New dual degree targets growing job opportunities in medical technology field

Monday, 15 July 2019

Professor Dr Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol of Thailand, and eight delegates, visited the University of Newcastle today to signify a commitment to develop a new dual degree program between the University and Chulabhorn Royal Academy in Thailand.

Professor Billie Bonevski presenting flowers to Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn
Professor Billie Bonevski presenting flowers to Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn

The four-year undergraduate Medical Innovation – Engineering (MIE) program will combine the Bachelor of Science (Medical Innovation) degree from Chulabhorn Royal Academy and Bachelor of Medical Engineering (Honours) from the University of Newcastle.

The Chulabhorn Royal Academy was set up in 2016 to help improve the health outcomes of Thai people under the guidance of Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn, who has a doctorate in science and is a strong supporter of medical research. It has already become one of the leading learning and research centers in the fields of medicine, science, public health and environment management.

Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn said she founded Chulabhorn Royal Academy to carry on the dedicated work of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej to improve the well-being of the people of Thailand.

“The graduates and the trained personnel from this non-profit institute will be equipped not only with knowledge, but also a code of ethics. With the aim of providing quality medical services to the society, their selfless devotion will be widely recognised,” Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn said.

“If we can create medical technologies ourselves cost-effectively, we can more widely address the medical problems and make it accessible to all Thai citizens.”

University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, said the announcement reflected a strong partnership.

“The University of Newcastle is a truly global institution and we’re thrilled to be partnering with the Chulabhorn Royal Academy to offer this new opportunity to our students in Thailand.”

Head of the School of Electrical and Computing Engineering at the University of Newcastle, Professor Rick Middleton, said the medical technology field is growing rapidly, and the new dual degree will equip students with a unique combination of skills.

“Many countries around the world are prioritising research and innovation in medical technologies,” Professor Middleton said.

“The degree will blend medical science and innovation, engineering, and entrepreneurships so that graduates can work for medical technology companies, or create their own start-ups,” Professor Middleton said.

Students will begin the program at Chulabhorn Royal Academy, undertaking an 18-month Medical Science and Innovation course together with early courses in Medical Engineering, followed by a two-year Engineering and Project Implementation course at the University of Newcastle Callaghan campus, before finishing their studies with a six-month Business and Entrepreneurship course at Chulabhorn Royal Academy.

Secretary General of Chulabhorn Royal Academy, Professor Nithi Mahanonda, said the Academy has general and specialised cancer hospitals operating on campus.

“We can support students to expose themselves to healthcare-related innovative questions through hospital-based learning environments,” Professor Mahanonda said.

The dual program strengthens the existing relationship between the University and Chulabhorn Royal Academy, which originated from a Memorandum of Understanding for medical physics research whereby postgraduate students from Thailand now have the opportunity to be trained in Newcastle.

A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed today by University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, and Her Royal Highness, and witnessed by Secretary General, Professor Nithi Mahanonda, and Vice Principal (Research and International Relations), Professor Chirayu Auewarakul, from Chulabhorn Royal Academy.

The MIE program is expected to begin in Thailand in 2021, with applications opening in December 2020.

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