Thai Oil Public Co., Ltd.
Thai Oil Plc. (ThaiOil) is the leading independent petroleum refiner and supplier of refined petroleum products in Thailand. The company currently owns and operates the largest single-site refinery in Thailand and one of the most complex refineries in the Asia-Pacific region, with a refining capacity of approximately 220,000 barrels per day of crude oil and other feedstocks, representing approximately 21% of the total refining capacity in Thailand. ThaiOil has been ChEPS's sponsor since the program's inception, and has provided its refinery plant as the practice site every year.
In addition to being a practice site for ChEPS, ThaiOil now provides industrial scholarships to qualified ChEPS students.
It has been 19 years since ChEPS was first initiated at KMUTT. All four stakeholders of the program have benefited directly from its success. As one of earliest the industrial sponsors of ChEPS, ThaiOil has made immeasurable contributions, both financially and in-kind, to the program. This win-win partnership has resulted in many levels of collaborations between ChEPS and ThaiOil. For example, ThaiOil has served as ChEPS’ practice station (for interned students) since its inception in 1998. This collaboration alone has produced over 100 site projects aimed at solving the company’s technical problems, resulting in tremendous cost savings and additional profits. In addition, each year ChEPS provides ThaiOil and its subsidiaries with some of the best graduating chemical engineers in Thailand who become the company’s employees.
The following summarizes in detail the extent of the collaboration between ThaiOil and ChEPS.
COLLABORATIONS WITH THAIOIL
There have been many levels of collaboration between ChEPS and ThaiOil since 1998. These collaborations include:
Serving as a practice station for second-year ChEPS interned students
Providing PBL projects for first-year ChEPS students
Employment recruitment of graduating ChEPS students
Full scholarships for qualified ChEPS students in exchange for
contract-bound employment upon graduation
Each level of collaboration is further elaborated below.
Practical training is compulsory during the second year when students are enrolled in ChEPS. ThaiOil has served as a practice station for ChEPS since 1998 and sponsored nearly 200 site projects when interned students received practical training at its refinery facilities and affiliates in Sri-racha. ThaiOil allows ChEPS faculty and students to access their production facilities, which play a pivotal role in providing practical training for students in the second year of their study. At the same time, ThaiOil has gained valuable human resources who can work on longer-term projects, thus freeing up company engineers to focus on more urgent needs.
The duration of the practice phase is five months. Students work in teams of two or three on two projects in series, and take turns being the project leader. So each project is 10 weeks long, during which there is a proposal presentation, a progress presentation, and a final presentation. ChEPS faculty on campus also travels to the site and attend these presentations to provide further input. Due to time constraints, most site projects tend to be simulation-oriented, which seek to debottleneck, troubleshoot, and optimize (e.g. minimizing energy consumption) existing plants. A few projects also involve feasibility studies and design of new processes.
Projects for Problem-Based Learning (PBL)
An important aspect of the ChEPS curriculum which helps students prepare for their subsequent internships is the incorporation of problem-based learning (PBL) into some core courses during the first year. PBL is vital in helping students hone their problem-solving and presentation skills. In most cases, these case studies, which tend to be too narrow in scope to be site projects, are solicited from sponsoring companies. The PBL projects introduced into the classroom mimics certain aspects of the site projects.
Individual Thesis Projects
The ChEPS curriculum requires that all students undertake a short research thesis (6 credit hours as opposed to the regular 12 credit hours) for six months in the second year. This component is missing in the MIT’s practice school. ChEPS feels that the inclusion of a thesis in its curriculum adds another dimension towards improving students’ critical and analytical thinking. This training is particularly vital to any ChEPS students who wish to pursue doctorate degrees. Research topics in ChEPS span just about any field in chemical engineering, such as process simulation and optimization, fuel cells, catalysis, environmental engineering and clean technology, biomolecular engineering, biotechnology, waste engineering, energy, polymers, and membranes. These thesis projects are mainly supervised by faculty within the chemical engineering department, although a few are collaborated or supervised by people outside the department or outside the university.
A few ChEPS thesis projects are also sponsored by the industry. Research that requires longer timeframes and in-depth analyses is better tackled as individual thesis projects rather than site projects. In the past, ThaiOil has sponsored a number of such thesis projects.
Teaching for ChEPS
To expose students to a variety of instructors, ChEPS also invites special lecturers from overseas institutions as well as engineers and managers from the industry to help teach some of the courses in ChEPS. Since 1997, a number of ThaiOil technologists, engineers, and managers have helped to teach CHE670: Business Management for Chemical Industry, a course taught exclusively by ChEPS’ industrial sponsors.