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2008 New Year's Message from President​
View : 10989 Date : 2007-12-31 Writer : ed_news

New Year’s Greeting

I would like to wish you and your family a prosperous and happy New Year. I also hope that 2008 will be a great year for KAIST.

2007: Year in Review

Thanks to all of your hard work and dedication, 2007 has been a productive year for KAIST. We have undertaken many difficult and challenging tasks in order to make KAIST one of the leading universities in the world. As president, I would like to express my deep appreciation to all  members of our community for your many contributions. You have all worked effectively and with great dedication toward accomplishing many of our goals.

With your help, leadership, and support we have taken three major steps towards raising our standards. We have improved undergraduate education, created KAIST Institutes to undertake important interdisciplinary research, and improved our system of governance. I believe that these changes will make KAIST much stronger, increasing the intellectual productivity and performance of our students and faculty.

But our job is not done yet. We have far to go before reaching our goal of making KAIST one of the best universities in the world.

Goals of KAIST

KAIST is a great university. Its students are among the brightest young people in the world. We have a first-rate faculty. We have hard working staff, and KAIST benefits from the generous support of the Korean people. It is clear we have what it takes to be one of the leading universities in the world.

The history of science and technology teaches us that academia continually creates new intellectual fields to deal with emerging opportunities and to respond to societal needs. Universities that are most successful are those that are best at responding to our changing world.  KAIST has the opportunity to become a leading university by searching for and solving important problems that require new approaches and new thinking.

There are many reasons KAIST should strive to be the best.  Doing so will enable the university to attract the best students and resources, in an increasingly competitive and global academic environment. This will create an atmosphere of intellectual excitement and vigor benefiting both faculty and students.  This environment will put our faculty and students in league with the world’s other leading universities’ experts.
 
Tasks Ahead

To this end, we still face formidable obstacles.  However, we can overcome them through great resolve, ingenuity, planning, and sacrifice.

Without change, KAIST will of course continue to advance. But the world’s other leading universities are advancing exponentially faster.  KAIST must do more to be in the same league.  We must identify new opportunities in all areas, invest in innovative ideas, and lead the field in important areas of science and technology.

What we have done in 2007

We have already made progress towards these goals in 2007. Some of our efforts have been difficult and painful to implement.

   a. Undergraduate education
   We introduced many measures to educate our students in a way that will prepare them to become future leaders. We have taken measures to make students more accountable for their actions, while also teaching them to be bi-modally functional in synthesis and analysis.

   We have also pursued international collaborations by establishing dual degree programs, which will begin in 2008 with Carnegie Mellon and Georgia Institute of Technology. We are currently working to establish similar programs with European and Asian universities as well.


   b. KAIST Institutes
   We have established research institutes to focus on KAIST’s current strengths. And we have also instituted “high risk/ high return” research-support programs to encourage creativity and innovation.

   c. EEWS
   In order to address the most pressing concerns of the 21st century, we have begun major research support in areas related to energy, the environment, water and sustainability. These global problems require international collaboration, which we are actively seeking.

   d. Governance
   We restructured KAIST into a department-centric system to enable those who know their fields best to be the primary decision makers. Departments will have the primary responsibility for personnel, finance, space, and education, all of which will be coordinated by the central administration for consistency and checks and balances. We will further develop this system, establishing deep roots in the years to come.

   e. Buildings and Generous Donors
   We were extremely fortunate to find generous donors who were willing to provide the financial support for KAIST. I am personally very grateful to Dr. & Mr. Byiung Joon Park for the KI building, and Dr. & Mrs. Neil Papparlardo for the hospital and medical center. We are hoping to find other generous donors for the Sports Complex and other important undertakings of KAIST.


Tasks for 2008

In 2008, we must do the following:

   1. Teach well.
   2. Generate outstanding graduates who can function and compete in a global environment.
   3. Produce outstanding research results by identifying important and challenging problems that require creative thinking, new ideas, and innovative paradigms to replace those that do not work any more.
   4. Lead the field of science and engineering by anticipating future needs and opportunities.
   5. Secure financial resources to compensate outstanding faculty and staff at a globally competitive scale and to maintain an infrastructure fit for research.
   6. Increase the size of the faculty and student body to a more competitive level.
   7. Recruit outstanding students, faculty and staff.
   8. Build new facilities such as the Park Building for KAIST Institutes, the Pappalardo Hospital and Medical Center, the International House, and the Sports Complex.

To achieve these tasks, we have created the Five-Year Development Plan and have implemented new programs and policies with the support of the faculty, the students and the staff.

New Opportunities Ahead

We may have new opportunities to make major contributions in a number of different areas. Before implementing any new programs and policies, the faculty, staff, and administration must consider them carefully and evaluate them thoroughly.

I will discuss a few these opportunities that we should consider exploring:

   1. Information Technology (IT)

   The fact that IT is an important area does not need any elaboration. Korea is a leading IT nation. IT has changed the way people communicate, live and produce. It has increased the productivity of the world. IT will continue to evolve and let us do things that cannot be done today.

   How will the field of IT change in the future? How should KAIST lead the change?

   Much of the IT revolution consists of hard technologies such as advances in semiconductors, wireless communications, fiber optics, displays, communications technology (switching, networking, etc.), and others. Although these hard technologies will continue to be important and occupy the minds of our brightest engineers, they may evolve in the way the computer field has evolved. For example, in the past, the limited and costly storage of data occupied much of the thinking in the computer science and engineering field. Also the speed of microprocessors was a major limiting factor in the use of computers. However, today the cost of data storage is almost insignificant in comparison to other costs. Advances in data storage have changed the practice and opportunities in the field of computers. Similarly, the current limiting factors involving hardware and data transmission may cease to drive the IT field in the future. What may be equally important is the management and engineering of content that are generated optically, by software, and by the users in a network.

   Examples of possible new directions in IT (in addition to traditional IT):
    (a) KAIST should explore whether or not we need to create a new curriculum and a department for “content creation, management and engineering” and generate new kinds of graduates.
    (b) Another topic that may be considered as being a part of the IT content management issue is the healthcare and management. In this field, Professors WonJoon Kim (BEP), BumSoon Park and SoYoung Kim (Culture Science), and Taesik Lee (Industrial Engineering) are exploring how to deal with health-related issues which will require a new use of IT as well as other disciplines such as design and social science

   2. Ocean Systems Engineering and Science

   KAIST does not currently teach or conduct research on topics related to ocean, shipbuilding, and sea transportation systems, despite their importance in the 21st century.

   Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water. It is the arbitrator of earth’s climate and holds abundant natural resources. It also provides the cheapest means of transporting goods. It may be the place to sequestrate excess materials such as CO2 that needs to be removed from the atmosphere and land. Furthermore, current shipping systems and harbor design may be outdated and inefficient. Yet research and education in ocean science and engineering are not responding to the current needs of society.

   Shipbuilding is a very important industry to Korea. Korea builds more ships than any other nation, and ship-building contributes the most to the nation’s current account balance.

   Further, it appears that the demand for ships will continue to increase as the global shipment of goods and natural resources by ships continues to increase with the rapid industrialization of China and India. With increases in international trade, the need to use the ocean transportation system is likely to grow and exceed the current capacity of the infrastructure.

   KAIST should explore opportunities in areas related to shipbuilding, natural resource mining, sequestration of CO2 and deposition of other materials, ocean transportation systems, and environmental science and engineering of the ocean.

   3. Life Science and Engineering
 
   KAIST has made and will be making a major investment in biology, brain science, bioengineering, the ME/PhD program, and other life science and engineering fields. KAIST will be seeking a major funding for research in brain science and neuroscience from abroad as well as within Korea. We need to identify new opportunities to increase the productivity of these diverse investments. Right now, the collaboration and coordination between colleagues in the life sciences and engineering is not well organized, although the KI for the BioCentury is promoting multi-disciplinary research. There has to be a better integration from life science to life engineering and technology at KAIST if we are to convince funding agencies and foundations to give us major financial support and to attract outstanding scholars in this field to KAIST.

Concluding Remarks

In 2007, we worked hard to make KAIST one of the world’s top universities. We are moving in the right direction in enhancing our students’ long-term personal and professional growth, for advancement of science and engineering, for technological innovation, and for the future well being of humanity.

In 2008, we will continue to face new challenges that may appear to be beyond our capabilities, but we know we can achieve a lot when we work together. There are many things we have to do. We must continue to be creative in teaching and research, and we must use our resources wisely and frugally. We must support those amongst us, who are exceptionally creative and hard working, and continue to secure the necessary financial support to strengthen our educational and research programs.

Thank you again for your many important contributions.

I wish you and your family a most happy and prosperous New Year.


                                                                                                                                                 January 1, 2008
                                                                                                                         KAIST  President Nam Pyo Suh

 

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