During the recent ALICE week, 8- 12 October 2012, the Suranaree University of Technology (SUT) became a Full Member of the ALICE collaboration. SUT has been an associate member since 18 November 2011 and one of the first Thai universities that worked closely with CERN.
Founded in the early 1990s, SUT was first involved with ALICE through the ‘Thai-CERN Committee’ under the Royal Patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. It is one in many projects to which HRH Princess Sirindhorn has devoted herself and put a lot of effort in promoting science in Thailand as well as the collaboration between Thai institutes and CERN.
The Suranaree University of Technology shows a strong commitment to academic excellence and continuously invests in the enhancement of research potentials. As a result, SUT has been ranked first in the field of physics in Thailand for the last three years. Following the high academic reputation that SUT has in Thailand, the next move is to seek international recognition among the physics communities worldwide. The participation of SUT in the ‘Thai-CERN Committee’ and the Full Membership in the ALICE experiment are important steps towards this direction.
The Suranaree University of Technology is one of the leading institutes in Thailand in the fields of Physics and Applied Sciences with a long academic record.
The first contact of SUT with ALICE was done through a connection with GSI in Germany back in 2009. It took several visits until Dr. Chinorat from SUT and Paolo Giubellino, ALICE spokesperson, proposed SUT’s plans to become an associate member of ALICE to the Management and later to the Collaboration Board. Subsequently, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between SUT and ALICE in February 2011 by Prof. Prasart Suebka, the Rector of SUT, Chinorat as the team leader of the particle physics group at SUT, the Chairperson of the Collaboration Board Peter Braun-Munzinger and ALICE Spokesperson Paolo Giubellino.
Following the signing of the MoU, SUT has set up a plan to improve an existing grid site that would extend the global computer network used for analysing data in South-East Asia. With the support from the ‘Thai-CERN committee’, SUT hosted the 2nd CERN School Thailand, 23 April – 4 May 2012. Two ALICE members, Federico Antinori and Karel Safarik, were among the speakers. This was an attempt of the particle physics group at SUT to recruit more students for working in projects related to CERN. SUT also organised the 13th PANDA Grid Workshop and the 3rd AliEn Developers Week in Thailand, 7-11 may 2012. Participants from CERN included Federico Carminati, Latchezar Betev and Pablo Saiz.
2nd CERN School Thailand 2012 with ALICE senior physicists Federico Antinori and Karel Safarik and Emmanuel Tsesmelis - CERN DG’s office.
As an ALICE associate member, Chinorat’s vision was that SUT would become a full ALICE member and further benefit from the ALICE collaboration both in the fields of heavy-ion physics and also from the technological challenges present in ALICE. On the 12th of October SUT has been unanimously approved as one of the two new members of the ALICE Collaboration and an upcoming MoU between SUT and ALICE will be signed in Thailand later this year.
SUT has a key role in transforming Thailand into a technology-wise country and educating young people towards a science-oriented career.
“We are trying to step more into the science oriented professions and become a more technology-wise country. That’s why we choose to get involved in the project of the Inner Tracking System upgrade which comprises knowledge from many different fields, i.e., electrical engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, software development and of course physics”. SUT members are currently working on the ITS upgrade plan, a project in which Chinorat is involved along with his PhD student Ruchipas Bavontaweepanya and Navadecho Chankhunthot (a CERN summer student).
In the long run, Chinorat thinks that Thailand needs to develop new facilities for doing research in science and technology. The experiences gained and lessons learnt from joining the ALICE Collaboration are invaluable and give us a solid ground to develop further and become a leader in the region.