A Texas A&M Engineering Graduate Assisted In The Thai Cave Rescue

Rescuers install a water pump inside Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 28, 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Rescuers battle heavy rain in northern Thailand as they continued the search for 12 boys and their soccer coach who have been missing in Tham Luang Nang Non cave since Saturday night after monsoon rains blocked the main entrance. Teams of Navy SEAL divers worked their way through submerged passageways in the sprawling underground caverns as senior Thai government officials warned on Wednesday that time is running out and the search intensifies for the young soccer team, aged between 11 to 16, and their their 25-year-old coach, with soldiers and park rangers seeking other entry points into the cave system.  (Linh Pham/Getty Images)

Rescuers install a water pump inside Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 28, 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Linh Pham/Getty Images)

By Sam Peshek, Texas A&M University Marketing & Communications

Ruktai “Ace” Prurapark, a petroleum engineer who earned masters and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University, served as a drilling engineer on the team that rescued a boys soccer team and their coach from Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand’s Chiang Rai Province in June.

“I considered it a privilege to be a part of this incredible mission. It was a heartwarming experience to witness people from a vast number of organizations around the world coming together,” Prurapark said via email. “As the boys and their coach were discovered, I felt it was a grand testament of human spirit, a success story which only can be achieved when we work together and put our best minds and efforts into helping others.”

Aggies who remembered Prurapark from his time on campus recognized him when he appeared in a July 7 segment on ABC News.

Prurapark earned a master’s degree in petroleum engineering in 2005 and a Ph.D. in the same field from Texas A&M. After earning his Ph.D. he joined Schlumberger Well Service Company for three years, and later the World Bank in Washington D.C. as a consultant before moving back to Thailand in 2012. During his time at Texas A&M he said he learned valuable lessons in risk assessment and the importance of selfless service.

“As an Aggie we always learn to use our knowledge to serve the community in any way. This is our highest aim. Furthermore, the petroleum engineering knowledge that I learned from Texas A&M University is helping me a lot and as an Aggie we won’t stop until we complete the mission,” he said.

Prurapark said he was working as a professor at Srinakharinwirot University as the head of the International School of Engineering and on an energy subcommittee in the Thai Senate, where he served as a representative from the Ministry of Natural Resources, when he had the opportunity to volunteer on the rescue mission.

During his five days working on the rescue mission, his team was responsible for drilling to feed air and drain water inside of the cave and develop a backup plan, which included drilling a large hole into the cave to bring the children out. In the time Prurapark was on location, the children were found and the first group of children were rescued from the cave.

Prurapark has since returned to his teaching and advisory duties, but also hopes to return to College Station for a visit.

“After I earned my Ph.D. from Texas A&M, I only had a chance to visit the campus a couple times. The last time was 2011,” Prurapark said. “I wish to visit the campus again very soon.”


Media contact: Sam Peshek, 979-845-4680, sam.peshek@tamu.edu.


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