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Visit by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to Tokyo Tech

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May 18, 2015

On April 21, Tokyo Tech was honored to receive a visit by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, accompanied by a delegation of top officials representing PTT Public Co., Ltd (PTT). Her Royal Highness, who avidly follows science and technology education and research, had previously visited Tokyo Tech in 2006.

Since concluding a university-wide cooperation agreement with Chulalongkorn University in 1985, Tokyo Tech has engaged in education and research collaborations with many universities in Thailand. In 2002, the Tokyo Tech Thailand Office was established outside Bangkok to support these collaborations. At the request of the Thailand National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Tokyo Tech joined NSTDA and several Thai universities in establishing a joint international graduate program, the Thailand Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (TAIST)outer, in 2007. Tokyo Tech has developed a friendly relationship with the Kingdom of Thailand through such ventures.

Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn and President Mishima
Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn and President Mishima

This recent visit to Tokyo Tech was proposed by Her Royal Highness for the purpose of learning more about the cutting-edge research underway at Tokyo Tech's Environmental Energy Innovation (EEI) Building and Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI)outer. After President Yoshinao Mishima and his vice presidents welcomed Her Royal Highness and her delegation to the campus Her Royal Highness greeted with a wide smile an assembly of Tokyo Tech students from Thailand who were waving miniature Thai national flags and purple flags featuring the symbol of HRH Princess Sirindhorn.

Welcome by Thai students

Welcome by Thai students

Her Royal Highness and eight members of her delegation, including the Royal Thai Ambassador to Japan, H.E. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Dr. Sumet Tantivejkul, Dr. Piyasvasti Amranand, and Tokyo Tech alumnus and PTT CEO Dr. Pailin Chuchottaworn, then met with President Mishima and a group of eight administrators and professors from Tokyo Tech. Her Royal Highness smiled warmly in response to President Mishima's celebratory remarks regarding Her Royal Highness's 60th birthday, an event widely celebrated in the Thai culture.

After the meeting, Her Royal Highness and her guests joined the other members of the delegation in a nearby lecture hall and were greeted by Vice President Isao Satoh and Vice President Tetsuya Mizumoto. The latter provided an overview of Tokyo Tech and described the education reform, including internationalization activities under the Top Global Project. In the Q&A session following the presentation, Her Royal Highness and her delegation sought additional details about the education reform, Tokyo Tech's international student enrollment, and educational collaborations involving TAIST.

Meeting with President Mishima
Meeting with President Mishima

Leaving the presentation venue, Her Royal Highness graciously paused to greet and interact briefly with 67 members of the Tokyo Tech Thai Students' Association. The students presented Her Royal Highness with gifts and were permitted the opportunity for a group photograph.

HRH Princess Sirindhorn and her delegation then moved to the EEI Building. Professor Manabu Ihara, formerly of the Department of Chemistry and currently affiliated with the Department of Chemical Engineering, described the special features of the building's solar cell system and its advanced alternative energy technologies. Her Royal Highness and PTT delegation members expressed particular interest in the Institute's smart power grid, referred to as "Ene-Swallow," among other topics. After his talk, Professor Ihara led Her Royal Highness and a few delegation members to the roof of the EEI Building to display the energy facilities, including the fuel cell power generation system with waste-heat utilization.

With Vice President Mizumoto

With Vice President Mizumoto

With Professor Ihara at EEI

With Professor Ihara at EEI

ELSI Director Hirose explains an experiment

ELSI Director Hirose explains an experiment

The royal delegation then visited ELSI, a cutting-edge research institute launched in 2012 under the Japanese government's World Premier International Research Center Initiative. Professor Kei Hirose, Director of ELSI, welcomed HRH Princess Sirindhorn and provided an overview of the institute, its international and Japanese researchers, and its interdisciplinary research on the origins of Earth and Life.

To illustrate how ELSI researchers are attempting to reproduce the high-temperature, high-pressure environment at the Earth's core, Professor Hirose invited Her Royal Highness to participate in an experiment in which high pressure is applied to room-temperature water to produce ice. Her Royal Highness obliged, and the experiment was projected onto a screen for her delegation to observe. In the Q&A session that followed, Professor and Principal Investigator John Hernlund of ELSI joined Professor Hirose in responding to Her Royal Highness and her delegation's questions about the origin of life, the formation process in the birth of planets and the possibility of life outside the solar system.

Her Royal Highness's deep and abiding interest in science and technology was evident in her assiduous note-taking during the discussions, in the detailed questions asked of the Tokyo Tech presenters, and in the numerous photos Her Royal Highness took during the three and a half hour campus visit.

The Tokyo Tech community was honored to welcome Her Royal Highness and her delegation to the campus and to share some of the exciting education and research activities that reflect "Tokyo Tech Quality."

Her Royal Highness with Thai Students' Association
Her Royal Highness with Thai Students' Association

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