Case Studies

Witsawapat Engineering Camp, The Rural Development Volunteer Engineering Program

The Faculty of Engineering at Chulalongkorn University, comprising 12 departments including Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering, Survey Engineering, and Water Resources Engineering, serves as a crucial academic incubator for nurturing irrigation and water management expertise. Expert faculty members impart this knowledge to students for real-world application in addressing water management challenges in remote communities.

This knowledge transfer takes place through the ‘Witsawapat Engineering Camp’, a volunteer rural development engineering program. The primary objective is to foster leadership in students by emphasizing their social and environmental responsibilities. It addresses the water scarcity and agricultural challenges the residents of Chetawan Village, Santa Sub-district, Na Noi District, Nan Province face.

The village, with 264 households and a population of 1,067, relies predominantly on highland agriculture, mainly corn farming to feed animals, with minimal water usage. However, their low-priced main crop results in low incomes, negatively affecting the quality of life. Therefore, specialized knowledge in irrigation and water systems is required, transforming the area into a living lab for students over seven generations of the camp, involving up to 1,000 students.

Initiated in 2018, the camp conducts surveys and implements water resource development projects with communities and organizations. This collaboration has created water resources and systems, including the Huai Nam Phia weir in 2019, providing water coverage for approximately 200 rai. In 2021, the Ta Nam weir and distribution system was established for consumption, and in 2022, the Huai Tang Ho weir generated water for an expanded 200 rai area, ensuring year-round usage for 43 households.

Community members can now cultivate high-value fruit trees and vegetables, resulting in annual household savings of 35,813 baht per rai. These efforts have significantly improved the quality of life, fostering trust and confidence.

In 2023, in addition to solar-powered pumping systems and a check dam, the community allocated land for the establishment of the ‘Dintania Pracha Ruam Jai’ center by Chulalongkorn University. This center serves as a hub for knowledge exchange with communities and visitors, and a model for sharing water resource strategies with other drought-prone highland areas.

The Rakkaew Foundation awarded the first prize “2023 Rakkaew Foundation National Exposition: University Sustainability Showcase” and 100,000 baht support for this project to further develop and guarantee the success of students in implementing sustainable initiatives that address real community needs by applying classroom knowledge and creativity to develop solutions with positive economic, social, and environmental impacts aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.


Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University