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Korean Students Learn MEMS Technology, Experience Life in America in Popular Global Education Program

August 28, 2015

MEMES Korean Students Article

Beneficial Program: “It’s a very rich program,” says Seoul Tech Professor Wonjong Joo about the partnership with Rose-Hulman to educate 27 students on MEMS each summer. The program is annually voted the best summer educational experience for Seoul Tech students. (Photo by Bryan Cantwell)

It only took a few seconds for visiting students from South Korea to identify the most valuable and rewarding part of this summer’s month-long nanotechnology education program: the opportunity to receive hands-on laboratory experiences in micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS).

“Oh, the MEMS Lab has been great,” says Lee Hyeon Woo, a senior chemical engineering student. “We’re so happy to be here and learning so much.”

Mechanical engineering major Wan Gyu Choi adds, “The natural science classes here have helped expand my knowledge of nanomaterials. This will help all of us in the future as we continue our education and prepare for our careers.”

For the sixth straight summer, students from South Korea’s Seoul National University of Science and Technology (Seoul Tech) traveled to Rose-Hulman to expand their knowledge of MEMS, the English language, and experience American lifestyles and culture. The program contributes to the educational partnership between two schools with shared interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This year’s group includes 27 students.

On weekdays, the students attended two hours in an Introduction to MEMS course, led by Physics and Optical Engineering Professor Michael McInerney, who organizes the program. Weekdays also included an hour applying MEMS principles in Rose-Hulman’s Micro-Nano Device and Systems (MiNDS) Laboratory, led by Associate Dean of Faculty Azad Siahmakoun and Richard Liptak, assistant professor of physics and optical engineering, and two hours of English language study.

Weekends afforded opportunities for spending time with local families, shopping,  sightseeing trips to Chicago and St. Louis, and visiting a Midwest amusement park.

Joining in these adventures have been nine Rose-Hulman students who have served as program mentors, and reaped fond memories from their interactions with the visiting Korean students. A talent show on one day of the program had students and officials from both institutions sharing fun-filled experiences.

MEMES Korean Students Phone

Summer Experiences: Students from South Korea’s Seoul Tech spent a month this summer at Rose-Hulman learning about MEMS technology and life in America through a partnership between the two global STEM educational leaders. (Photo by Bryan Cantwell)

“Our program has been consistently voted the best summer educational experience for Seoul Tech students, and there’s a waiting list for qualified candidates,” says McInerney. “The students enjoy coming here, and we enjoy having them here.”

Seoul Tech Professor Wonjong Joo, who facilitates the program in South Korea, says students benefit from their MEMS experiences—helpful in their academic majors—from one of America’s top colleges and universities, while receiving hands-on experience in state-of-the-art technology. He states that this exposure to technology gives the South Korean students advantages in the job market. 

“It’s a very rich program,” Joo says.

The summer MEMS program has been so successful that Seoul Tech and Rose-Hulman have created a dual-degree master’s program in mechanical systems design engineering (from Seoul Tech) or optical engineering (Rose-Hulman). Participating students spend time studying at both institutions.

Rose-Hulman graduate student CJ Stein is currently pursuing the dual master’s degree, and used the opportunity to serve as a mentor for the MEMS summer program to develop friendships with Seoul Tech students.

“I couldn’t imagine traveling thousands of miles from home, overcoming language difficulties, making new friends, and learning new things,” Stein says. “I can’t wait until the roles will be turned when I go to Seoul Tech.”