International Experience in Thailand 2017

Coordinated by Professor Brent Williams, Research Associate, Ray Ehrhard and Lecturer, Janie Brennan, the 10th International Experience class visited Bangkok, Thailand in the summer of 2017.

The 2017 MAGEEP International Experience Program took us to Bangkok, Thailand. This was the tenth International Program trip sponsored by the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering. This year's group consisted of ten Washington University students, two University of Queensland students, and two Washington University faculty and staff. Our MAGEEP host for the two week program was Chulalongkorn University. Chulalongkorn University is a top rated university with a student enrollment of almost 40,000. The group also visited Kasersart University and King Mongkut's University of Technology.

The goal of the MAGEEP Summer Experience program is to gain and understanding in global issues engineers will be facing and engaging the students in engineering studies and research conducted at a MAGEEP partner university. The students attended lectures on a variety of Chemical and Environmental Engineering-related topics, including water management, atmospheric aerosol research, nanoparticle research, renewable energy, and environmental concerns in petroleum production. We visited many research laboratories and pilot plants including; solar cells, biopharmaceutical, ethanol, sensor technologies, aerosols, and others.

One of the industrial field trips included a visit to the Thailand Ministry of Natural Resources Pollution Control Department's automobile emission laboratory. Like many large urban cities Bangkok is overwhelmed with many automobiles and traffic gridlock adding to the regional air pollution problems. The students were able to see how the government is analyzing vehicle emissions and conducting models for improved conditions. The students also toured a petrochemical plant that manufactures purified terephthalic acid (PTA). During that field visit we were not only shown the process operation, but also the complexity of utility processes and equipment supporting the production process. Visits to University and other research labs presented the students an understanding of the focused research each university was pursuing and the common environmental and energy issues we face globally.

An important aspect of the trip is to experience the culture and people of Thailand. We attended a Survival Thai Language class on learning to speak the Thai language which helped us as we toured the city. We had many opportunities to taste the assortment of Thai foods filled with traditional spices. Among some of the sites we toured included; Khao chi Chan Buddha, Pattaya floating market, Thai Art and Culture Village, Bang Pa In Royal Palace, The Grand Palace sites and more. A highlight was a weekend trip to Phuket and touring the Phi Phi Islands. The Washington University and University of Queensland students spent these two weeks learning together. We were fortunate to have several Chulalongkorn students accompany us during our time together.

This trip allowed students to see and experience the beauty, history, and future of Thailand. Many international friendships were made and greater appreciations of global issues were realized by the students as they continue their education.