A smart campus enables smarter education. Here’s how.

By Huawei

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce used the much-needed upgrade of its legacy network infrastructure as an opportunity to incorporate Wi-Fi 7 and realises its ambition of becoming an AI-integrated institution.

Porames Songsaengterm, Vice President of Information Technology, University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, presented at the Huawei Digital and Intelligent APAC Congress 2024 in Bangkok on 29 April 2024. Image: Huawei.

At the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, also known as UTCC, students don’t go to class to learn about the facts or theories of their courses for the most part.

According to Porames Songsaengterm, Vice President of Information Technology, UTCC, the private university places a greater emphasis on teaching learners how to apply their knowledge.

“We have been doing this kind of ‘hybrid’ learning for some time,” he told GovInsider during the Huawei Digital and Intelligent APAC Congress 2024 in Bangkok on 29 April.

“When students come to class, we don’t lecture or teach them the theory or the facts that they can gather by themselves, maybe with the help of artificial intelligence,” he said. “We teach them what to do on the application side of things.”

Songsaengterm added that UTCC was working with Huawei to integrate AI technologies at the university, as it has recently upgraded its network infrastructure to provide a “smart campus” experience for students, educators, and staff.

Using AI as a research, productivity tool

Songsaengterm emphasised that UTCC was not simply an “AI university”, or one that is only conducting research or teaching courses on AI.

“We are not just doing that. For the past three years, we have wanted to integrate AI, including generative AI, into our students’ lifestyles as well, and also in our university’s day-to-day operations,” he said, highlighting UTCC’s ambition to be known as an “AI-integrated university”.

At UTCC, AI is seen as a powerful efficiency tool that is already being applied in various industries, and education should not be an exception. All students are expected to develop skills in thinking about and solving problems with AI, and to use AI in their work.

“Of course, there are pros and cons when it comes to using AI in education. It can be easy for some students to simply generate content to submit as their own work – this can be seen as ‘cheating’.

“But we teach students to use prompts correctly, to research their answers, to analyse and re-generate answers, before making it your own unique work [to submit]. We can then grade these students who have used AI correctly and ethically,” he said.

The right time for an upgrade

Even before embracing the possibilities of AI, UTCC needed a network infrastructure upgrade, as its legacy infrastructure had been in place for more than a decade.

Students were struggling to access online learning resources, interactive learning applications, and the university’s learning management system. The deployment of multiple, diverse networks, including wired, wireless and wide area networks, made it difficult to manage.

“We knew we wanted to incorporate AI tools in our students’ everyday lives, and we also wanted to do so for our university’s daily operations and maintenance. We knew we would need a strong foundation, so it was the perfect timing for us,” said Songsaengterm.

UTCC has since implemented Huawei’s solutions for education, the first in the Asia-Pacific region to incorporate Wi-Fi 7 capabilities. They include the Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 7 and Huawei iMaster NCE-Campus solutions and tools.

“We needed faster network speeds, with low latency that is very important to us. Everything had to be fast and secure,” he said. “We are also using AI as a back-office tool for intelligent operations management.”

AI in action

What does the new and improved network infrastructure mean for learning? Educators at UTCC can now create dynamic, personalised lessons and use collaboration platforms to work with students.

AI assistants can analyse students’ strengths and weaknesses and adapt teaching to various learning styles. On the other hand, administrators armed with AI-powered real-time insights can now make data-driven decisions to allocate resources on demand.

By optimising bandwidth allocation and prioritising critical applications, the new infrastructure ensures that students, educators, and staff all have a seamless user experience, even during periods of high traffic.

Songsaengterm said that UTCC is already using sensors and IoT across the campus. Coupled with AI solutions that provide live monitoring and insights, this could lead to enhanced safety and energy savings on campus.

In time, these systems could even be predictive and autonomous.

Bridging the digital divide

Amidst the university’s ambitious plans to leverage AI to fulfil its ultimate mission, to enhance its graduates’ knowledge and skills for Industry 4.0, digital inclusion is still very much a priority.

Noting that UTCC’s current enrolment of about 17,000 includes international students from across Southeast Asia, Songsaengterm said the university offers each student the chance to learn even if they cannot afford a personal computing device.

“Unfortunately, we still have a digital divide within our society. That’s what [UTCC has a] one-to-one policy to provide a free technology device to each student. AI goes hand in hand with the technologies that we have in our classrooms.”

While AI is not expected to fully replace human workers in the workforce – in the foreseeable future – it’s become widely accepted that everyone needs some AI skills to perform their evolving job functions.

By partnering with technology companies such as Huawei, UTCC is enabling students, both IT-savvy or non-IT-savvy students to become “technology-wise” and have a bright career for years to come, said Songsaengterm.