It has now been two years since the ICE-Matter consortium was established with the support of academic partners in Japan, Laos, and Myanmar, as well as an industrial partner in Thailand.

On Nov 17, 2020, Kasetsart University (KU), as the main facilitator, conducted its third periodic meeting through an online platform to report on the achievements of the consortium over the past six months, and the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, including its future strategic plan.

The meeting resulted in several fruitful discussions. Details of the progress made on the scholarship program, collaborative research, mobility activities, double degree program, and financial management were shared with representatives from the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), National University of Laos (NUOL), University of Yangon (UY), and the JICA project for AUN/SEED-Net.

The second batch students from University of Yangon (UY)

In terms of student management, the ICE-Matter committee shared the various challenges experienced with the enrollment of the second batch of students during the novel coronavirus situation. Firm coordination among students, the ICE-Matter committee, AUN/SEED-Net, and the Thai embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, helped to ensure that the students could enter Thailand to start their Master’s program in Bangkok. Essential information regarding academic preparation, accommodation, and traveling protocol were shared with all parties concerned. Finally, with the full support of the ICE-Matter committee, the post-Covid-19 immigration processes were successfully completed and three students from the University of Yangon (UY) arrived in Bangkok safe and sound in September 2020.

Regarding research collaboration, a project entitled “Potential Utilization of Bio-Waste and Industrial Waste for Fabrication of Eco-Friendly Lightweight Concrete Blocks” conducted by Ms. Khotamy Saphongxay, a first batch Master’s student from the National University of Laos (NUOL), won the Silver Medal Innovation Award from the National Research Council of Thailand.

Silver Medal Innovation Award from the National Research Council of Thailand

In another research collaboration and networking accomplishment, the ICE-Matter consortium has recently received an award from the AUN/SEED-Net Special Program for Research Against Covid-19 or SPRAC. The SPRAC is a new research funding opportunity for rapid research collaboration in response to the current COVID-19 outbreak for Member Institutions, Japanese Supporting Universities, industry, and external partners among the ASEAN, Japan, South Asia, and Africa. It is considered as the first step to expanding the consortium to provide external linkage beyond the ASEAN.

Special Program for Research Against Covid-19 (SPRAC) team member

In response to the current pandemic, upcoming academic mobility activities have been postponed to the next fiscal year while others are being shifted to an online platform. For example, block lectures at KU by NAIST professors will be conducted online from Dec 7 to Dec 21, 2020. Moreover, the ICE-Matter consortium also proposes that alternative activities replace those that have been canceled due to the pandemic to ensure the effectiveness of consortium outcomes.

The JICA project for AUN/SEED-Net would like to thank all partners for their considerable efforts in producing continuous outputs for ICE-Matter. The consortium is committed to producing constructive results and supporting the implementation of further AUN/SEED-Net projects.

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