of 0.52
meter above road level to a level above the bus of                Zhang, a 36-year-old doctoral candidate in
around four meters by capping a new pipe on the         the UEEM program, comes from Shijiazhuang, a city
original one," said Prapat. He found that this          300 kilometers from Beijing, China, where most of
innovation would result in lower ambient pollution      the two million population work in manufacturing
concentrations of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons         and public utilities. Zhang works as a lecturer in
and particulate matter. The proposed modification       Environmental Science and Engineering Department,
would cost between Bt. 1,500 and 2,000 for each         Hebei University of Science and Technology
bus.                                                    (HUST). She has been in Thailand for more than
                                                        three years and is now in her eleventh term.
          Prapat carried out a survey amongst the
general public and specific groups affected, such as
drivers, manufacturers and owners. The technology                 Zhang spent three years on this research. "I
appears generally acceptable to the public, although    feel so happy to receive this best paper award since
truck and bus owners are reluctant to pay even the      it took me such a long…long time," she said.
modest costs involved. Some subsidy for the

   AIT Board of Trustees (Continued from p. 1)

the Univesity of Tokyo. The first meeting will be on July 2002.

        AIT will work with the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC) to improve its curriculum
and raise the quality of its education to international standards. A proposal was presented by H.
E. Mr. Pok Than, Secretary of State for Education in Cambodia and the Chairman of ITC's Board.
ITC is an active partner of the Greater Mekong Sub region Academic Network (GMSARN) which
was established in January 2001, the Secretariat of which is based at AIT.

         AIT's new Academic Advisory Panel will meet for the first time on 19 August 2002.

        The Executive Committee meeting on May 23 was chaired by Mr. Viroj Phutrakul. The
Executive Committee approved the award of a 1.55% CoLA, based on the official cost of living
index for Bangkok. The award is for all direct-hire faculty and staff, with everyone receiving a
minimum of Baht 300, backdated with effect from 1 January 2002.
Pending finalization of a new personnel policy and remuneration package, the Executive
Committee also approved the administration's proposal for a merit increase for faculty and staff
whose performance is deemed to be satisfactory. The increase will take effect from 1 July 2002,
and is based on existing faculty and staff salary scales.

         Staff - all permanent and non-permanent local-hire staff currently at steps 1 - 12 will
receive a one step increase, amounting to approximately a 5.5% increment on base salary. Staff
currently at step 13 will receive a 2.5% increment on base salary. International staff and staff
who were formerly International staff will receive a one-step increase, equal to at least 2.5% of
base salary; those in the last category who have reached the ceiling will receive a 2.5% increase.

         Faculty - all Instructors, all
Assistant Professors and for
Associate Professor currently on
steps 1 - 9 will receive a 3.5%
adjustment to their base salary.
Associate Professors currently on
steps 10 - 20, and all Professors up
to step 12 will receive a 2.5%
adjustment to base salary, and
Professors on steps 13 - 20 will
receive 1.5%.

                                   What 's        going on
                   RTG Doctoral and Master's Degree Fellowships The Royal Thai Government is
    offering fellowships during 2002-2003 to qualified Thais to study at AIT. Fellowships for the September
    2002 intake are available in any field of study in SCE and SOM. Applicants should apply before June
    15, 2002. Application forms are downloadable from Please
    contact or for further details.

                AIT Celebrates the World Environment Day To celebrate World Environment
    Day, SERD invites all AITians to join AIT's essay and poster contest on the theme "AIT and Its Role as
    Change Agent for Earth Sustainability". Submission date for your entries to either contest is Friday,
    June 28, 2002. More details are in the Bulletin online: NewsAndEvents/bulletin.cfm

                 Call for Papers for the ASEAN Journal on Science &Technology for
             Development (AJSTD) Thailand has accepted and taken the editorship of AJSTD from
    June 2002 to May 2005. All AIT faculty, staff, and students are welcomed to contribute original scientific
    works on any aspects related to science and technology for consideration for publication in the Journal.
    The AJSTD is a refereed Journal of the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology (ASEAN
             Manuscripts should be sent to Associate Professor Dr. Narongrit Sombatsompop (Editor-in-
    Chief), School of Energy and Materials, KMUTT, Bangkok 10140 Thailand. Tel (66-2) 470-8645. Fax
    (66-2) 470-8614. Email:

                  Cultural Events The AIT Student Union is organizing a program of cultural activities
    for the AIT community. Activities start on June 20 with folk dances and music from the Indian state of
    Rajasthan courtesy of the Indian Embassy in Bangkok. The perfomance will be at the AIT Conference
    Center Auditorium starting at 6 pm. Further activities are being scheduled, and will be announced

                  UBC 8's Technology with AIT On Saturday June 15, Technology with AIT will
    feature Professor Dennes Bergado's work on the Prefabricated Vertical Band Drain (PVD) ground
    improvement project at Bangkok's new international airport. The following Saturday, June 22, the
    program will feature Dr. Barbara Igel's research on technology ventures for Thai entrepreneurs.
    Programs are shown on UBC 8 at 5 p.m. AITians can watch the program on our campus network:

                Please Pick up Your New Blue Cross Card AIT faculty and staff members whose
    Blue Cross cards have expired since April 1, 2002 should pick up their new cards from HRO.

                 Medical Check Up Staff members of the Offices of the President, Provost, Treasurer,
    Registrar and Secretary to the Board of Trustees are requested to have their yearly medical check up at
    the AIT Medical Clinic during the month of June 2002.

                European Film Festival The 11th European Union Film Festival will take place at the
    Emporium from 13th until 23th June 2002. See for details.


  ITinIsan - bridging the digital divide (Continued from p. 1)

and a different picture emerges, one still truer    unique to countries such as Thailand, and
of the country as a whole. The local primary        have drawn on experience in their native
school looks pretty much the same as it has         Sweden to set up ITinIsan.
done for the past twenty years, which means                  In the mid-1990s, the Swedish
that most kids in the village grow up without       government in partnership with industry,
ever seeing a computer, let alone acquiring the     started SwIT, to train new IT professionals
basic keyboard and mouse skills they need to        for Swedish industry. As in Thailand today, a
start acquiring the basic computer literacy that    recession had afflicted the economy; the
might get them an office job in Udon Thani          increasing gap between required and available
city.                                               IT skills, it was agreed, would delay the
          This is the digital divide that we hear   recovery of the economy. So SwIT, aimed at
so much about. It’s got nothing to do with          training more than 10,000 people, was
ability, and everything to with opportunity —       launched.
the affluent middle-class teenager in Bangkok                SwIT had a flat organization, using
has a tremendous advantage over the isolated        the Internet for administration and
and poor farmer’s daughter in Isan. At the          communication. A central staff of four and
same time — despite AIT’s best efforts —            some 60 project managers were spread
Thailand, like its neighbours, has critical         around the country. Project managers
shortages of people with valuable IT skills. Is     identified IT skills by interviewing individual
it possible perhaps that some of the kids in        companies. This proved to be one of the
Som Wilai have the potential to help bridge the     major success factors of the whole
divide?                                             programme. Staying close to the market was
         The divide is also getting more            key, training only for what companies
divisive, and sometimes it doesn’t seem as if       demanded. SwIT reached its targets of
there is much that those of us on this side can     making some 80% of participants employable.
do about it — even if we do provide the             About 80% of trainees were unemployed
hardware, who teaches the kids how to use it?       when they started their IT training. Sven and
Who maintains it? Who makes sure that the           Kerstin were employed as consultants, party
stuff doesn’t walk? And if it needs to be           to designing and implementing this
securely locked up, is anyone going to be able      programme.
to use it? Better wring our hands, and do                    To test the belief that the basic model
nothing.                                            was transferable, they launched two pilot
         Sven Mauleon and Kerstin Ahlzen,           projects on teacherless IT learning in the
partners in OpenmindProjects, don’t think so.       northeast of Thailand, setting up IT “play &
They also don’t believe that the problems are       (Continued on p. 8)
(Continued from p. 7)

learn” learning groups at two                                           about language barriers and,
orphanages for children aged                                            most of all, how to generate
between 6 and 20. Each pilot                                            new coaches out of each
project was planned initially                                           individual programme —
for a duration of six months.                                           the very reason for the
The first project was started                                           initiative”.
at the Nong Khai Home for                                                     What Sven and Kerstin
Boys, an orphanage for                                                  are presently doing is
some 120 boys in early                                                  refining a model for future
2001; in May this year, the                                             IT self-learning
sixth learning group was started in Ban Nam        programmes. If their reasoning works,
Som, 100 km from Nong Khai.                        programmes may multiply without the need for
         The project goal is to come as close as   large numbers of IT teachers, a cost effective
possible to creating the social IT learning        way to start bridging the IT gap. With
conditions of the privileged youngster, learning   companies and universities upgrading
by doing and playing at home and with a            computers, printers and peripheral equipment
network of friends. So the ‘IT shop’ should        every two or three years, projects such as this
ideally contain the same elements as the ones      can help put older equipment to good use.
found in the IT home of a young Swede, or his      In the final analysis, no nation can afford not to
peers in Bangkok, although an IT shop may be       do its best to fulfill the whole potential of its
based in a temple, or any other public place in    whole population. It is the only way to stay
the village. Learning and playing are integrated   competitive in a global race — the outcome of
with practical tasks. Powerpoint and the           which will be determined by knowledge.
Internet are usually the first applications
mastered; Excel comes much later.
         Pedagogically, the approach used          AIT is committed to exploring and promoting
draws on what is known as problem-based            innovative ideas to enable rural communities to
learning (PBL). But perhaps the most striking      enjoy the benefits of ICTs. AIT has recently
feature of ItinIsan is that it is teacherless.     donated two PCs to ITinIsan.
Instead of teachers, the projects use ‘coaches’    Find out more about Sven Mauleon and his
— young people who are self-taught computer        work at
users. As Sven and Kerstin note, “we are           and
learning about critical success factors when       AIT IT Master Plan is available at
implementing teacherless IT programs, about
motivation, about useful pedagogical IT tools,     2004.pdf

          Comments or contributions to this Newsletter are welcome: please email to

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