Mission and Origins
Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology is facing with the increasing importance of and demand for highly qualified scientists and engineers to support Korea’s industrialization, following the implementation of economic development plans since 1962. It is the now first research-oriented science and technology graduate school in Korea.
Its mission is as follows:
- Education and training of highly qualified scientists and engineers equipped with theoretical
and practical expertise.
- Participation in mid- to long-term government research projects and basic and applied research for
the accumulation of Korea’s competitiveness in science and technology.
- Provision of research platforms to other research institutes and enterprises.
KAIST Vision and Innovation
1. KAIST Vision
KAIST Five-Year Development Plan
President Suh laid out the KAIST Development Plan in 2006. He met trustees, high-ranking officials, professors, and graduates to listen to a variety of opinions. Surveys were conducted to more accurately identify issues at KAIST. President Suh then created new strategies using his axiomatic design approach and set up clear goals and detailed action plans. His development plan was reported to the Board of Trustees on Aug. 31, 2006 and was immediately shared with the faculty through the Professors’ Conference. He held a meeting with students on Oct. 13, 2006, and by mid-December, he attended development strategy meeting with department heads, and staff workshops to discuss his “KAIST Development Five-Year Plan.” This plan was finalized on Feb. 5, 2007 by the KAIST Steering Committee after comprehensive discussion.
The goal is for KAIST to rank within the top-10 universities of the world by 2011. To achieve this goal will require KAIST to:
▲ Employ excellent staff, reform personnel management and education systems,
and update infrastructure.
▲ Promote basic and technically innovative research and provide intensive
researchers in core fields.
▲ Establish a department-centered management system and secure financial stability.
▲ Create an atmosphere of close internal cooperation and enhance external collaboration.
2. KAIST after Five Years
Increased Number of Full-Time Faculty Members
President Suh established the goal to increase the number of tenure-track faculty from 463 at present to 700 by 2010 so that the student-professor ratio at the school will be lowered from 9.8:1 to 6:1.
KAIST hired 76 new professors between 2006 and 2008, including 12 professors from overseas. Professor Mary Kathryn Thompson joined KAIST in 2007 as an assistant professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering. She is the first international female, full-time professor at KAIST.
Higher Undergraduate Enrollment Ceiling
KAIST initiated a plan to increase undergraduate enrollment by 100 per year until 2010. This will increase the total number of enrolled undergraduate students to 4,000, including 1,000 foreign students, by 2013. The increase in undergraduate enrollment will also increase graduate student enrollment. KAIST admitted 860 students, including 50 international students, to undergraduate programs in 2008.
Improved Tenure System
Under President Suh’s initiative, KAIST altered regulations regarding tenure so that all professors will be examined for tenure status within eight years from their appointment, instead of “at least seven years after appointment as a full professor” as previously practiced. Professors who fail to attain tenure status will not have their contracts renewed. This new system is needed to secure and retain outstanding professors. With tenure, professors can focus on teaching and research until their retirement age of 65.
Distinguished Professor System
KAIST introduced a “Distinguished Professor System” to appoint professors who produce excellent research as Distinguished Professors and to offer them substantial benefits including an extension of the mandatory retirement age. The system is expected to stimulate professors’ research activities.
Choong-Ki Kim of Electrical Engineering and Electronics Department, Sang-Yup Lee of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, and Kee-Joo Chang of the Physics Department were firstly appointed as Distinguished Professors in 2007. Two more professors, Ryong Ryoo of Chemistry Department, and Kyu-Young Whang of Computer Science Department joined the list in 2008.
All Courses Conducted in English
President Suh has stipulated that all freshmen courses be delivered in English to enhance students’ global competitiveness and provide improved education to international students. All undergraduate courses at KAIST will be delivered in English by 2010. KAIST has amended the curriculum and opened an English Clinic to pave the way for more effective English-language courses.
Emphasis on Design and Synthesis Education
“Design and synthesis education” is being strengthened for students who excel in analysis but need to improve their synthesizing skills. Design and synthesis courses were provided as elective courses, starting in the fall of 2007 and became mandatory in 2008.
KAIST adopted dual-degree programs (DDP) to offer students diverse educational opportunities and to facilitate academic exchanges with renowned overseas universities. DDP refers to an academic program in which students satisfying the graduation requirements of the two schools involved in the DDP can receive degrees from both schools.
In March 2007, KAIST entered into a DDP agreement with the Technical University of Berlin in Germany and with Carnegie Mellon University of the United States to exchange up to five students for each school annually. In 2008, KAIST signed a DDP agreement with the Technical University of München. KAIST is also negotiating with several renowned universities, including Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT), to launch similar programs.
Modified Tuition Policy
KAIST has modified tuition regulations so that students with poor GPAs will be required to pay tuition partly or entirely as an exception of the University’s tuition-free education. The change was made in an effort to promote a stronger sense of responsibility and independence among students.
As a result, KAIST is charging full tuition, amounting to about 15 million won per year, for students with GPAs below 2.0 and partial tuition for students with GPAs in the range of 2.0-2.99, while awarding full scholarships for students with GPAs of 3.0 or higher. The new tuition policy was introduced in 2007; hence, tuitions calculated on the basis of 2007 performances were charged for second-year students in the spring of 2008. In the first semester of 2007, 12.5 percent of the freshmen received GPAs below 2.0; 36 percent had GPAs below 3.0. They were charged tuition fees according to the GPA level stipulated by this new regulation.
Intensive Support for Core Researches
President Suh has encouraged research in basic, influential and technically innovative fields. Seven KAIST Institutes (KIs) have been founded to intensively support researches in core fields of global competitiveness. KIs are expected to play key roles in raising the global recognition of KAIST by producing excellent research through concentrated efforts in selected interdisciplinary areas. The KIs are: BioCentury; Information Technology Convergence; Design of Complex Systems; Entertainment Engineering; NanoCentury; Eco-Energy; Urban Space and Systems; and Optical Science and Technology. A building with a floor space of approximately 13,200 square meters will be constructed to house KAIST Institutes at a cost of 20 billion won. Staff researchers in the fields of biology, IT, and design fields will be hired.
Autonomous and Responsible Management of Departments
President Suh has encouraged a greater autonomous management of departments. Under the new system, department chairs lay out their own development strategies with authority over personnel and budget appropriations. They are given specific incentives according to their business plans. Each department has formed an External Advisory Committee (EAC) with top experts in corresponding fields to establish the necessary channels for policy advice and fund-raising.
President’s Advisory Council
President Suh appointed industrial and academic leaders from around the world to the President’s Advisory Council (PAC) to seek their expert opinions on research and education.
The PAC includes 10 overseas members: Neil Pappalardo, Chairman of MEDITECH; Hock Tan, Chairman of Avago Technology Inc.; Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, President of Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and former President of Tokyo University; John Holzrichter, President of the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation; Chong-Moon Lee, Chairman of AmBex Inc.; Byiung-Jun Park, CEO of Bureau Veritas CPS; Moshe Shpitalni, Dean of Graduate School, Technion Israel Institute of Technology; Gunnar H. Sohlenius, Member of Swedish Royal Institute of Technology; Donald C.W. Kim, former chairman of Amkor A&E of Hawaii; and Papken Der Torossian, CEO of Vistec Semiconductor Systems.
Fifteen domestic PAC members are: Keh-Sik Min, Vice-Chairman of Hyundai Heavy Industries; Hee-Gook Lee, President of LG Electronics; Young-Chul Hong, Chairman of KISWIRE; Hee-Beom Lee, Chairman of Korea International Trade Association (KITA); Dong-Jin Kim, Vice-Chairman of Hyundai Motors; and Young-Sik Myung, President of GS CALTEX, Bo-Young Kang, Chairman of Andong Medical Group; Oh-Kab Kwon, former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Myung-Ja Kim, Chairperson of IT Thinknet and former Minister of Environment; Woo-Sik Kim, former Deputy Prime Minister-Minister of MOST, Jin-Hyun Kim, former Minister of MOST and current Chairman of the World Peace Forum; Keun-Chul Lyu, Professor of Bauman Moscow State Technical University; Min-Joo Lee, Chairman of C&M Co. Ltd.; and Yoon-Woo Lee, Vice-Chairman of Samsung Electronics.
In three meetings since its formation, KAIST PAC considered KAIST’s Development Plan and its members offered valuable opinions for the University’s future development. Next full meeting is scheduled for this autumn.
President Suh has set a goal of 1 trillion won in donations to KAIST to be raised by 2013 for various academic advancement programs. The KAIST Board of Trustees has approved working expenses of 12 billion won as part of the 35 billion won needed to construct the KI Building, a sports complex, and an international center. Efforts are now focused on obtaining a 100 billion won loan for the construction of infrastructure facilities. KAIST received a gift of US$ 10 million from Byiung-Jun Park of the Bureau Veritas CPS of the United States and US$ 2.5 million from Neil Pappalardo, Chairman-CEO of Meditech Inc. of the U.S., in 2007. In 2008, Keun-Chul Lyu, an Oriental medical scientist, donated property valued at 57.8 billion (appr. US$ 50 million), the largest amount any Korean university has ever received from a single donor, and Donald C.W. Kim, chairman of AMKOR A&E, Inc., donated 1.3 billion won. KAIST is looking for many different sources for funds to be invested in selected areas.
Admission Policy Reform
KAIST amended the admission policy to put more emphasis on integrity, character, creativity and leadership. As a result, KAIST will give preference to:
▲ Students who have a strong sense of dedication and achievement, rather than students
with just higher GPAs.
▲ Students with creativity, sociability, a volunteering spirit, and good oral and written
▲ Students with a high potential for success in their specific fields of interest.
Prospective students applying in 2009 will be put through an in-depth admissions interview to assess leadership potential and individual personalities.
KAIST Honorary Doctorates
KAIST awarded its first honorary doctorates to four people who have significantly contributed to the development of the University in 2007. The awardees were: Moon-Soul Chung, founder and former President of Mirae Industry; Chong-Moon Lee, Chairman of AmBex Inc.; Neil Pappalardo, Chairman of Meditech, and Byung-Jun Park, CEO of Bureau Veritas CPS. In 2008, two women leaders, Geun-Hye Park, who once served as the head of the Grand National Party, and Gil-Ya Lee, Chairperson of the Gachon Gil Foundation, a major medical services organization, were also awarded honorary doctorates.
Establishment of KOASAS and Cooperation with Local Communities
President Suh established an open access paper archive, known as “the KAIST Online Access Self-Archiving System (KOASAS),” to share outstanding research at KAIST with the public. KAIST signed a cooperation agreement with the Daejeon City Government to foster cooperation with the local community and has invited civic leaders to discuss how to make the best use of KAIST education and research facilities for the citizens of Daejeon.
Strengthening of Humanity and Leadership Education
KAIST introduced a leadership certificate program to foster humanity and leadership building for students. A variety of cultural courses, known collectively as “Culture Activities (CAs),” have been established to stimulate students’ interest in diverse fields outside their majors. Most of the courses are coordinated by students. The “Reading Mileage Program” has been implemented to help students attain knowledge required for global leaders of the 21st century.
Introduction of ERP
President Suh introduced the Enterprise Resource Program (ERP) to seek optimal use of university resources and upgrade university management via standardization and integration.
EEWS R&D and Training Project
Research and development are being carried out to train qualified individuals and solve global problems in four important areas: energy, environment, water and sustainability (EEWS). This project will build an international EEWS network of academia and industry around KAIST.
High Risk, High Return Projects
KAIST has instituted high risk, high return (HRHR) research-support programs to encourage creativity and innovation in research activities. Professors and graduate students can apply for HRHR funding anytime they have creative ideas that they believe deserve support by the university's HRHR program. Although the program has been in existence for only a short time, the results are encouraging. Research projects currently underway under the program include "transforming ice to icy fuel and ice-like magnets," "mini-lunar lander mission," "mobile floating harbor for increased container handling capacity" and "marine oil spill protection robot design," to name a few.
(The contents of the above article may be quoted with or without attribution to KAIST.)