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World-renowned Soprano Sumi Jo and Broadcom CEO Hock Tan awarded honorary doctorate from KAIST
< (From left) Sumi Jo, Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Culture and Technology, and Broadcom President and CEO Hock Tan > KAIST (President Kwang-Hyung Lee) announced that it awarded honorary doctorates to world-renowned soprano Sumi Jo, a distinguished visiting professor at the Graduate School of Culture and Technology, and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Broadcom Inc., Hock Tan, at the graduation ceremony held on the 16th of February, 2024. Professor Sumi Jo, who received an honorary doctorate in science and technology, was appointed as a visiting professor at KAIST Graduate School of Culture and Technology in 2021 and established the "Sumi Jo Performing Arts Research Center" and have been involved in research providing valuable feedback on projects to put on stage performances utilizing AI-orchestrated musical ensemble technology and research on virtual voices using vocal synthesis technology, as well as participating in the demonstration of the technological performance showcased at KAIST. Also, she held a special lecture and a talk concert for KAIST students, sharing her experience as a celebrated soprano on the world stage and having honest conversations with students. KAIST said, “The doctorate is being awarded in recognition of her contributions that is broadening the spectrum of research in the field of science and technology to lead the digital era by suggesting a direction for future science and technology to take led by culture. Also, her significant contribution to promoting necessary internationalization capabilities helps KAIST as it is growing into a world-class university through new academic challenges.” < Professor Sumi Jo (left), who received an honorary doctorate in science and technology, and President Kwang-Hyung Lee > Professor Sumi Jo, who debuted as Gilda in the opera in 1986, has performed with world-class conductors such as Herbert von Karajan, Georg Solti, Zubin Mehta, and James Levine. She has released over 40 full-length albums and continues to excel in all areas of vocal performances, including film scores, songs, and musicals. Professor Sumi Jo said, “When I received a proposal from President Kwang-Hyung Lee of KAIST to convey what I experienced and felt on the world stage to students of science at KAIST under the topic of ‘Music and My Life,’ questions started to swirl inside of me.” She continued, “Singing on stage is about ‘expressing,’ and it is a comprehensive artistic process that unfolding the artist’s inner self (expression) and showing it (presentation) in a way that the audience can best feel it through methods such as sound, lighting, and directing. And I realized that, I was singing all my life in an environment where science and technology coexisted with culture and art.” “When I worked with the students here at KAIST, I came to realize that when scientific and technologically talented people are set free to really enjoy their ideas and explore them on their own terms, their insight become sharper and their creativity become richer,” she said. She went on to add, “I am proud to be able to join the graduates at the ceremony and would like to express my gratitude for awarding me the honorary doctorate.” < (From left) President Hock Tan, who received the honorary doctorate in engineering, Mrs. Lya Trung Tan, and President Kwang-Hyung Lee > Hock Tan received an honorary doctorate in engineering. He is a highly successful businessman who demonstrated entrepreneurship based on a profound understanding of science and technology, which transformed Broadcom into a global enterprise in technology that provides semiconductor and software solutions. Broadcom has achieved advancement and technological innovation in the semiconductor industry tailored to computer and telecommunication networks, and is evaluated as having played a major role in bringing about the digital transformation movement that is now encompassing the global communities. Tan attributes the secret to his success to ‘the considerate decision made by the university to award him the scholarship which enabled him to pursue his degree’ and ‘the great team members working with him’..’ Also, he is well-known as a person who considers giving back to society his most important mission. To support effective medical treatment and identification of the cause of autism, Tan has made large donations to MIT and Harvard University since 2017 several times, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, he reinforced his support to improve the treatment of workers at community medical institutions and non-profit organizations. He also founded the Broadcom Foundation, which supports science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs for students in and outside the United States. KAIST said, “We are awarding CEO Hock Tan the honorary doctorate in recognition of his contribution to KAIST’s emergence as a world-class university, as he emphasized the importance of convergence research and internationalization of KAIST during his time serving as an overseas member of the KAIST President's Advisory Council from 2006 to 2013, while providing policy advices built on his experiences of innovations from various parts around the world.” Tan emphasized, “KAIST has been vital to Korea’s advancement in the global economy. (KAIST) remains a source of technological innovation,” and that, “It is truly an honor to be recognized by an institution with such a distinguished record of excellence in science, engineering and research.” President Kwang-Hyung Lee said, “Professor Sumi Jo’s exploration into the future of performing arts through science and technology helps to expand KAIST’s scope and enhance our creative capabilities, while the dedication and humane efforts Hock Tan demonstrates as he contributes to digital innovation through corporate management and engages in various social contribution activities serves as a superb example to all members of KAIST.” He continued, “These two have lived out the values of challenge and innovation and became examples for many, and we are very pleased to welcome them as the newest members of the KAIST family. On behalf of all members of KAIST, I deliver our sincere congratulations.”
KAIST Holds 2023 Commencement Ceremony
< Photo 1. On the 17th, KAIST held the 2023 Commencement Ceremony for a total of 2,870 students, including 691 doctors. > KAIST held its 2023 commencement ceremony at the Sports Complex of its main campus in Daejeon at 2 p.m. on February 27. It was the first commencement ceremony to invite all its graduates since the start of COVID-19 quarantine measures. KAIST awarded a total of 2,870 degrees including 691 PhD degrees, 1,464 master’s degrees, and 715 bachelor’s degrees, which adds to the total of 74,999 degrees KAIST has conferred since its foundation in 1971, which includes 15,772 PhD, 38,360 master’s and 20,867 bachelor’s degrees. This year’s Cum Laude, Gabin Ryu, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering received the Minister of Science and ICT Award. Seung-ju Lee from the School of Computing received the Chairman of the KAIST Board of Trustees Award, while Jantakan Nedsaengtip, an international student from Thailand received the KAIST Presidential Award, and Jaeyong Hwang from the Department of Physics and Junmo Lee from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering each received the President of the Alumni Association Award and the Chairman of the KAIST Development Foundation Award, respectively. Minister Jong-ho Lee of the Ministry of Science and ICT awarded the recipients of the academic awards and delivered a congratulatory speech. Yujin Cha from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, who received a PhD degree after 19 years since his entrance to KAIST as an undergraduate student in 2004 gave a speech on behalf of the graduates to move and inspire the graduates and the guests. After Cha received a bachelor’s degree from the Department of Nuclear and Quantum Engineering, he entered a medical graduate school and became a radiation oncology specialist. But after experiencing the death of a young patient who suffered from osteosarcoma, he returned to his alma mater to become a scientist. As he believes that science and technology is the ultimate solution to the limitations of modern medicine, he started as a PhD student at the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering in 2018, hoping to find such solutions. During his course, he identified the characteristics of the decision-making process of doctors during diagnosis, and developed a brain-inspired AI algorithm. It is an original and challenging study that attempted to develop a fundamental machine learning theory from the data he collected from 200 doctors of different specialties. Cha said, “Humans and AI can cooperate by humans utilizing the unique learning abilities of AI to develop our expertise, while AIs can mimic us humans’ learning abilities to improve.” He added, “My ultimate goal is to develop technology to a level at which humans and machines influence each other and ‘coevolve’, and applying it not only to medicine, but in all areas.” Cha, who is currently an assistant professor at the KAIST Biomedical Research Center, has also written Artificial Intelligence for Doctors in 2017 to help medical personnel use AI in clinical fields, and the book was selected as one of the 2018 Sejong Books in the academic category. During his speech at this year’s commencement ceremony, he shared that “there are so many things in the world that are difficult to solve and many things to solve them with, but I believe the things that can really broaden the horizons of the world and find fundamental solutions to the problems at hand are science and technology.” Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Sae Byul Park who studied at the KAIST Graduate School of Culture Technology will also receive her PhD degree. Natural language processing (NLP) is a field in AI that teaches a computer to understand and analyze human language that is actively being studied. An example of NLP is ChatGTP, which recently received a lot of attention. For her research, Park analyzed music rather than language using NLP technology. To analyze music, which is in the form of sound, using the methods for NLP, it is necessary to rebuild notes and beats into a form of words or sentences as in a language. For this, Park designed an algorithm called Mel2Word and applied it to her research. She also suggested that by converting melodies into texts for analysis, one would be able to quantitatively express music as sentences or words with meaning and context rather than as simple sounds representing a certain note. Park said, “music has always been considered as a product of subjective emotion, but this research provides a framework that can calculate and analyze music.” Park’s study can later be developed into a tool to measure the similarities between musical work, as well as a piece’s originality, artistry and popularity, and it can be used as a clue to explore the fundamental principles of how humans respond to music from a cognitive science perspective. Park began her Ph.D. program in 2014, while carrying on with her musical activities as well as public and university lectures alongside, and dealing with personally major events including marriage and childbirth during the course of years. She already met the requirements to receive her degree in 2019, but delayed her graduation in order to improve the level of completion of her research, and finally graduated with her current achievements after nine years. Professor Juhan Nam, who supervised Park’s research, said, “Park, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, later learned to code for graduate school, and has complete high-quality research in the field of artificial intelligence.” He added, “Though it took a long time, her attitude of not giving up until the end as a researcher is also excellent.” Sae Byul Park is currently lecturing courses entitled Culture Technology and Music Information Retrieval at the Underwood International College of Yonsei University. Park said, “the 10 or so years I’ve spent at KAIST as a graduate student was a time I could learn and prosper not only academically but from all angles of life.” She added, “having received a doctorate degree is not the end, but a ‘commencement’. Therefore, I will start to root deeper from the seeds I sowed and work harder as a both a scholar and an artist.” < Photo 2. From left) Yujin Cha (Valedictorian, Medical-Scientist Program Ph.D. graduate), Saebyeol Park (a singer-songwriter, Ph.D. graduate from the Graduate School of Culture and Technology), Junseok Moon and Inah Seo (the two highlighted CEO graduates from the Department of Management Engineering's master’s program) > Young entrepreneurs who dream of solving social problems will also be wearing their graduation caps. Two such graduates are Jun-seok Moon and Inah Seo, receiving their master’s degrees in social entrepreneurship MBA from the KAIST College of Business. Before entrance, Moon ran a café helping African refugees stand on their own feet. Then, he entered KAIST to later expand his business and learn social entrepreneurship in order to sustainably help refugees in the blind spots of human rights and welfare. During his master’s course, Moon realized that he could achieve active carbon reduction by changing the coffee alone, and switched his business field and founded Equal Table. The amount of carbon an individual can reduce by refraining from using a single paper cup is 10g, while changing the coffee itself can reduce it by 300g. 1kg of coffee emits 15kg of carbon over the course of its production, distribution, processing, and consumption, but Moon produces nearly carbon-neutral coffee beans by having innovated the entire process. In particular, the company-to-company ESG business solution is Moon’s new start-up area. It provides companies with carbon-reduced coffee made by roasting raw beans from carbon-neutral certified farms with 100% renewable energy, and shows how much carbon has been reduced in its making. Equal Table will launch the service this month in collaboration with SK Telecom, its first partner. Inah Seo, who also graduated with Moon, founded Conscious Wear to start a fashion business reducing environmental pollution. In order to realize her mission, she felt the need to gain the appropriate expertise in management, and enrolled for the social entrepreneurship MBA. Out of the various fashion industries, Seo focused on the leather market, which is worth 80 trillion won. Due to thickness or contamination issues, only about 60% of animal skin fabric is used, and the rest is discarded. Heavy metals are used during such processes, which also directly affects the environment. During the social entrepreneurship MBA course, Seo collaborated with SK Chemicals, which had links through the program, and launched eco-friendly leather bags. The bags used discarded leather that was recycled by grinding and reprocessing into a biomaterial called PO3G. It was the first case in which PO3G that is over 90% biodegradable was applied to regenerated leather. In other words, it can reduce environmental pollution in the processing and disposal stages, while also reducing carbon emissions and water usage by one-tenth compared to existing cowhide products. The social entrepreneurship MBA course, from which Moon and Seo graduated, will run in integration with the Graduate School of Green Growth as an Impact MBA program starting this year. KAIST plans to steadily foster entrepreneurs who will lead meaningful changes in the environment and society as well as economic values through innovative technologies and ideas. < Photo 3. NYU President Emeritus John Sexton (left), who received this year's honorary doctorate of science, poses with President Kwang Hyung Lee > Meanwhile, during this day’s commencement ceremony, KAIST also presented President Emeritus John Sexton of New York University with an honorary doctorate in science. He was recognized for laying the foundation for the cooperation between KAIST and New York University, such as promoting joint campuses. < Photo 4. At the commencement ceremony of KAIST held on the 17th, President Kwang Hyung Lee is encouraging the graduates with his commencement address. > President Kwang Hyung Lee emphasized in his commencement speech that, “if you can draw up the future and work hard toward your goal, the future can become a work of art that you create with your own hands,” and added, “Never stop on the journey toward your dreams, and do not give up even when you are met with failure. Failure happens to everyone, all the time. The important thing is to know 'why you failed', and to use those elements of failure as the driving force for the next try.”
KAIST confers Honorary Doctorate of Science on NYU President Emeritus John Edward Sexton
< Photo 1. NYU President Emeritus John Edward Sexton posing with KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee holding the Honorary Doctorate at the KAIST Commencement Ceremony > KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee) announced that it conferred an honorary doctorate of science degree on NYU President Emeritus John Edward Sexton at the Commencement Ceremony held on the 17th. An official from KAIST explained, "KAIST is conferring an honorary doctorate for President Sexton's longstanding leadership in higher education, and for his contributions to the process of establishing the groundwork for collaboration with NYU through which KAIST is to become a leading global value-creating university." President Emeritus Sexton served as the president of NYU from 2002 to 2015, establishing two degree-granting campuses and several global academic sites of NYU around the world. Because of its steady rise in university rankings, such as its medical school earning the number two position in the United States, not only has NYU joined the ranks of first-class universities, but it has also achieved remarkable growth, with the number of students increasing dramatically from 29,000 to 60,000. In addition, during his tenure as president at NYU, President Emeritus Sexton successfully expanded fundraising to support the University’s academic goals. During his 14-year tenure as president, he organized initiatives such as 'Raise $1 Million Every Day' and 'Call to Action' to raise $4.9 billion in donations, the largest in NYU history to date. President Emeritus Sexton is famous for teaching full time even during his presidential tenure and for the anecdotes about his special care for students, addressing the school members as “family”. In particular, he is famous for giving hugs to all graduates at the commencement ceremony. Minister Park Jin of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea, who graduated from NYU School of Law in 1999 with a Master of Studies in Law, is one of the graduates who received President Sexton's hug. President Emeritus Sexton, born in 1942, visited KAIST on the 17th to receive the honorary doctorate and to encourage the expedited development of the KAIST-NYU Joint Campus, for which he helped lay the foundation. President Emeritus Sexton said, "I like the slogan, 'Onward and upward together,'" and added, "I look forward to having the two universities achieve their shared vision of becoming the world-class universities together through cooperation to establish the KAIST-NYU Joint Campus." < Photo 2. NYU President Emeritus John Edward Sexton giving the acceptance speech at the KAIST Commencement Ceremony > The US Ambassador to Korea, the Honorable Philip Goldberg, also attended the commencement ceremony at KAIST to congratulate President Emeritus Sexton on the conferment of the honorary doctorate. Ambassador Goldberg has been serving as the US Ambassador to Korea since July of last year. President Kwang Hyung Lee said, “President Emeritus Sexton was a president best described as an innovator who promoted diversity in education and pursued academic excellence throughout his life.” He went on to say, “The KAIST-NYU Joint Campus, which will be completed on the foundation laid by President Emeritus Sexton, will serve as the focal point that will attract global talents flooding into New York by the driving force created from the synergy of the two universities as well as serving as a starting point for KAIST's outstanding talents to pursue their dreams toward the world.” KAIST signed a cooperation agreement with NYU in June of 2022 to build a joint campus, and held a presentation of signage for the KAIST-NYU Joint Campus in September. Currently, about 60 faculty members are planning to begin joint research initiatives in seven fields, including robotics, AI, brain sciences, and climate change. In addition, cooperation in the field of education, including student exchange, minors, double majors, and joint degrees, is under discussion.
Commencement Ceremony Honors the Class of 2022
Third online commencement ceremony since the pandemic outbreak celebrates 2741 graduates The 2022 commencement ceremony convened online on February 18 to celebrate and award degrees to the Class of 2022. The graduating class of 2022 included 663 PhDs, 1,383 Masters, and 695 Bachelors. The limited number of attendees included 86 graduate representatives and approximately 20 faculty members in senior leadership, as well as Korea’s Minister of Science and ICT Hyesook Lim. The ceremony was livestreamed on KAIST’s YouTube channel. Valedictorian Ji-Young Lee from the Department of Physics received the Minister of Science and ICT’s Award. Yu-Jin Bang from the School of Business and Technology Management was the Awardee of the Chairman of the KAIST Board of Trustees and the KAIST Presidential Awardee was Jong-Hwan Lee from the Department of Mathematical Sciences. KAIST conferred honorary doctorates to Honorary Chairman Jae-Chul Kim of Dongwon Group and Chairman Sung-Hwan Chang of Samsung Brush. Chairman Kim, whose donation funded the establishment of the Kim Jae-Chul Graduate School of AI, was awarded an honorary doctorate of science technology. Chairman Chang was awarded an honorary doctorate of business administration in recognition of his funding in the fields of medical science and engineering at KAIST. This year’s undergraduate commencement speaker was Hye-Lin Park from the School of Computing. She has severe cerebral palsy and was the first student admitted to KAIST with a severe physical handicap. “I loved mathematics and wanted to become a mathematician. When I learned programming in my second year, I was so mesmerized by it that I transferred to the School of Computing,” said Park, who plans to continue studying programming languages in graduate school at KAIST. “I spent my entire life of 24 years in this beautiful wheelchair. Without the support and help of my parents, friends, and my special teachers who helped me move and study at the campus, I would not have made it this far,” said Park. For easier access to classrooms and facilities, KAIST started to remodel its facilities to make the entrance of buildings more wheelchair-friendly. Park made many suggestions to the Office of Student Life and the Facilities Management Office on how to ease mobility for handicapped people on campus. The physical education course that was required for graduation was also revised to stipulate exceptions. Minister Lim stressed the role of young scientists and researchers in these times of digital transformation dominated by AI and the metaverse. She encouraged the graduates to carry out their dreams with warm hearts and challenging spirits. KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee also stressed the power of dreams, calling for graduates to dream big even in times of uncertainty. “Humanity stands at an inflection point in history. The fourth industrial revolution and outbreak of Covid-19 have unfolded the grand global transformation. Although the future gives us new opportunities, it also comes with anxiety regarding the uncertainties ahead.” “Dreams make your heart race and push us to live life to the fullest. Dreams will help you keep moving forward even in the face of adversity,” he said.
KAIST Celebrates 50-Year Anniversary with 2,712 New Graduates via 2021 Commencement Ceremony
KAIST is proud to announce the graduation of 2,712 students, including 668 PhDs and 1,331 master’s degree recipients. The pandemic could not stop the university from recognizing each graduate's remarkable and original achievements. A pandemic-proof blended commencement ceremony was held on Friday, February 19, and livestreamed to the graduates and their loved ones. KAIST decided to take extra precautions to protect graduates and other attendees’ health and well-being. For the virtual ceremony, only 83 out of the 2,712 graduates were invited to attend the ceremony in person. Graduates were divided into four groups to attend at four different places in Daejeon and Seoul campuses and watch the ceremony via Zoom. No family members or friends of the graduates were allowed to participate at the campus, but happily cheered the graduates via YouTube. This year’s valedictorian, Hyun-Young Park from the School of Electrical Engineering, received the Award of the Minister of Science and ICT. Salutorian Yeh-Lin Cho from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering received the Award of the KAIST Board of Trustees, while the recipient of the KAIST Presidential Award was Min-Jae Kim from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering. The Award of the KAIST Development Foundation Chairman and the KAIST Alumni Association Presidential Award were conferred to Kyung-Tae Kim from the Department of Physics and Min-Woo Jung from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, respectively. President Sung-Chul Shin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Woo Sik Kim, and a very limited number of faculty members and administrative staff officiated the commencement ceremony from the KAIST Auditorium. President Shin applauded the graduates’ hard work and dedication in his commencement speech. He also delivered a very special congratulatory message to the bachelor’s degree awardees. “This year’s commencement is especially meaningful for me. I was appointed as the 16th president of KAIST on February 23, 2017, and met you for the first time on February 28 at the matriculation ceremony. We promised each other—as freshmen and as the first alumnus president—to do our best for the next four years,” President Shin recalled. He added, “I have done my best to keep my promise, and now my term will end on February 22. Of course, the past four years were even more precious because you were all a part of it.” In conclusion, President Shin said, “I am proud of you for keeping your end of the promise. Thank you for becoming who you are today. I have high hopes for the bright future that you will be shaping for KAIST and our society.” The livestream ceremony is archived for viewing on KAIST's Official YouTube Channel. (END)
Virtual Commencement Ceremony Honors the Class of 2020
The KAIST community gathered online to celebrate the 2020 graduating class. The blended ceremony conferred their hard-earned degrees on August 28. The belated celebration, which was postponed from February 21 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, honored the 2846 graduates with live streaming on YouTube beginning at 2:00 pm. The graduates include 721 PhDs and 1399 master’s degree holders. The government raised its social distancing guidelines to level two out of three on August 23 as the second wave of the virus hit the nation. Level two guidelines prohibit the gathering of more than 50 persons indoors or 100 persons outdoors. For the virtual ceremony, the Office of Student Affairs and Policy announced a list of 67 graduates who signed up to participate in the graduation ceremony. Graduates were divided into three groups to attend at three different places and watch the ceremony via Zoom. No family and friends of the graduates were allowed to participate at the campus. This year’s valedictorian, Kon-Yong Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, received the Award of Minister of Science and Technology. Salutorian Hee-Kwang Roh from the Department of Chemistry received the Award of the KAIST Board of Trustees, while the recipient of the KAIST Presidential Award was Hong Jae-Min from the School of Computing. President Sung-Chul Shin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Woo-Sik Kim, former Minister of Science and Technology and former Provost at KAIST Dr. KunMo Chung, and a very limited number of faculty and staff members officiated the commencement ceremony from the KAIST auditorium. President Shin in his commencement speech applauded the graduates’ hard work and dedication and delivered a very special congratulatory message to them. He encouraged the new graduates to be courageous enough to deal with these new challenges as well as future uncertainties, during the greatest transformation brought about by COVID-19. “Instead of following behind others as a fast follower, we should take the initiative and walk down new paths as a first mover.” He also stressed, “We can transform this crisis into an opportunity by practicing the C3 values KAIST pursues: Challenging, Creating, and Caring.” As new alumni of Korea’s top science and technology university, he said, “Our graduates should focus on creating the world’s best, first, or only one in their research or their work.” However, he also pointed out the importance of a caring mind for others when working together. At the ceremony, KAIST conferred an honorary doctorate degree to Dr. Younghoon David Kim, CEO and Chairman of Daesung Group, in recognition of his lifetime dedication to making innovations in the energy industry. Daesung Group is a leading energy company in Korea which manufactures and supplies natural gas for industries and home users. Dr. Kim is committed to making efficient energy sources by advancing cutting-energy sciences and disruptive technologies. He has served as chairman of the World Energy Council since 2016. In his acceptance speech, Kim stressed the Grand Energy Transition as a new driving force in the future energy industry for maximizing energy efficiency. “Since energy is the most basic foundation for all industries, improvements in energy efficiency translate into benefits for all related industries in terms of its efficiency and productivity.” “The Grand Energy Transition is progressing widely and rapidly across the entire value chain of energy production, distribution, and consumption with decarbonization, decentralization, and digitalization serving as its driving force.” He went on, “We should regard energy efficiency not as the fifth fuel but the first primary fuel.” (END)
Soul-Searching & Odds-Defying Determination: A Commencement Story of Dr. Tae-Hyun Oh
(Dr. Tae-Hyun Oh, one of the 2736 graduates of the 2018) Each and every one of the 2,736 graduates has come a long way to the 2018 Commencement. Tae-Hyun Oh, who just started his new research career at MIT after completing his Ph.D. at KAIST, is no exception. Unlike the most KAIST freshmen straight out of the ingenious science academies of Korea, he is among the many who endured very challenging and turbulent adolescent years. Buffeted by family instability and struggling during his time at school, he saw himself trapped by seemingly impenetrable barriers. His mother, who hated to see his struggling, advised him to take a break to reflect on who he is and what he wanted to do. After dropping out of high school in his first year, ways to make money and support his family occupied his thoughts. He took on odd jobs from a car body shop to a gas station, but the real world was very tough and sometimes even cruel to the high school dropout. Bias and prejudice stigmatizing dropouts hurt him so much. He often overheard a parent who dropped by the body shop that he worked in saying, “If you do not study hard, you will end up like this guy.” Hearing such things terrified him and awoke his sense of purpose. So he decided to do something meaningful and be a better man than he was. “I didn’t like the person I was growing up to become. I needed to find myself and get away from the place I was growing up. It was my adventure and it was the best decision I ever made,” says Oh. After completing his high school diploma national certificate, he planned to apply to an engineering college. On his second try, he gained admission into the Department of Electrical Engineering at Kwang Woon University with a full scholarship. He was so thrilled for this opportunity and hoped he could do well at college. Signal processing and image processing became the interest of his research and he finished his undergraduate degree summa cum laude. Gaining confidence in his studies, he searched around graduate school department websites in Korea to select the path he was interested in. Among others, the Robotics and Computer Vision Lab of Professor In-So Kweon at the Department of Electrical Engineering at KAIST was attractive to him. Professor Kweon’s lab is globally renowned for robot vision technology. Their technologies were applied into HUBO, the KAIST-developed bimodal humanoid robot that won the 2015 DARPA Challenges. “I am so appreciate of Professor Kweon, who accepted and guided me,” he said. Under Professor Kweon’s advising, he could finish his Master’s and Ph.D. courses in seven years. The mathematical modeling on fundamental computer algorithms became his main research topic. While at KAIST, his academic research has blossomed. He won a total of 13 research prizes sponsored by corporations at home and abroad such as Kolon, Samsung, Hyundai Motors, and Qualcomm. In 2015, he won the Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship as the sole Korean among 13 Ph.D. candidates in the Asian region. With the MSRA fellowship, he could intern at the MS Research Beijing Office for half a year and then in Redmond, Washington in the US. “Professor Kweon’s lab filled me up with knowledge. Whenever I presented our team’s paper at an international conference, I was amazed by the strong interest shown by foreign experts, researchers, and professors. Their strong support and interest encouraged me a lot. I was fully charged with the belief that I could go abroad and explore more opportunities,” he said. Dr. Oh, who completed his dissertation last fall, now works at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT under Professor Wojciech Matusik. “I think the research environment at KAIST is on par with MIT. I have very rich resources for my studies and research at both schools, but at MIT the working culture is a little different and it remains a big challenge for me. I am still not familiar with collaborative work with colleagues from very diverse backgrounds and countries, and to persuade them and communicate with them is very tough. But I think I am getting better and better,” he said. Oh, who is an avid computer game player as well, said life seems to be a game. The level of the game will be upgraded to the next level after something is accomplished. He feels great joy when he is moving up and he believes such diverse experiences have helped him become a better person day by day. Once he identified what gave him a strong sense of purpose, he wasn’t stressed out by his studies any more. He was so excited to be able to follow his passion and is ready for the next challenge.
President Lee Myung-bak's Congratulatory Address at 2009 KAIST Commencement Ceremony
Following is the full text of President Lee Myung-bak"s congratulatory address at the 2009 KAIST Commencement Ceremony. Beloved graduates, proud parents, dear family members, Mr. Cho Jeong-nam, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr. Suh Nam-pyo, President of KAIST, Esteemed faculty and staff members, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, It is great to see you all. First of all, I must begin by extending my most sincere congratulations to the 1,976 graduates who are receiving their degrees today. You worked hard, you earned it and I congratulate you. We must also remember your parents who worked just as hard as you did, if not more, to support you. You may have family members whom you wish to thank for their support and understanding. I also thank and congratulate the faculty and staff members who worked hard to provide the best possible education for you. Today is also a great day since we can all join together to recognize the achievements of Dr. Ryu Geun-chul and show him how deeply we respect and appreciate his generous contributions to KAIST. Today, Dr. Ryu received an honorary doctorate in science for his life-long contributions in the field of Korean traditional medicine. He has also donated a vast portion of his personal wealth to KAIST for educating future leaders in science and technology. Dear graduates, faculty members, KAIST has been in the forefront of leading Korea’s development over the last thirty-eight years. As the preeminent institution devoted to educating the very best minds in science and technology, more than 20% of all doctorate degree holders in Korea’s science and engineering field are KAIST alumnus. KAIST has led the drive to create more than 470 venture start-ups, opening up a vast new horizon for Korea’s scientific and technological breakthrough while leading the economic growth of Korea. KAIST has done exceptionally well even compared to the world’s best. It is ranked 34th in engineering and IT. It is ranked 46th in natural sciences. These rankings are a demonstration that KAIST is a research-focused institution with global competitiveness. Moreover, KAIST has been an example for other higher institutions seeking to reform the way colleges and universities operate. KAIST has demonstrated its forward-looking and reform-minded vision in terms of selecting students, recruiting and evaluating professors and managing its courses. In particular, when KAIST selects its students, it doesn’t look only at their test scores but looks for creative and innovative minds with real character and potential. Such practices are having positive influences on how other universities and colleges select their students. Furthermore, KAIST has taken the lead in applying their research skills to matters of global concern through its EEWS initiative. I am proud of such visionary work and will continue to have high hopes for KAIST. Our promising future depends on gifted individuals and gifted individuals are nurtured through solid education. For a country such as Korea with no natural resources, human capital is our greatest and most precious resource. We must overcome our lack of natural resources with our abundant and limitless brain power. The 21st century will be a knowledge-based society and so national competitiveness of individual countries will be determined by how competitive its universities and research institutes are. And the time calls for universities with world-class capabilities in research. Especially, our investments in science and technology today will ensure a brighter tomorrow. I assure you that this government will spare no effort to KAIST so that it can continue to foster the best minds for even greater achievements. My dear graduates and professors, proud parents and family members, All of us are going through difficult times due to the global economic crisis. At the same time, we must face global climate change which is our common concern. And this global concern must not be put aside or given less priority because of the economic crisis. We must do all we can to overcome the economic crisis while aggressively and consistently implementing measures to deal with climate change. At the same time, we must continue our quest to develop the next-generation engines of growth in preparation for the future when this economic crisis is eventually over. This is killing three birds with one stone and this is the core of my Low Carbon/Green Growth vision for Korea’s future. For a country like Korea with no oil reserves whatsoever, Low Carbon/Green Growth is a must. We simply do not have any other choice. It is also the path that the global community must take. Korea was late in joining the club of industrialized countries but we are ahead in the information technology sector. But, because we did not possess the core technologies in information and communication, we were unable to fully benefit from being ahead. Now, we must excel in all areas in the age of green growth. Korea’s future growth will depend on how many core technologies we manage to accrue in green technology, such as technologies to conserve energy, development of new and renewable energy. The government will double, compared to last year, its investments into research and development of green technology. The government has a long-term vision and this vision calls for continuously increasing strategic investments into the new engines of growth and they include basic sciences, core technologies and big science. Deregulation will continue so that we can foster scientific and technological advancements and also attract more investments and people from abroad. Dear graduates, Another source of our new engine of growth and our green technology is none other than fusion technology. Our bio, IT and nano technology will come together, and coupled with what is already a world-class IT industry, we can create future engines of growth. President Suh Nam-pyo stressed that “Inter-disciplinary study that takes place amidst the boundaries of different disciplines is where new discoveries and added-value are found.” This is a reminder of the importance of fusion research. And we all know that KAIST is the leader in this endeavor. Fusion technology will greatly improve our quality of life and introduce new and innovative ways to solve our real concerns. Healthcare and medical science are just two examples. As our society becomes an aged society, identifying the causes of and finding the cure for degenerative diseases such as Pakinson’s and dementia are becoming more and more important. If we manage to successfully combine our knowledge in medicine, science and engineering, we can come up with revolutionary ways to detect and cure these and other diseases. In particular, we will soon see science and medicine come together to create an entirely new paradigm in how we take care of our health. Medicinal research and high-tech research hospitals will be the norm. I truly believe that we can save both this planet as well as ourselves by utilizing green technologies and high-tech fusion technology. The government will continue to support such efforts. Dear graduates, the heroes of today, Some of you may wish to pursue higher degrees in order to reach even loftier academic goals. Some of you may opt to venture into society. Wherever you go and whatever you decide to do, do not be afraid of failure. Pursue your dreams. Face the challenges that come your way. And when you boldly face these challenges with the most precious gift you have, your youth and ideals, your dream will come true. Remember that history is made by those who take up the challenge. Do not be discouraged if you fail today. Just pick yourselves up tomorrow and try again. And again. Do not be consumed by selfish ambitions. But instead, always think what you can do for your society, your country and for humankind. Science and technology that is used for personal gains or new innovations and technologies lacking even the very basic ethical standards can become a curse to mankind. This is why those aspiring to become scientists and engineers must first agonize over how they plan to better the lives of man before they learn how to conduct experiments. Once you’ve gone through this, you will then be eligible to become true leaders, with your character and technological know-how. Remember the time you spent hunched over a book, in the classroom, in the library or in laboratories. Do not forget why you came here in the first place. Aim for higher goals in your respective fields. With that, I wish you a wondrous and exciting new journey. Again, congratulations and well done! Thank you.
President Suh to Receive Honorary Doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University of the United States has decided to present an honorary doctorate degree to KAIST President Nam-Pyo Suh, school authorities said on April 30. President Suh will receive the honorary degree during the university"s 111th commencement ceremony at its Pittsburgh campus on May 18. Suh earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon in 1964. Carnegie Mellon University said in a press release that Suh is honored for transforming KAIST into a world-class institution since he became president of KAIST in 2006. "His distinguished academic career has also included posts at the University of South Carolina and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as an assistant directorship for the National Science Foundation of the United States. Beyond his academic leadership, Suh invented an industrial process for production of plastic parts that is used in factories worldwide. He holds more than 50 patents and helped start several companies," the press release said. Five other prominent Americans will also receive honorary doctorate degrees from Carnegie Mellon along with President Suh. They are Al Gore, former U.S. vice president; Norman R. Augustine, former president and CEO of Martin-Marietta and Lockheed Martin and chairman of the American Red Cross; Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, the world"s largest online retailer; Elizabeth Catlett, an artist and sculptor famed for her dedication to the rights of minorities and women; and Patrick Colonel Suppes, a professor emeritus at Stanford University. Carnegie Mellon, a leading research university of the United States is known for its distinctive mix of programs in engineering, computer science, robotics, business, public policy, fine arts and the humanities.
2008 Commencement Ceremony Held
The 2008 KAIST Commencement Ceremony was held on Feb. 29 at the KAIST Amphitheater in the presence of KAIST President Nam Pyo Suh, U.S. Ambassador to Korea Alexander Vershbow, alumni representatives and parents. Other dignitaries on hand included National Assemblymen Sang-Kee Suh, Chang-Sun Hong and Sang-Min Lee; and Daejoen City Major Sung-Hyo Park. President Suh and Vice President Soon-Heung Chang presented degrees to each of the 1,321 graduates (200 doctors, 725 masters and 396 bachelors) instead of just to representatives. Since its inception in 1971, KAIST has produced 7,067 Ph.D. graduates, 18,636 master"s degree holders and 8,998 bachelor"s degree holders. This year, 40 percent of the Ph.D. graduates, 79, were in their twenties upon graduation. President Suh called on the graduates to return the favor they received from society by making their share of contributions to humanity. "You were chosen to be students of this unique university because the Korean people -- not only KAIST professors and staff, but also ordinary taxpayers -- believe that outstanding young people like you can change the world in which we live for the better. Now it is time for you to pay back their support," he said. Notable graduates of this year include So-Yeon Yi, 29, the first Korean female astronaut candidate, who earned her doctorate degree in bio and brain engineering. She was granted a special award in recognition of her role in advancing space science in Korea but she could not attend the graduation ceremony due to her training schedule in Russia which will continue until April. Eun-Gyu Oh, 26, was the youngest doctorate recipient in the ceremony and Won Hye-jeong, 21, recorded the top undergraduate GPA with a score of 4.20 over 4.3. Civil and environmental engineering major Seung-Hee Park, 28, published a total of eight papers in major international journals while attending KAIST and two more papers are currently under review. So-Yeon Yi said: ``I frequently stayed up all night to research and write the paper. It was tough experience for me. Thanks to ceaseless support from professors and colleagues, however, I was able to complete the task,"" she said. ``I have done my best in studying, exercising and so on. I"m sure that my active, participatory attitude brought about this honorable moment."" She is now training at Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow as a replacement astronaut in case Koh San, 31, who is to be the first Korean astronaut, is unable to go into orbit. Koh and Yi were selected from more than 36,000 applicants last year. Koh was finally picked as the primary candidate last September. The two are serving as space ambassadors appointed by the Ministry of Science & Technology.
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