Engineer, educator, enthusiast
When Natha Kuptasthien, 45, was the department head of Industrial Engineering at the Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi (RMUTT), Thailand, the faculty faced a problem that few engineering textbooks discuss: how to teach the subject. Students were bored. Classrooms were echo chambers. Her colleagues were losing hope.
Professor Natha, an engineer through and through, made it her mission to solve the problem. In 2012, she was introduced to the CDIO framework, which empowers educators and their students to conceive, design, implement and operate real-world solutions. She quickly grasped: education has to go beyond teaching and lecturing.
Like a hearty salad, quality education is a combination of many more ingredients – all different, all fresh. Professor Natha learnt to design curricula with multi-disciplinary activities, turned classrooms into workshops for a hands-on culture, prioritised her colleagues’ professional development and reflected on her methods through self-assessments. She shared her findings with RMUTT, which began using the CDIO approach in 2014.
The impact is gradual but great. RMUTT lecturers and professors have found a new sense of purpose – they constantly come up with experiential activities to excite students. And they receive support from a global community – CDIO puts the university on the framework’s world map. Most heartening of all? Students take charge of the classroom today. Kanyanat Maengtap, 21, an undergraduate in Textile Engineering, showcased her solutions to classmates through engaging presentations. She and her team also had free rein to teach a three-hour lesson on quality management.
Professor Natha believes that change is a series of small steps. “Don’t jump, don’t run,” she says. “Just keep walking, so you won’t get tired.” As an enthusiast in the CDIO framework, she will further expand its use in RMUTT. Professor Natha doesn’t just walk the talk. She enjoys every moment of it too.
Participant from the Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi, Bangkok, Thailand, in: Programme in the Conceive-Design- Implement-Operate Framework by Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Foundation International
Text by Wong Shu Yun.
*More of such stories can be found in Temasek Foundation International's 10th anniversary commemorative book 'Leading Journeys: Inspirations for Asia and Beyond".