S Leaders Step in U.S.
S Leaders Step in U.S.
  • Kee Seung Eunhye
  • 승인 2009.03.04 09:19
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Last winter vacation, there was a ‘2009 Sookmyung Global Project’ which allowed students to experience exciting world with ambition managed by The Sookmyung Women’s University (SMU).  It was a golden opportunity to spend student’s winter meaningfully by participating in a digitalized, knowledge managed and culture oriented program.

As a one of the groups’ member, the group for visiting North America, I visited San Francisco and Los Angeles infrom January 6 to 18.  Under the title of ‘2009 Sookmyung Global Project,’ 13 students were chosen to do project in thewith subject, 'S Leadership.'  To make a leader who has 4S (Spirit, Skill, Strength, and Service) was our group motto.  Our group has 5 sub teams and each separated with different subject with different S.  Among them, I want to introduce two impressive interviews and visiting for Sookmyungians.  

Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) in California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

The team that I was in, picked up the subject, ‘Technology of the 21st century, Technology that leads the global innovation’ because our team think thatis one of the global leaders to lead the global market in advanced technology.  To know more about technology in, we chose to visit Caltech, especially OTT which fits very well with our team’s subject.

OTT is the office to promote and facilitate the transfer of useful technologies to the commercial sector so that public can directly benefit from the ingenuity and creativity of their outstanding researchers.  Providing access to new and improved devices, drugs, services, etc, all contribute to improving the quality of people’s lives.  OTT strives to find the most efficient ways to take a concept developed by their inventors and turn it into a product useful in everyday life.  This office founded in 1995 and works to effectively commercialize technology developed at Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).  Specially, OTT assists the faculty with intellectual property, evaluates inventions, manages the Caltech/JPL patent portfolio, negotiates technology licenses and assists entrepreneurs with the creation of startups. 

One very sunny day, we met one of the directors of OTT, Karina L. Edmonds and ask some questions to know more about OTT.

SMU: I know that OTT has helped in the foundation of over 80 starts-up companies, right?  If so, what is the most successful company?  Also what kind of product they invented?

EDMONDS : We have a lot of successful company.  Clearly, DNA Sequencer is very successful. We also have GPS (Global Positioning System); it is the software that does very precise location.  It is being used for navigation.  Actually, it was invented by Air Force but there are some software made by us really precise.  Liquid metal is one of that formed with us which do a lot of casing cell phones, now.  It is usually doing casing for object.  On average, I think 25 percent are failed, 25 percent are gone public, and last 50 percent go along out of 80 companies.  However, it is successful compared to other universities.   

SMU: Other universities also have office of technology transfer?


EDMONDS : MIT have tech transfer office which is much bigger than we are, because school is much bigger than we are.  Their tech transfer office is much longer than we have.  Stanford also started the office 50s or 60s.  We are relatively new but we’ve been catch out very quickly.  We’re top 3 of issue patent in theand second to the UC system.  We are aggressive on intellectual property. 

SMU: You said all professors participate in OTT.  If so, Humanities’ professors do some creative job around here, too?

EDMONDS : Actually, Economic professors build models and software which is interesting.  They can be used for financial system in Wall Street.  

SMU: Do you have any special program to enhance students’ creative thinking?

EDMONDS : This year is the first year that we start entrepreneur club which is very active and they do great.  We have activities together.  And we do Tech review every two or three month, which present latest technology.  This year is the first year of ‘Lemelson Price’ which is award students of undergraduate or graduate for the inventiveness.  In this year 12 Africans won and they got 3,000$.   


Science, Technology, and Society (STS) inStanfordUniversity (Stanford)

There was other team which picked up the subject about ‘Special Program.’  The team did pre-researching about SMU and find out 4 problems that our university has:

1. Pragmatic education for employment

: But it is not helpful as well for employment as for studying

2. Few chances to know about new studies

: It makes students into “Babies in the wood.”

3. Lack of lectures that correspond to the 21st century.

: There are old-fashioned lectures that have treated almost 20th century’s theories.

4. Lack of conversation between professor and student.

: Student’s demands are disappeared in developing process.

During the interview with Professor Robert McGinn who made the special program, STS first in Stanford, I could know how different that Stanford is compared with SMU.  First, pragmatic education is helpful for employment and non-pragmatic studies are also popular in Stanford.  Second, there are so many chances to meet new studies which are hot.  Third, professor studies hard and teaches hot issue and theories.  In last, professor opens their office as much as they can to interact with students.  They think it’s related to their dignity.  It was really surprised for me and I envied Stanford students. 

STS is special program offers students integrated studies of the natures and relationship of science, technology, and engineering, and of the social relations of science and technology.  STS provides an arena for dialogue among students of engineering, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences-a common ground where important cross-disciplinary studies transcending the gaps between the technical and non-technical fields are not merely envisioned, but practiced.   

When we visited Professor Robert McGinn’s office, he welcomed us and after listening to brief presentation about our project, compared our school system with Stanford’s and introduce about STS more deeply than we know.

SMU: We have Problem Based Learning (PBL) lecture which professor throw one problem and make student solve the problem.

MCGINN: We also have similar form of lecture, which called Problem Solving Skill (PSS).  This kind of lecture is related to STS because brining things together is important in STS to make the whole solution of problem.  It’s analogy.  For example, there is an orchestra.  You have a violin player who is very good at violin.  You have somebody playing drums.  You have somebody playing trumpet.  In that case, you need a conductor to bring them all together.  So, they can make good sound.  Similarly, supposed that you build a house.  You can have a carpenter.  You can have a plumber.  You can have an architect.  But you need somebody who brings all together at the right time put those skills together, make them work together.  Analogy means STS students learn how to be conductor in Orchestra not just doing one little skill.  This is the point. 

SMU: Manywomen don’t like sports even though it is necessary to be healthier.

MCGINN: Oh, really?  I think it is related to change of cultural attitude.  As time goes along, cultural attitude is going to change.  For example, you already said many Korean women don’t like sports.  As more people get jobs, they are sitting in front of laptops and do all day typing in IT era.  It’s not good for your health.  You need physical exercise to make up all day long sitting in your seat.  It’s a lot different when most people have their job in agriculture.  They did a lot of physical activities those days.  But now, people need to stress out and need to be active.  So I think that cultural attitude is going to change because of the technology.  And that’s classic STS program.  There is a class, ‘Influence of technology on Women,’ which related to this issue. 

SMU: We wonder what has made the the most powerful nation of advanced technology and how does the education system in theaffect upbringing of future leaders in technology.

MCGINN: Have you been heard about entrepreneur?  It means person who start a business based in zero.  In Stanford, we have several courses that teach students how to startup their own new business.  Here, students taught how to startup business in terms of financial side, legal side, how to choosing employees, how to organize company and etc.  So Google, it started from 2 graduate students and now they have 25000 people.  That’s the classic example of entrepreneur.  One of the biggest trends ofAmericanUniversity is ‘Entrepreneur Education.’     

Through the interview with Karina L. Edmonds and Robert McGinn and visiting Caltech and Stanford University in U.S., I learned lots of things which I never known in Korea.  This time, I knew I’m ‘Babies in the wood,’ and it was really great time to broaden my eyes.  The opportunity is still waiting for you.  Next vacation, how about try for ‘2009 Sookmyung Global Project’ and become a heroin of it? 

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