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New director of National Nano Fab Center was named.
Professor Ki-Ro Lee from the Electrical Engineering Department of KAIST has been appointed as the new Director of National Nano Fab Center, an affiliated institute to KAIST and will serve the position for three years beginning from May 4, 2010. Director Lee graduated from Seoul National University in 1976 and received his doctoral degree from University of Minnesota, Twincities, the US, in 1983. He has taught at the Electrical Engineering Department since 1986. While at KAIST, he served as the dean of research affairs from 1998-200 and 2004-2005, respectively. From 2005 to 2007, he worked as the Director of LG Advanced Institute of Technology.
A KAIST graduate to become a professor at a prestigious university in UAE
A KAIST graduate to become a professor at a prestigious university in UAE Dr. Jerald Yoo, a KAIST graduate, has been appointed as an assistant professor at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), by the recommendation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since April 1, 2010. The MIST is a private, not-for-profit, independent, research-driven institute developed with the support and cooperation of MIT and the Abu Dhabi government, which was opened in September 2009. Currently, at the school, there are 25 professors and 100 students from 22 countries around the world. The institute has a campus in Masdar City where the Abu Dhabi government plans to nurture it as a “place for zero carbon emissions.” According to an agreement between the MIST and MIT, Professor Yoo will teach and work on co-research projects at MIT for one year beginning in May 2010 and then working at the MIST thereafter. Professor Yoo received all of his degrees (BS, MS, and Ph.D.) from KAIST majoring in electrical engineering and earned his doctoral degree in January 2010. His research works included developing a wearable patch to monitor bio signals with an application of wearable sensor networks and low energy electronic circuit technologies. During his doctoral study, Professor Yoo published papers at the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) and in journals of IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society (SSCS). Professor Yoo said, "The wearable health care system is certainly necessary to improve the quality of our lives, and the field should receive a sustaining support for further research. I will do my best to continuously produce valuable research results and hope that my research works will be helpful for an academic exchange between South Korea and Abu Dhabi.” About the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) in Abu Dhabi: http://www.masdar.ac.ae/ The Masdar Institute is the centerpiece of the Masdar Initiative, a landmark program announced in April 2006 by the government of Abu Dhabi to establish an entirely new economic sector dedicated to alternative and sustainable energy. Masdar is a highly-strategic initiative with primary objectives of: helping drive the economic diversification of Abu Dhabi; maintaining and expanding Abu Dhabi"s position in evolving global energy markets; positioning Abu Dhabi as a developer of technology; and making a meaningful contribution towards sustainable human development. The Masdar Institute is a private, not-for-profit, independent, research-driven institute developed with the support and cooperation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The Institute offers Masters and (eventually) PhD programs in science and engineering disciplines, with a focus on advanced energy and sustainable technologies. It welcomes and encourages applications from qualified local and international students and provides fellowships to talented students who meet its high admission standards. Its faculty is of the highest quality and the intent is to have the structure of its top administration similar to MIT"s.
A Breakthrough for Cardiac Monitoring: Portable Smart Patch Makes It Possible for Real-time Observation of Heart Movement
Newly invented device makes the monitoring easier and convenient. Professor Hoi-Jun Yoo of KAIST, Department of Electrical Engineering, said that his research team has invented a smart patch for cardiac monitoring, the first of its kind in the world. Adhesive and can be applied directly to chest in human body, the patch is embedded with a built-in high performance semiconductor integrated circuit (IC), called Healthcare IC, and with twenty five electrodes formed on the patch’s surface. The 25-electrodes, with a capability of creating various configurations, can detect cardiac contractions and relaxations and collect electrocardiogram (ECG) signals. The Healthcare IC monitors ECG signals and sends the information to a portable data terminal like mobile phones, making it possible for a convenient, easy check up on cardiac observations. The key technologies used for the patch are the Healthcare IC that measures cardiovascular impedance and ECG signals, and the electronic circuit board made of four layers of fabric, between which electrodes, wireless antenna, circuit board, and flexible battery are installed. With the P-FCB (Planar Fashionable Circuit Board) technology, the research team explained, electrodes and a circuit board are directly stacked into the fabric. Additionally, the Healthcare IC (size: 5mm x 5mm), which has components of electrode control unit, ECG and cardiovascular resistance detection unit, data compression unit, Static Random Access Memory (SRAM), and wireless transmitter receiver, is attached on the fabric. The Healthcare IC is operated by an ultra-low electrical power. Like a medicated patch commonly used to relieve arthritis pains, the surface of smart patch is adhesive so that people can carry it around without much hassle. A finished product will be 15cm x 15 cm in size and 1mm high in thickness. The Healthcare IC can measure cardiovascular impedance variances with less than 0.81% distortion in 16 different configurations through differential current injectors and reconfigurable high sensitivity detection circuitry. “The patch will be ideal for patients who suffer a chronic heart disease and need to receive a continuous care for their condition. Once commercialized, the patch will allow the patients to conduct a self-diagnosis at anytime and anywhere,” said Yan Long, a member of the research team. There has been a continuously growing demand worldwide since 2000 for the development of technology that provides a suitable healthcare management to patients with a chronic heart disease (e.g., cardiovascular problems), but most of the technology developed today are only limited to monitoring electrical signals of heart activity. Cardiovascular monitors, commonly used at many of healthcare places nowadays, are too bulky to use and give uncomfortable feelings to patients when applied. Besides, the current monitors are connected to an electrical line for power supply, and they are unable to have a low power communication with an outdoor communication gadget, thus unavailable for wide use. Professor Yoo gave his presentation on this new invention at an international conference, International Solid-State Circuits Conference, held on February 8-10 in San Francisco. The subject of his presentation was “A 3.9mW 25-electorde Reconfigurable Thoracic Impedance/ECG SoC with Body-Channel Transponder.” (Picture 1) Structure of Smart Patch (Picture 2) Smart patch when applied onto human body (Picture 3) Data received from smart patch (Picture 4) Healthcare IC
Prof. Choi Unveils Method to Improve Emission Efficiency of OLED
A KAIST research team led by Prof. Kyung-Cheol Choi of the School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science discovered the surface plasmon-enhanced spontaneous emission based on an organic light-emitting device (OLED), a finding expected to improve OLED"s emission efficiency, KAIST authorities said on Thursday (July 9). For surface plasmon localization, silver nanoparticles were thermally deposited in a high vacuum on cathode. Since plasmons provide a strong oscillator decay channel, time-resolved photoluninescene (PL) results displayed a 1.75-fold increased emission rate, and continuous wave PL results showed a twofold enhanced intensity. "The method using surface plasmon represents a new technology to enhance the emission efficiency of OLED. It is expected to greatly contribute to the development of new technologies in OLED and flexible display, as well as securing original technology," Prof. Choi said. The finding was published in the April issue of Applied Physics Letters and the June 25 issue of Optics Express. It will be also featured as the research highlight of the August issue of Nature Photonics and Virtual Journal of Ultrafast Science.
Lecture Hall Named After Venture Businessman Min-Hwa Lee
A lecture hall in the Alumni Start-Up Building on the KAIST campus was named Min-Hwa Lee Hall in a ceremony on Tuesday to pay tribute to KAIST alumnus Min-Hwa Lee"s contributions to the development of Korean venture business. On hand at the ceremony were Sung-Woo Hong, head of the Small and Medium Business Administration, KAIST President Nam-Pyo Suh, dozens of KAIST alumni representatives, and figures from government research institutes. Lee, who obtained his M.S. (1978) and Ph.D. (1985) in Electrical Engineering from KAIST, established a fund of 10 billion won along with other KAIST alumni in 2001 and donated it for the construction of the Alumni Start-Up Building for aspiring entrepreneurs. To remember his lofty vision, KAIST decided to name a lecture hall after him. As a venture businessman, Lee founded the Madison, Ltd., one of the earliest venture companies in Korea, in 1985. Lee then played a leading role in the creation of the Korea Venture Industry Association in 1995, and in the establishment of KOSDAQ and the enactment of a special law for venture enterprises. KAIST will appoint Lee as an adjunct professor in recognition of his expertise in venture business and commercialization of new inventions. Lee will teach entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Management and the Institute for Gifted Students, a KAIST affiliate. "Dr. Lee has made a great contribution to the development of Korean venture business. At a time when commercialization of new inventions was at an infant stage, he nurtured technology ventures and built the foundation for the proliferation of technology venture," President Suh said. "We expect that he will strive to open the generation of technologies which will lead the development of Korea in the future and become a mentor of aspiring entrepreneurs," Suh added.
KAIST to hold International Workshop on Flexible Displays
The 2009 KAIST International Workshop on Flexible Displays will take place at the Electrical Engineering Building on June 25, university sources said on Tuesday (June 23). The workshop organized by the Center for Advanced Flexible Display Convergence (CAFDC) will explore the status and future vision of flexible and transparent plasma displays, which are among the key technologies for the development of the next-generation displays. There will be also discussions about technologies to realize the large-scale flexible and transparent display which is regarded as the display of the future. Among the speakers are some of the most prominent figures in the field. Gary Eden from University of Illinois, Prof. Kunihide Tachibana from Kyoto University, and Carol Wedding, the president of Imaging Systems Tech., USA and several other well-known professors and engineers will participate in the workshop. Professor Kyung-Cheol Choi, CAFDC chair, said: "The workshop will provide an excellent opportunity to examine the flexible and transparent plasma display technologies. It will also be a good chance to explore large-scale flexible and transparent displays from various technical viewpoints."
Prof. Cho's Team Awarded Best Paper Prize by IEEE
A team led by Prof. Seong-Hwan Cho of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, KAIST, won the 2009 Guillemin-Cauer Best Paper Award for their paper published in the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems Journal last May, university authorities said on Thursday (June 4). The team"s paper was entitled "A Time-based Bandpass ADC Using Time-Interleaved Voltage-Controlled Oscillators." The prize is given to a paper regarded as the best among about 350 papers published in the prestigious journal in the circuit theory area. Co-recipients of the award are Young-Gyu Yoon, Jae-Wook Kim and Tae-Kwang Jang. The award was presented at the annual 2009 International Symposium for Circuits and Systems in Taipei, Taiwan, on May 26. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or IEEE is an international non-profit, professional organization for the advancement of technology related to electricity. The New York-based organization has more than 365,000 members in about 150 countries making it the largest technical professional organization in the world.
International News Outlets Report on KAIST's On-Line Electric Vehicle Project
International news agencies such as the Associated Press and Reuters have recently reported on the "online" electric vehicle project KAIST is proceeding with. A number of newspapers abroad including the New York Times and the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong published the articles. Following are excerpts from those reports. ------------------- S. Koreans designing "online" electric vehicles By JEAN H. LEE Associated Press Urban visionaries in London and Seoul, two of the world"s busiest capital cities, foresee buses gliding through their streets with speed, ease and efficiency _ without emitting the exhaust fumes that scientists say are contributing to global warming.Under Mayor Boris Johnson"s vision, London"s iconic red double-decker Routemaster buses would be back on the streets _ but powered by electricity, not gasoline. Engineers at South Korea"s top-ranked KAIST university are meanwhile working on a novel prototype for an electric vehicle system: one that provides power on the go through induction strips laid into the roadway. Cities _ which house 75 percent of the world"s population and generate 80 percent of its pollution _ must take leadership in tackling the problem of polluting emissions, Johnson said Monday in Seoul on the eve of the third C40 Large Cities Climate Summit. "I think as a collective of cities, what we should be doing here in Seoul is agreeing that we are going to stop the endless addiction of mankind to the internal combustion engine," he told reporters. "It"s time that we moved away from fossil fuels. It"s time that we went for low-carbon vehicles." "Cars form many problems that we see in Korea as well as other countries. We use hydrocarbon organic fuels, mostly petroleum, and that, in turn, creates environmental problems _ and Seoul is notorious," said Suh Nam-pyo, president of KAIST in Daejeon, south of the South Korean capital. Seoul, population 10 million, is getting warmer three times faster than the world average, the National Meteorological Administration said Monday. The obvious solution, Suh said, is to "replace all these vehicles with vehicles that do not pollute the air and do not use oil." Back in March, Johnson zipped down a British highway in a U.S.-made electric car that he wrote marked "the beginning of a long-overdue revolution." He rhapsodized in a Telegraph newspaper editorial that the Tesla has no exhaust pipe, carburetor or fuel tank, and "while every other car on that motorway was a-parping and a-puttering, filling the air with fumes and particulates, this car was producing no more noxious vapours than a dandelion in an alpine meadow." Last month, he launched an ambitious plan to get 100,000 electric cars onto the streets of London by 2015. He pushed for the creation of 25,000 charging stations and vowed to convert some 1,000 city vehicles to make London the "electric car capital of Europe." "The age of the diesel-emitting bus has got to be over in London," Johnson said. And scientists are still grappling with the massive, sensitive, costly and fast-depleting batteries that take the place of international combustion engines and gasoline. Electric cars run between 40 and 120 miles (60 to 200 kilometers) on one charge, and it takes anywhere from two to seven hours to fully recharge, said Christian Mueller of the IHS Global Insight consulting firm. "Everybody is frantically working on coming up with a viable electric car," he said from Frankfurt, Germany. Batteries "aren"t yet at a state where we can say they are cheap, they"re reliable and they"re easy to come by. They all still have their technical drawbacks," said Mueller, who specializes in electrics and electronics. Suh, an MIT-trained inventor with some 60 international patents to his name, approached the challenge from another angle. "Why not have power transmitted on the ground and pick it up without using mechanical contact?" he said in an interview in his office overlooking the staging grounds for the university"s electric cars. KAIST"s "online" vehicles pick up power from trips, or inverters, embedded into the road rather than transmitted through rails or overhead wires. A small battery, one-fifth the size of the bulky batteries typically used, would give the vehicle enough power for another 50 miles (80 kilometers), said Cho Dong-ho, the scientist in charge of the project. South Korea produces its own nuclear power, meaning it can produce a continuous supply of energy to fuel such a plan. President Lee Myung-bak, whose government gave KAIST $50 million for two major projects, including the "online" electric vehicle, took a spin in February. Online buses are running at the KAIST campus and will begin test runs soon on the resort island of Jeju. But Seoul, which has promised to set aside $2 million for the underground charging system, is within Suh"s sights. He said 9,000 gasoline-fueled buses now crisscross the capital, with 1,000 going out of commission each year. He envisions replacing those aging buses with electric models. Initial test runs are expected to take place this year. Mueller, the consultant, called it a creative approach with potential. "It sounds very intriguing; you don"t store your energy, you provide it on the go." he said. "The (battery) storage problem is overcome instantly. That would be a very intriguing way of doing it." ----------------------------- South Korea tries recharging road to power vehicles By Jon Herskovitz SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea"s top technology university has developed a plan to power electric cars through recharging strips embedded in roadways that use a technology to transfer energy found in some electric toothbrushes. The plan, still in the experimental stage, calls for placing power strips about 20 cm (8 inches) to 90 cm (35 inches) wide and perhaps several hundred meters long built into the top of roads. Vehicles with sensor-driven magnetic devices on their underside can suck up energy as they travel over the strips without coming into direct contact. "If we place these strips on about 10 percent of roadways in a city, we could power electric vehicles," said Cho Dong-ho, the manager of the "online electric vehicle" plan at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. The university has built a prototype at its campus in Daejeon, about 140 km (90 miles) south of Seoul, for electric-powered golf carts and is working on designs that would power cars and buses. The system that can charge several vehicles at once would allow electric cars and buses to cut down on their battery sizes or extend their ranges. The non-contact transfer of electricity, also called inductive charging, works by magnets and cables on the underside of the vehicle making a connection with the current in the recharging strip to receive power as they travel over it. It is employed in some brands of electric toothbrushes that are sealed and water resistant, which do not need to be plugged into anything but use a magnetic connection to receive energy while resting in a cradle. The recharging strips, which are attached to small electrical stations, would be laid in places such as bus lanes and the roads running up to intersections so that vehicles could power up where traffic slows down, Cho said. The system will be tested later this year for use in the bus systems of Seoul and other South Korea cities while some of the country"s automakers are also cooperating in the project. Unlike electric lines used for trams, vehicles do not need to be in constant contact with the strips and a person can touch the lines without receiving a shock. The system so far has proven safe to humans and machinery, Cho said. The cost of installing the system is an estimated 400 million won ($318,000) per kilometer of road. Electricity is extra.
International Workshop on Flexible Displays Held on Aug. 21-22
An international workshop on flexible displays will be held at KAIST on Aug. 21-22. The workshop organized by Center for Advanced Flexible Display Convergence (CAFDC) in KAIST is designed to share ideas on the latest research developments and explore future trends in organic displays. Organic displays made from organic light-emitting diode (OLED) materials have recently made a real impact in consumer electronics and emerged as one of the most important technologies in the development of next-generation flexible displays. "The workshop is expected to provide an important opportunity to showcase latest technological developments using organic light-emitting diode and examine them from the perspectives of the next-generation flexible display," said Dr. Kyung-Cheol Choi, KAIST professor of electrical engineering and computer science who heads the CAFDC. The event will feature some of the world-renowned scholars in organic display including Prof. Stephen R. Forrest of the University of Michigan, Prof. Bernard Kippelen of Georgia Tech, and Prof. Takao Someya of the University of Tokyo, as theme presenters. It will also draw a slew of domestic scholars in the industry and academia.
Home-Grown Transparent Thin Film Transistor Developed
KAIST, Aug. 6, 2008 -- A KAIST research team led by Profs. Jae-Woo Park and Seung-Hyup Yoo of the Electrical Engineering Division has developed a home-grown technology to create transparent thin film transistor using titanium dioxide., university authorities said.The KAIST team made the technological advance in collaboration with the LCD Division of Samsung Electronics and the Techno Semichem Co., a local LCD equipment maker. Transparent thin film transistor continues to enjoy a wealth of popularity and intensive research interest since it is used in producing operating circuits including transparent display, active-matrix OLED (AMOLED) display and flexible display. The new technology is significant in that it is based on a titanium dioxide, the first such attempt in the world, while the technologies patented by the United States and Japan are based on ZnO. Researchers will continue to work on securing technological reliability and developing a technology to mass-produce in a large-scale chemical vapor deposition equipment for the next couple of years. "The development of technology to produce transparent thin film transistor will help Korean LCD makers reduce its dependence on foreign technologies, as well as maintain Korea"s status as a leader of the world"s display industry," said Prof. Park. KAIST has applied for local patent registration of the technology and the process is expected to complete by this October or November. International patents have been also applied for in the U.S., Japan and Europe. The new technology was introduced in the latest edition of the Electron Device Letters, a journal published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or IEEE, a New York-based international non-profit, professional organization for the advancement of technology related to electricity. It will be presented at the International Display Workshop 2008 on Dec. 5 in Niigata, Japan.
Super-Fast Internet Data Chip Developed
A KAIST research team led by Prof. Kyoung-Hoon Yang of the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department developed a super-fast chip that could lead to huge advancements in broadband Internet technology, the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said on Thursday (June 26). The multiplexer chip is the first of its kind to be developed using the quantum effect of resonant tunnelling diode, according to the Ministry. The integrated circuit chip built at the university laboratory has an operating speed of 45 gigabits per second (Gb/s), while using roughly 75 percent less energy than the previous version. The speed enables the transfer of about 4 full-length movies in one second. The best operational broadband Internet services provide users with data transfer speed of 40 Gb/s, while most other high-speed online connections offer 10 Gb/s. "Besides speed, the greatest achievement is low energy use," Prof. Yang said. He stressed that energy use in chips is a crucial factor because power creates heat that can melt circuits and make them inoperable. "By cutting down on energy use, the new chips can be made smaller and with faster data transfer speed," the scientist said. He added that efforts are underway to increase operational speed to 100 Gb/s, with energy consumption to be cut to 10 percent of current chips like the high electron mobility transistor, the heterojunction bipolar transistor and the complementary metal oxide semiconductor. The researcher speculated that such revolutionary chips could be developed in 1-2 years and become the new benchmark in this field since existing chips have limited development capabilities. The project has received funding from the Education-Science-Technology Ministry since 2000. The Ministry"s financial support will last until 2010.
Int'l Herald Tribune Carries Feature Story on KAIST
International Herald Tribune carried a feature story on KAIST"s ongoing reform efforts on the front page of its Jan. 19-20 edition. The following is the full text of the report. http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/01/18/asia/school.php South Korean science prepares to take on the world By Choe Sang-Hun Friday, January 18, 2008 DAEJEON, South Korea: In Professor Cho Dong Ho"s laboratory at Kaist, South Korea"s top science and technology university, researchers are trying to develop technology that could let you fold a notebook-size electronic display and carry it in your pocket like a handkerchief. It"s too early to say when something like this might be commercially available. But the experiment has already achieved one important breakthrough: it has mobilized professors from eight departments to collaborate on an idea proposed by a student. This arrangement is almost unheard of in South Korea, where the norm is for a senior professor to dictate research projects to his own cloistered team. But it"s only one change afoot at this government-financed university, which has ambitions to transform the culture of South Korean science, and more. "When we first got the student"s idea on what a future display should look like, we thought it was crazy, stuff from science fiction," said Cho, director of Kaist"s Institute for Information Technology Convergence. "But under our new president, we are being urged to try things no one else is likely to." That university president is Suh Nam Pyo, 71, a mechanical engineer who used to be an administrator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and who is spearheading closely watched changes that are expected to have ramifications far beyond this campus 90 minutes by car south of Seoul. His moves so far, from requiring professors to teach in English to basing student admissions on factors other than test scores, are aimed at making the university, and by extension South Korean society, much more competitive on a world scale. When the South Korean government hired Suh in 2006 to shake up the state-financed Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (which formally changed its name to its acronym, Kaist, on Jan. 1) the country"s leading schools faced a crisis. The old system, which guaranteed free tuition to lure promising students into science and technology, the drivers of South Korea"s industrial growth, was no longer working as well as it used to. Prosperity was allowing those young people to choose fields of study once viewed as luxuries, like literature and history. Worse, increasing numbers were choosing to study abroad, mostly in the United States, and then not returning home. The fear was that South Korean institutions and enterprises would be gutted of expertise. That concern was voiced at a news conference Monday by the president-elect, Lee Myung Bak, who said the educational system "isn"t producing talent that can compete globally." Kaist, which was established in 1971 with foreign aid, has a special place in South Korean education. The military strongman Park Chung Hee recruited the brightest young people to train there as scientists and engineers. Villagers put up a large banner to celebrate whenever a local child was admitted. "When I was a student here in the mid-1980s, some students stopped before the national flag at the library in the morning and observed a moment of silence, vowing to dedicate ourselves to the nation"s industrial development," said Cho Byung Jin, a professor of electrical engineering. Since his arrival, Suh has become the most talked-about campus reformer in South Korea by taking on some of Kaist"s most hallowed traditions. In a first for a Korean university, Suh has insisted that all classes eventually be taught in English, starting with those aimed at freshmen. "I want Kaist students to work all over the world," Suh said last week. "I don"t want them to be like other Koreans who attend international conferences and have a lunch among themselves because they are afraid of speaking in English." The move to English supports another of his changes: opening undergraduate degree programs to talented non-Koreans. Last year Kaist filled 51 of its 700 admission slots with foreign students on full scholarships. Meanwhile, he has ended free tuition for all; any student whose grade average falls below a B must pay up to $16,000 a year. "My dream is to make Kaist a globalized university, one of the best universities in the world," he said. In what may have been his most daring move, the university denied tenure to 15 of the 35 professors who applied last September. Until then, few if any applicants had failed tenure review in the university"s 36-year history. In this education-obsessed country, Suh"s actions have been watched intensely for their broader impact. More than 82 percent of all high school graduates go on to higher education. What university a South Korean attends in his 20s can determine his position and salary in his 50s, a factor behind recent expos?of prominent South Koreans who faked prestigious diplomas. The system is widely deplored but seldom challenged. From kindergarten, a child"s life is shaped largely by a single goal: doing well in examinations, particularly the all-important national college entrance exam. High school students plod through rote learning from dawn to dusk. Tutoring by "exam doctors" is a multibillion-dollar industry. During vacations, students attend private cram schools, which numbered 33,000 in 2006. One result is a disciplined and conformist work force, an advantage when South Korea rapidly industrialized by copying technology from others. But now, with the country trying to climb the innovation ladder, the rigid school system is proving a stumbling block. The nation"s highly hierarchical ways are often cited to explain how Hwang Woo Suk, the disgraced South Korean scientist who claimed he had produced stems cells from a cloned human embryo, could fabricate research findings with the complicity of junior associates. The ambitious head overseas. Last year, 62,392 South Korean students were enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities, making them the third-largest foreign student group, after Indians (83,833) and Chinese (67,723), according to the U.S. Institute of International Education. Some start earlier. About 35,000 South Korean children below college age go abroad each year, most to the United States to learn English. Against this backdrop, Kaist has been experimenting with test-free admissions. For this year"s class, it brought applicants in for interviews and debates and make presentations while professors looked for creativity and leadership. "About 20 percent of the students who formerly would have won admission didn"t make it under our new guidelines," Suh said. "We are looking for rough diamonds." Challenging the status quo can be risky. The Science and Technology Ministry, which oversees Kaist, had first looked outside South Korea for someone to lead the changes, choosing the Nobel physics laureate Robert Laughlin, who became the first foreigner to head a South Korean university in 2004. But he returned to Stanford University within two years, after the faculty rebelled against him for attempting some of the same changes Suh has instituted, accusing him, among other things, of insensitivity to Korean ways. Suh"s Korean roots and experience shield him from such charges. He did not emigrate to the United States until he was 18 and has worked at Korean universities as well as serving as assistant director at the U.S. National Science Foundation in the 1980s and head of MIT"s department of mechanical engineering from 1991 to 2001. "Reform entails sacrifices, but even if we don"t reform, there will be sacrifices," Suh said. "The difference is that if we don"t reform and don"t encourage competition, it"s the best people who are sacrificed." So far, Suh"s innovations have mostly received favorable reviews. Education Minister Kim Shi Il called them a "very desirable way of making Korea"s universities more competitive globally." The newspaper JoongAng Daily (which publishes an English-language version in partnership with the IHT) praised him for "smashing the iron rice bowls" (ending guaranteed job security) for professors and said, "We must learn from Kaist." Ewan Stewart, a British physicist who has taught at Kaist since 1999, said, "Many of the things President Suh is saying were things I felt should have been said a long time ago." Chung Joo Yeon, a first-year student, said she accepted the need for classes in English, but complained that some professors had no experience teaching in the language. But Cho, the electrical engineering professor, said: "It"s no longer a matter of choice. If we want to maintain our school"s standards, we must draw talents from countries around the world, and that means we must conduct our classes in English." Meanwhile, Lee has promised that as president he will give universities more autonomy by taking the "government"s hands off" how they select their students.
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