Issue06 : 23 June 2014

Mr Tokumitsu Kobayashi and JICA’s staff in Thailand
Mr Tokumitsu Kobayashi and AUN/SEED-Net’s staff in Thailand

Over a decade ago ten ASEAN countries embarked upon an engineering education journey. Now in its third phase, the project is bridging the gap between academia and industry.

Often the seeds of our future industrial growth are sown in the lecture halls and laboratories of today. This is certainly true of the AUN/SEED-Net, a technical cooperation project implemented by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Commenced in 2001, AUN/SEED-Net – or to give its full title the ASEAN University Network/Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network – comprises of 26 leading engineering institutions from ten ASEAN countries and 14 support universities from Japan. The project aims to increase the educational and research capacities of member institutions in ASEAN countries.

“Initially, leading universities in engineering from Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan cooperated to build up human resources for the engineering fields through scholarships, collaborative research, field-wise seminars and the Japanese professor dispatch programme,” explains Tokumitsu Kobayashi, unit chief of AUN/SEED-Net.


In Thailand, the five universities participating in the programme are Chulalongkorn University, King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, Burapha University, Kasetsart University and Thammasat University.

The project has four main arms – a postgraduate degree programme, a research programme, a mobility and networking programme and a university-industry linkage programme, which was newly introduced in 2013. Now embarked upon its third phase (March 2013 to March 2018) AUN/SEED-Net will focus on the final aspect of the scheme – fostering exchange between university and industry.

“Now, we are moving forward to expand the linkage with the industrial sector in each country of our member institutions,” says Kobayashi. This will provide the opportunity for the project to introduce member institutions, academic staff as well as research topics, to both ASEAN and Japanese industries.

Beyond its original aims which highlight research and academia, there have been broader ranges of minor collaborations between industries and universities. SEED-Net therefore clearly defines its aim to seek mutual development through collaborative research. To date, Collaborative Research with Industry (CRI) programme gives an opportunity for member universities to work even closer with industry. Engineering issues found in real life operation can be solved by academic experts while industrial companies help with the financial support for CRI. In addition, promotional activities such as publication of the engineering directory in four countries enable companies to explore the capacity of member institutions. Industrial events and expos also provide a good opportunity for industry to explore new research and know-how straight from universities.

Though AUN/SEED-Net’s major objective is to focus on the research and educational capacity of the member institutions, the University-Industry Linkage Programme is paving the way for the sustainable future in the engineering industry of the Southeast Asian region.

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Words by Phraewphan Puangkasem