UBC hosts pulp and paper students from the flooded Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand

The worst flooding Thailand’s experienced in years started in August, but it reached the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in October. With an inhabitable campus recovering from being flooded with two metres of water, UBC has stepped up to make it possible for a small group of master’s students to complete their degrees in pulp and paper technologies.

The flood

On the night of October 20th faculty, staff and students at AIT banded together with residents in the area and the Royal Thai Army to help strengthen dykes that would save the campus. By the 21st the plan had to be abandoned – around 600 people were safely evacuated from the campus, and just hours after they left the water started to pour into the buildings. By the morning everything was completely flooded with water levels up to two metres.

In just five weeks of work in a temporary office set up after the flooding, AIT managed to provide its students with academic classes at various other locations at a start date of December 6th – earlier than the start dates of other impacted universities.

UBC steps up to the plate

For graduate students working with specialized lab equipment like the equipment in AIT’s Pulp and Paper Laboratory, just any location wasn’t enough. When AIT reached out to the international community to find research places and supervisors for their graduate students to finish their programs, UBC came forward.

At the time, Professor James Olson, the director of UBC’s Pulp and Paper Centre, was supervising Ms. Pattira Pattarasopachai, a visiting graduate student from AIT, who was conducting experimental research at UBC. UBC offered to take on four master’s students as visiting scholars at the Pulp and Paper Centre – which has an international reputation for high quality, industry focused research in the pulp and paper industry. Up to $5500 per student was provided to cover travel, living and other expenses during their four month stay here. As all that’s needed to complete their studies is conducting research in specialized pulp and paper laboratories and completing their theses, the students will not be paying tuition, as is standard practice.

Meeting the students

Professor Peter Englezos, head of Chemical and Biological Engineering, will take on Zulfauzein Nadra, completing his Master of Engineering in wet-end chemistry, Professor Sheldon Green will take on Dimas Dwi Prasetyo Nugroho, completing his Master in Engineering in minimization of electrical power consumption in paper mills and Professor Mark Martinez will take on Sri Wahdini Rahmi, completing her Master of Engineering in refining/dewatering.

The students arrive March 1. It is anticipated they will graduate in Sept. UBC and the Pulp and Paper Centre are very pleased and willing to help the AIT students complete their master’s studies at this difficult time for the Asian Institute of Technology.