Department of Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University is the first computer school in Thailand. The origin came from the Computer Science Unit of Graduate School which was the computer services unit inside Chulalongkorn University, and also educating computer science in the level of certificate and master degree. Later, the Computer Science Unit was transformed into the Department of Computer Engineering.
Computer Science Unit (1969 – 1975)
Foundation and Objectives
In 1969, Professor Tab Neelaniti, Ph.D., then Dean of Graduate School, proposed the project of founding Computer Science Unit in the Graduate School which had many objectives and missions as concluded below.
- Training lecturers and the university’s officer in computer application, improving instruction and research performance.
- Creating application with Time sharing that can help other universities for using Chulalongkorn University’s (mainframe) computers ,linking their terminal via phone line or microwave system, rather than self-installation. As a result, Time sharing application could cut down cost.
- Creating system development project that used Thai language to communicate with computer using teletype.
- Design and implementing General Database.
- Participating in Thai language design on IBM’s Golf ball electric typewriter.
- Creating Roman Thai Characters that help American soldiers on pronouncing names of road, Tambon, Amphur and province on any maps or labels.
- Teaching computer in some faculties, both Bachelor degree and Graduate study.
- Helping on research in national defence and instructing computer to military.
- Exchanging on academic affairs, both computer theory and practice, among some universities, government sector and private sector.
- Training computer for general society.
Prof. Tab Neelaniti, Ph.D.
Dean of Graduate School
Initial operation and Pioneers
Computer Science Unit of Graduate School started on 1 March, 1969, using the 2nd floor of Electrical Engineering building, Faculty of Engineering as the office. There were 10 – 15 pioneers of this unit such as
- Professor Ittipol Padungchevit, Ph.D.
- Lecturer (Later, Associate Professor) Somchai Tayanyong
- Lecturer Rajit Wattanasin
- Lecturer Pakorn Adulbhan
- Lecturer Chaiveth Nudprayoon, M.D.
Computer Science Unit also had several foreign instructors which were special instructors, foreign affairs advisers, education advisers, and research advisers (Around 7 – 8 people).
By the way, the unit had the great collaboration with Fulbright Thailand who usually sent expert professor for seminar or academic conference conducting by the unit. Moreover, Military Research and Development Center who brought and installed IBM 1800 in Chulalongkorn University also sent foreign experts to teach students during the first run. In addition, we received help from System Development Computer Co. Ltd. to create Time Sharing system and Thai language project.
The Unit’s Computers
Computer Science Unit used 2 systems of computer.
- IBM 1800I was the computer installed by Military Research and Development Center for sharing with Chulalongkorn University. It had 32 K word (16 KB) memory, 2 x 2 MB magnetic disk, and Golf ball teletype’s console. Besides, IBM 1800I had 1,200 LPM (Line Per Minute) printer, 600 CPM (Card Per Minute) card reader and 200 CPM card punch.
- IBM 1620II, given by IBM (Thailand) Co. Ltd. for education purpose, had 20 K memory, 6 Shrinko machines, 600 LPM printer, 600 CPM card reader and 200 CPM card punch.
Besides, as Computer Science Unit had to use some peripheral devices, so Chulalongkorn University rented them from IBM (Thailand) Co. Ltd. However, some part of those devices received from Control Data Co. Ltd.
Computer Science Unit taught some computer courses for bachelor students in various faculties, including Engineering and Science. Not only that, the unit opened the program of Computer Science Certificate (Approved by the Office of The Civil Service Commission, OCSC) since 1969. This program was recognized and graduated by many people.
Afterward, due to Computer Science unit was subsidiary of Graduate School, the unit opened Master of Science, M.Sc. (Computer Science) program in 1971. This program was available for bachelor degree-holders in almost every branches. By the way, Computer Science Unit also considered to help other universities for computer education.
Computer Donation from the Japanese Government
NEAC 2200 model 200
Computer Science Unit’s operation was relentlessly onward. Then, Chulalongkorn University asked Professor Boonchana Auttakorn, the university’s council member and the Minister of Commerce at that time, to request support from the Japanese Government. Hence, the Japanese Government ordered Nippon Electronics Company to become the supporter by donating the medium-sized computer NEAC 2200/200 to Chulalongkorn University. Later, NEAC 2200/200 was installed in 1971, and the opening ceremony was taken place with Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn, then prime minister, as the ceremony’s president.
NEAC 2200/200 had 32 K memory, 1200 CPM card reader, 200 CPM card punch and 600 LPM printer. It also had 4 magnetic disk units with 20 Kbps speed. Incidentally, the important person who helped this donation to be completed was Dr.Kenji Kobayashi, the President of NEC Company, so Chulalongkorn University requested the first class of Order of the Crown of Thailand to Dr.Kenji as appreciation.
Neelaniti Building, the Computer Science Unit
and the Department of Computer Engineering
Office (1972 – 1997)
Office Building Construction
Because the Government increasingly perceived computer science significance, the official approved 4 million Baht budget in purpose of constructing the Computer Science Unit’s new office. The new office, located near the students’ dormitory, was beginning on 1971. During the progress, the official gave more 4 million Baht budget. After the construction finished in 1972, this building was named Neelaniti Building and used as the office of Computer Science Unit and the Department of Computer Engineering until 1997. Nowadays, the current office of the department is on 17th – 20th floor, Engineering 4 Building (Charoenvidsavakham), Faculty of Engineering. Besides, Neelaniti Building is now Chamchuri 8 Building which is the Chamchuri Art Gallery of Chulalongkorn University.
By the way, in 1971, the Computer Science Center project was shown on the universities’ development plan. This center would provide academic and research services for Bachelor degree students in every faculty of Chulalongkorn University and other universities. However, the remained Computer Science Unit of Graduate School would responsible for Master degree education in Computer Science.
Department of Computer Engineering (1975 – Present)
Prof. Ittipol Padungchevit, Ph.D.
Computer Science Unit Leader
(Since 2 March, 1969)
Around September 1972, Professor Ittipol Padungchevit, Ph.D., the Computer Science Unit leader literally requested for establishing the Computer Science Unit as the new independent department. Thus, Professor Aroon Sorathesn, Ph.D., then Chulalongkorn University President brought this request to the conference of academic committee and university’s development committee. Accordingly, both committees agreed to forward the request to dean committee. As a result, dean committee considered to reorganize Computer Science Unit as below.
- Opening a Bachelor degree program of Computer Science in the Faculty of Engineering. The operation will be done by Department of Computer Science which was accepted by the Faculty of Engineering.
- Finding a new computer to substitute Japan’s NEAC 2200/200 due to the leased contract would be expired in 1974. Chulalongkorn University would supported some budget for this operation.
However, the dean committee changed previous resolution as follow.
- Abolishing the Computer Science Unit.
- Founding Department of Computer Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering for educating computer science. Thus, making the department the first Computer Engineering department in Thailand. and the ninth department of the faculty.
- Founding a computer service center, later named Computer Services Institute, directly worked to the President. This center would provide computer services to support executive and education works. So that, a royal decree was enacted to approve both new agencies on 12 December, 1978
Finally, Department of Computer Engineering was founded on 9 June, 1975 which is regarded as the founding day. By the way, Department of Computer Engineering and Computer Services Institute had their office on Neelaniti Building which was the office of defunct Computer Science Unit.
Although, as a result of change, There was inquiry to every members in Computer Science Unit in order to move them to recently founded Department of Computer Engineering. Hence, all lecturers and supporting staffs decided to change the agency. After that, Department of Computer Engineering had Associate Professor Sawas Sangbangpla, Ph.D. as the first head of department. Associate Professor Sawas also became the Assistant Dean (Faculty of Engineering), taking care of computer tasks of the faculty.
After founding the department, the Bachelor degree program in Computer Engineering was begun in 1975 academic year, selecting the first to second year students to study for 3 more years. During the first run, the department could receive 20 students, but later 40 students in 1981 (CP’8 class), and a hundred students in 1995 (CP’22 class) until now. This program focus on 40% of hardware courses and 60% of software courses. Although, as a lot of students’ demand exceeded the limit, students who want to study in computer engineering must have high GPA as top-class of the faculty.
In 1992 academic year, Department of Computer Engineering has opened Master of Engineering program in Computer Engineering, admitting Bachelor degree-holder in Engineering (every branches), and emphasized on thesis making. Furthermore, in 1998 academic year, the department also has started Doctor of Philosphy program in Computer Engineering.
By the way, Master of Science program in Computer Science, which had been managed by Computer Science Unit, have been continued and operated by the department. Later, the department also opened this program in weekend session. In addition, in 2002 academic year, the department created Master of Science program in Software Engineering in order to support attention and expansion in software engineering. Nevertheless, Computer Science Unit’s Computer Science Certificate program was closed in the same time with the department’s foundation in 1975, but the program was still active to already registered students until everyone had finished the program.