Center for Professional Development

Stanford initiative facilitates research in Thailand

| VPTL News
By BETH CURRAN.

Stanford Thailand Research Consortium

September marked the one-year anniversary of the Stanford Thailand Research Consortium, a collaboration between Stanford and Thai industry. Four companies have signed on to date as members of the consortium: AIS, AP Thailand, KBank, and Thai Union. Each company has pledged $5 million over five years for a projected total of $20 million in gift funding to Stanford.

The member companies hope this research consortium will help Thailand prepare, adapt and prosper as it transforms from an agricultural economy to a digital, intelligence-driven and service-oriented economy.

Administratively housed in the office of the Dean of Research and supported by the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD), the Stanford initiative paves the way for faculty across schools and disciplines to engage in research that has real world applications, including those that contribute to Thai society and/or stimulate regional economic growth and learning.

The initiative developed as a result of relationships cultivated between SCPD and South East Asia Center (SEAC) in Thailand to deliver various executive education programs to a Thai audience. Thai executives were inspired by the learning and engagement with Stanford and sought additional ways to bring Stanford’s expertise to their country. SEAC’s local network and expertise enabled those connections which ultimately led to the formation of the consortium.

Research projects and faculty grants

15 projects are currently in progress through the initiative. Additional faculty grants will be available in the next funding cycle.

One current project called AI for Elderly Care uses human-centered design and AI-based technologies to improve caregiving of the elderly, a growing population in Thailand. An example of using AI to support elder care is a computer vision system that can detect mobility in elders who may be at home alone while their caregivers are at work. The project, led by the Clinical Excellence Research Center’s Professor Arnold Milstein (medicine) and Professor Amit Kaushal (bioengineering), is a collaboration between Stanford Medicine, Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and the d.school.

Another project led by Professors Michael Lepech (civil and environmental engineering) and Martin Fischer (civil and environmental engineering) and their PhD students Jie Wu and Weixuan Gao aims to develop a new method to identify, understand, and assess potentially disruptive innovations in the built environment worldwide quickly and accurately. The platform will structure, analyze, and visualize the vast amounts of information continuously created around us, making it easier to connect the built environment we live in with a digital representation of the world we know.  

Another research project underway led by Professor Pamela Hinds (management science and engineering) is exploring complex teams and how they coordinate their work.  PhD student Heather Altman spent three months in Thailand observing teams at work to understand some of the challenges they face in working in a complex team environment. Part of her goal is to understand what practices contribute to more effective complex, cross-boundary teams. 

A collaboration between Professor John Mitchell (computer science) and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has resulted in the development of modular tools to train teachers and teach students computer science concepts. An attempt is underway to adapt some of these tools and principles used to train SFUSD teachers and deploy them in Thailand.

Stanford faculty who are interested in learning more can contact Matt Harvey, Managing Director of International Initiatives and Strategy, SCPD. The next call for faculty research proposals will be posted on the Dean of Research site.