Newton Fund scopes out in prevalent channels of bilateral projects derived.

SWISSÔTEL Nai Lert Park, Bangkok, Thailand

12 – 14 September 2016

After a 3-day-long concentrated scoping workshop over the joint research projects under Newton Fund between the pool of expertise from the United Kingdom and Thailand, proposals of 14 constructive project outlines are finally underway to be submitted through the Research Councils UK by the end of October.


        An immediate consequence of the MoU Signing Ceremony between STFC and NARIT was put into work via intense scoping workshop in capacity building in software and hardware infrastructure and data handling through astronomy. 14 UK and 18 Thai experts in astronomy and related fields from various institutions and government agencies were introduced and familiarized to the methodology and implementation of the expected project proposals by Dr. Justin O’Byrne - Astronomy Facilities Programme Manager from STFC. They spent the whole afternoon of September 12th for speed networking and partnering up to form common interests within each team.



        Out of the four main themes which include Mechatronics, VLBI (Very-long-baseline interferometry), Data Handling and Public Outreach to support STEM subjects in schools, attendees went on divided into smaller groups based on their specialties and field of expertise. On the second day of the workshop, they engaged in addressing strengths and challenges whatsoever that might possibly emerge out of their planned projects. The main focus is to highlight the already existing strengths, in order to decrease challenges in development by using astronomy and related fields as a tool due to its unique and cost-effective way to further economic development since technological and scientific revolutions underpin economic advances and improvements in health systems, education and infrastructure. The aspects of development expected hence, are not limited to science, technology and innovation, but rather in a boarder perspective in a long run. Outcomes from these projects will be maximized in their capacity to drive Thai society into the sustainable economy and knowledge-based society.



        The last day of the workshop was dedicated to constructive works presented by representatives of each projects on what they have achieved so far, considering the ongoing works from both institutes, namely the development of infrastructure and capacity in astronomy and astrophysics by NARIT, including several robotic telescopes and Thai VLBI Network (TVN) will now be supported and encouraged to work collaboratively with expert researchers and astronomers from STFC due to its international expertise. Brief outlines of the proposals to be turned in for both STFC and NARIT to consider were also discussed upon during the summary, which will ultimately be summarized and submitted to the Expert Panel back in the UK to grant funding. So far, THB 60 million grant from both UK and Thai agencies has been projected to fund the approved projects.



        Various perceptions to approach and mobilize these proposed 14 projects differ in a wide range of means, from short-term training programs focused on the specific groups of participants, development of certain engineering instruments, to the investment of a worthwhile research innovation. Some of these projects also see the opportunity to join in with the upcoming International Training Centre in Astronomy under the auspices of UNESCO (ITCA) and Southeast Asian Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (SEA-ROAD), both of which NARIT chairs as a host.