President Steve Kang of KAIST and President Eric W. Kaler of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (United States) signed a memorandum of understanding to create exchange programs for students and faculty and to conduct joint research in the field of health and food. The following is an excerpt from President Kaler’s blog (https://storify.com/UMNstory/globalumn-hksk#edaadf) on his visit of KAIST on November 18, 2015:
A visit to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
About 90 miles from Seoul—and more than that two-and-a-half-hours of a bus ride through the rugged early-morning traffic of South Korea’s capital city—sits Daejeon, Korea’s sixth largest city and home to KAIST, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Today, President Kaler and the small University of Minnesota delegation accompanying him visited what’s considered Korea’s MIT, a place focused on research and known to push the limits toward the future.
Fingernail heart monitors? Wireless anesthetic-monitoring devices?
KAIST is working on them.
The overlap of interests—from biomedical engineering to nanotechnology to robotics—between KAIST (pronounced “Kyst”) and the U are remarkable. Smartphone apps to monitor human health and GPS-driven robots to serve military interests or deliver packages were among the developing inventions that KAIST scientists showed to Kaler.
And even the personal relationships seem to illustrate the cliché of a small world and the natural affinity of Minnesota and KAIST.
KAIST’s President Sang Mo Kang was once the head of the University of Illinois’ department of electrical and computer engineering, and he and Kaler—a renowned chemical engineer before becoming the U’s president—hit it off … despite disagreeing about the potential outcome of Saturday’s Illinois-Gophers football game.
Accompanying Kaler on the day’s journey, meetings, and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two schools to advance collaborations was U Associate Professor Sang Hyun Oh. Oh happens to be a physics graduate of this very KAIST and is now a rising star in Minnesota’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
The two sides agreed to focus on matching scholars on their respective campuses to discuss the sorts of research the two institutions can partner on. The idea of “Grand Challenges,” at the core of the U’s Twin Cities campus Strategic Plan, has fascinated Korean higher education leaders during Kaler’s weeklong visit, and KAIST’s leadership was interested in the health and food research, two U strengths.
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