Today, on the 100th Anniversary of Dr. Puey Ungphakorn’s birth on March 9, 1916, the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) joins UNESCO, Thailand and the world in celebrating the enormous life accomplishments of the man who was so instrumental to its modern day success.
Thailand’s legendary academician and public servant once dreamt that his country would be home to renowned research intensive institutes striving for scientific breakthroughs of benefit to society. At AIT – an international institute near and dear to Dr. Puey’s heart – his wish has become a reality.
“The recent success of AIT in securing the overall top rating in research impact of the country’s universities by Thailand Research Fund (TRF), is one of the best gifts we can give to Dr. Puey for his birth centenary celebration,” said AIT President Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai, marking the day.
AIT was rated highest in Thailand in seven disciplines. Civil Engineering, Industrial Systems Engineering, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Energy, and Environmental Engineering and Management received a perfect rating score of 5, while Regional and Rural Development Planning and Aquaculture and Aquatic Resources Management each led the nation.
Indeed, Dr. Puey played an instrumental role in transforming the former SEATO Graduate School of Engineering, which was about to be closed down in 1968, into today's Asian Institute of Technology. He was the institute’s inaugural chairman, serving as Chairman of the AIT Board of Trustees from 1968-1973. He also helped in securing a permanent campus location for AIT from the Royal Thai Government.
At a time when very few educators heard about ‘research universities’ in Asia, let alone in Thailand, Dr. Puey expressed many times that he wanted to see AIT set a good example as research university for the country’s universities to follow. “AIT wishes to thank Dr. Puey,” President Worsak said.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is marking the birth centenary of Dr. Puey Ungphakorn worldwide. The resolution for celebrating Dr. Puey’s 100th birth anniversary was accepted at the 38th General Conference of UNESCO held last year.
Dr. Puey was one of Thailand's foremost economists and educators. He served as Governor of the Bank of Thailand from 1957 to 1971. He was the Rector of Thammasat University from 1975 to 1976, and was the recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1965. Dr. Puey passed away in London, UK, on 28 July 1999, at the age of 83.