Rationale

 

        Astronomy has a long tradition of inspiring generations of students to take up science and technology studies. The fundamental questions of the Universe that are posed by astronomy encourage students to develop an inquisitive mindset and wide-ranging problem solving skills, combined with training in presentation, investigation, numeracy, analysis and computation. Following their studies many astronomy students then go on to apply these high level skills to other areas of the wider knowledge-based economy. This is particularly true of radio astronomy, where technological developments in radio interferometry were applied to solve the problems of wireless communication between computers, ultimately resulting in WiFi.

 

 

 

        This potential for radio astronomy as a development vehicle for the wider economy has long been recognised. Europe has put in place the African-European Radio Astronomy Platform (AERAP) which is aimed at overseas aid development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many of the UK team of this proposal are involved in Royal Society and Newton Fund ODA radio astronomy projects in Africa, where development is a key strand of the international Square Kilometer Array facility. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has developed a decadal strategic plan entitled “Astronomy for Development”. This focuses on three areas to use astronomy in stimulating education and development: (i) universities and research; (ii) children and schools; and (iii) public outreach. Within South East Asia the IAU Regional Office for Astronomy Development is based in NARIT.

 

 

        Thailand also recognises the strong potential for development that is afforded by astronomy in general and radio astronomy in particular. Under a mega project known as “Radio Astronomy Network and Geodesy for Development (RANGD)”, over the next 5 years Thailand will build the 40m Thai National Radio Telescope and 13m VGOS Telescope, and integrate these facilities into regional and global VLBI networks. This school is focused on human capital development in radio astronomy, with the central aims of addressing the challenges involved in building Thailand’s first radio observatory, as well as attract the young generations to studying basics science and technology.

 

        We specifically target university level education, broadening and extending the scope and depth of existing educational infrastructure to encourage Thai students to develop necessary skills in radio astronomy and undertake further postgraduate study. We will harness the rich skill base of the UK radio astronomy community to run this summer school in radio astronomy for 3rd year Thai undergraduate students to teach them high-level skills in astrophysics, radio astronomy and computational techniques. This will also be a good opportunity to develop the links between Thailand and the UK for coming exchanges of academic, technical and research students.