FROM DRAWING up the roughest of plans to delivering final condominium units to customers, three Thai civil engineering students got to learn the whole real-estate industry procedure at the heart of the utmost of tech-savvy countries - in the Japanese capi
The two men and one young woman represented 24 fellow civil engineering students back home.
All 27 had been groomed during “AP Open House 2016”, an intensive internship programme run by the AP Academy, Thailand’s first institution for comprehensive real-estate learning, established by the powerhouse property developer, AP (Thailand) Plc.
The two-month internship extracted the essence of the learning process of real-estate business, together with training sessions and on-site works supervised by experienced engineer mentors, for 27 undergraduates who were selected from over 600 applicants across the country.
Three students eventually made the final list from the Open House attendees to make a field study trip to Tokyo with AP (Thailand)’s business partner, Mitsubishi Estate Group (MEC), which spent three full days elaborating on matters from how its automatic kitchen waste-disposal units work at a condominium in Chiba Prefecture to the group’s collaboration with the Japanese government in developing Marunouchi, the commercial heart of Tokyo.
Thanakarn “Benz” Likhitparinya, a third-year civil engineering student from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thon Buri, was particularly interested in MEC’s earthquake-resistance mechanisms equipped in the group’s buildings.
“Japan is known for its frequency of earthquakes,” he said. “Thailand’s [frequency and power] might not be on a par, but there were recent reports [of quakes] in the northern part of the country, so I think we should start to do something about it.”
Thanakarn learnt that 2-tonne rubber dampers can be used to absorb agitation in buildings, while silicone-infused metallic poles fitted in all floors can also create a building’s resilience against an earthquake.
“The poling equipment is cheaper than the dampers, but it could also be less efficient,” he said.
Apart from technical learning, he was also impressed by MEC’s selling methods.
“In Thailand, salespersons usually provide potential customers merely with leaflets and take them to sampling rooms. But MEC touches buyers through hi-tech presentations, and lighting effects are used to visualise things. Their sampling rooms are also to actual scale, with full-size equipment.
“I don’t understand Japanese, but they managed to create an impression on me,” he added.
Apiwich “Fai” Vongsavan, a third-year civil engineering student from Chulalongkorn University, said his vision and experience had been broadened by what he learnt in college, where purely technical lessons are taught.
“In real life, it’s not only about how you pour the cement, it’s also about how you deal with customers and provide consultation. It’s also about how you manage your project in an orderly way. It’s about many more things,” he said.
The student learnt that MEC based its construction and quality-design philosophy on the “Five Eyes” concept, comprising the check eye, eco eye, custom eye, life eye and community eye.
These respectively relate to high-quality products, eco-friendliness, the excitement of creating one’s own personal living space, safety and security, and social fulfilment.
The Japanese company has also initiated an “eye plus” – an additional eye to collect customer feedback, combine it with trace records and know-how, and reflect all this in its future products.
Apiwich said he hoped that this rounded concept could inspire him in driving his final group project required for graduation.
Thanakarn, meanwhile, also thought that the knowledge gained from the trip could contribute to his academic platform.
“I think classes, for example on estate laws or personnel management, could be taught as selective options in universities, so that students interested in growing a career path in real estate can obtain this additional yet necessary knowledge before starting their jobs,” he explained.
Piyawan “Newton” Weerapaiboon, now freshly graduated from Kasetsart University’s Irrigation College, thought that the Japanese working culture and process she had observed could contribute in her work as a site engineer at AP (Thailand).
“Japanese workers do not miss a centimetre when it comes to measurement. And that’s how construction should be managed,” she said.
“Professionalism counts for a lot, too. A female site engineer is rare, so I always get giggled at by male workers. I have to position myself properly, as I need to manage projects in an orderly way,” she added.
Piyawan also saw the potential of the precast system, under which some of the key construction elements are produced off-site before being delivered to a construction site.
“As Japanese labour costs are high, MEC has chosen to adopt this system to cut its cost,” she said, adding, “This also makes the sites ‘drier’ when compared with those in Thailand, where most parts are moulded at the place of construction.”
“I visited the MEC site on a rainy day, but there was not a single sticky piece of mud smearing my shoes,” she said with a chuckle.
“But what’s more important is that it makes the sites safer places for construction workers,” she added.
The three students were taken to Tokyo by Pumipat Sinacharoen, AP (Thailand)’s chief people officer, who wishes to elevate real-estate knowledge in society through the AP Academy that he directs.
“Efforts to build knowledge |in Thailand about real estate |have not been very fruitful, and we need to do something to make it [people’s knowledge] grow,” Pumipat said.
“And I’m impressed with these three young-generation students, who saw the whole picture of real-estate procedure. They know that it’s not only technical, but also about logistics, business and everything else besides,” he added.