Many universities including Seoul tech are changing their roles by strengthening the links between industry and academia, breaking away from their traditionally isolated positions.
Seoul National University of Science and Technology (Seoul Tech) has been leading these new changes. Lee Dong-hoon, president of Seoul Tech, is an industry-academic cooperation expert who has held posts related to educational-industrial cooperation for about a decade.
Lee, who took the office last November, served as the university’s vice president of research, was a member of the industry-academic cooperation committee and served as the head of the Leaders Industry-University Cooperation (LINC), a project of colleges and universities here funded by the government to facilitate practical training for students.
He said cultivating the optimal human resources necessary for industry through education is the direction in which universities should go.
“The goal of Seoul Tech is ‘strengthening research capabilities,'” Lee said during an interview with The Korea Times.
“In order to become the country’s hub in the area of university education, we need to foster core research fields with world-class competitiveness and strengthen basic research capabilities.”
As a part of the efforts, the school is attracting a large number of excellent post-doctorate researchers with creativity and excellence tailored to its character which is centered on science and technology.
Seoul Tech selects young researchers, including foreigners within five years of obtaining a Ph.D., gives them positions as visiting professors in charge of research, and provides not only a fixed salary of 40 million won ($33,850) per year but also labor costs for participating in research projects.
“We expect a breakthrough in research performance and industry-academic cooperation through this recruitment of post-doctorate researchers. We are planning to hire about 20 people this year and increase the number by 50 in the future,” Lee said,
In addition, full scholarships will be provided to full-time graduate students to expand research capabilities. He said the university would like to encourage the young generation, who are reluctant to enter graduate schools, to pursue higher education to concentrate on their studies and research activities.
Lee is also pushing to increase the summer vacation period to three months from the current two to produce the skills demanded by the industry in a timely manner. Using the extended summer vacation, students will be able to access various long-term internships here and abroad and participate in exchange student programs with overseas universities. The new system will be applied to freshmen from next year.
Starting in 2021, the university will establish a department of Artificial Intelligence Applications that will integrate AI into all majors.
“This is not just to train AI majors through academics, but to produce AI convergence experts who can be used practically in industry. Students in the AI department must double major in other studies besides AI.”
Preparing for Fourth Industrial Revolution
“As we enter the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there are many voices calling for changes in university education. The government is also concentrating on helping the country become an AI powerhouse, with actions such as announcing a national AI strategy for government agencies at the end of last year. In this process, the role of universities in nurturing talented students is very important,” he said.
In line with this situation, Seoul Tech will establish the new AI department to foster human resources that can integrate artificial intelligence into engineering, humanities, arts and design. It plans to cultivate talented graduates who can play an active role by integrating artificial intelligence in each specialized field through engineering education, the strength of the university and close connection with industries.
“As the word application is included in the name of the department, students in the department of Artificial Intelligence Application will not just major in artificial intelligence, but will inevitably double major in existing studies. After their graduation, we will support them to act as AI experts in the fields in which they want to land a job,” Lee said
The university already established Makers College in 2017, an entrepreneurship program providing all students the opportunity to earn a degree or dual degree in entrepreneurship. Students can not only earn a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship but also acquire practical business knowledge involving the respective procedures by participating in various programs.
In order to produce competitive students that are preferred by companies, the university plans to strengthen and diversify graduation requirements. Generally, if undergraduate students want to get a degree, they have to submit a thesis or graduation work along with graduation credits. In addition to this, the university has a unique system so that graduation is only possible when other requirements, such as training, a double major degree and experience as overseas exchange students are met.
“This is our willingness to become a university with strict graduation criteria to produce competitive human resources favored by leading companies,” Lee said.
the article is originally published at korea times.