489 students from five continents conferred degrees at AIT’s 127th Graduation

Four-hundred-and-eighty-nine students hailing from 27 countries were conferred degrees on the occasion of the 127th Graduation of the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) on 19 May 2017. Graduating students came from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North and South America.

The largest cohort of graduating students came from Sri Lanka (128), followed by Thailand (114), Myanmar (64), India (36), Vietnam (33), Nepal (32), Afghanistan (26), and Pakistan (13). A lone student from Colombia and USA represented their respective continents. Graduating students came from School of Engineering and Technology (289), School of Environment, Resources and Development (155), School of Management (30), and Inter-school programs(10).

Congratulating the graduates, AIT President Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai remarked that AIT is committed to preparing students not just for the needs of today, but more importantly to cater to the global demands of tomorrow. Prof. Worsak mentioned that the world is significantly different from the time when AIT was created in 1959. Today, globalization, the digital revolution, mass migration and the prospect of environment sustainability demands a new generation of graduates. The AIT President stated that the new graduates are now ready to serve as “globally responsible citizens.” 

Graduation speaker (morning session), Dr Kinley Tenzin, Executive Director of the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), Kingdom of Bhutan, stated that he could sense “a lot of energy, passion and promises” among the graduating students.  He asked students to lead by example and become agents of change. “Positive examples are needed today from every individual, mainly from young minds like you who can lead our people and bring change; a change for a better world,” Dr Kinley said.  Stating that humanity was on the cusp of making some important choices and decisions, he regretted that “average American children can recognize 1000 corporate logos but cannot identify 10 plants or animals native to their own region.” (Full text of the speech at this link: https://goo.gl/XaOrtD

Delivering the graduation address (afternoon session), Prof. Alastair M North, encouraged students to engage in forward thinking and lateral thinking. Prof. North, who has been AIT’s longest-serving president (1983-1996), stated that AIT graduates had the honor of graduating from an international university. “No graduate from a national university is as ready to move into an international world as AIT graduates,” Prof. North stressed. Speaking about the middle-income trap that has constricted many developing countries, Prof. North pointed out that though Thailand and Indonesia are the leading rubber producing countries in the world, the tyre business is controlled by companies from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Japan. This has to change, Prof. North added as he suggested a greater focus on research and development.

AIT Alumni Speaker (morning session), Mr Chaiwat Kovavisarach, President and CEO Bangchak Petroleum, stated that AIT has never been short of talented students. AIT students come via different routes and represent different cultures and languages, but they sit next to each other and work as a group. Though AIT students are diverse, speaking different languages, and possessing different customs and traditions, but they are one, Mr Chaiwat added (Full text of the speech at this link: https://goo.gl/gDQsbg).

Speaking about globalization and internationalization, alumni speaker (afternoon session), Prof. Nimal Rajapakse, Professor, School of Engineering Science, Simon Fraser University (SFU), Canada, stated that “No other institution in the world can claim the depth and breadth that AIT has achieved with respect to internationalization of its core activities and campus community.” He also stressed the need to recognize that solutions to most pressing problems are found at the intersection of many disciplines. ‘Think about specialists in robotics and sensors working on crop monitoring using drones and fusion of sensors, wireless technology, and bioinformatics for medical diagnosis in remote villages,” Prof. Rajapakse remarked. He concluded by asking students to “lead the world in everything” they do, following the footsteps of your alma mater. (Full text of the speech at this link: https://goo.gl/hT6sz2). 

The Graduation ceremony honored Prof Karl Weber, Prof Gajendra Singh and Prof Tawatchai Tingsanchali with the title of Emeritus Professors.  (Links: https://goo.gl/1oHV3phttps://goo.gl/QObXDm, and https://goo.gl/VqPbLj). 

Dr Weerakorn Ongsakul and Dr Barbara Igel were promoted to the rank of Professors (Links:https://goo.gl/oLWajThttps://goo.gl/AzqRMA). 

Dr Idah Andriyani and Mr Abiral Pant delivered an address on behalf of Doctoral and Master’s students respectively of SERD and SOM; while Dr Nosheen Sahir and Muhammad Danish delivered the address on behalf of students of SET.

AIT Distinguished Teacher Awards of 2016 were conferred upon Dr Pham Huy Giao of Geotechnical Engineering, SET (category of fewer than 15 students), and Dr Vimolwan Yukongdi of SOM (category of 15 or more students). The teaching award is based on student evaluation and feedback for courses taught in 2016. AIT Distinguished Researcher Awards for 2016 were conferred upon Dr Mongkol Ekpanyapong of Industrial Systems Engineering, SET (Junior Research Leader Category), and Prof. Mukand Singh Babel of Water Engineering and Management, SET. 

Intermission numbers during the graduation ceremony were provided by students of the AIT International School. 

Prof. Sivanappan Kumar, Vice President for Academic Affairs was the Master of Ceremonies. Prof. Mukand Singh Babel, Chairperson, Academic Senate,  presented the decisions of the Senate to the assembly. Deans of the respective schools, Prof. Voratas Kachitvichyanukul of School of Engineering and Technology (SET); Prof. Rajendra Kumar Shrestha of School of Environment, Resources and Development (SERD); and Prof. Lawrence S. Abeln of School of Management (SOM) presented their respective graduates.

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