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Top Tech School to Export Expertise to UAE

Posted January. 06, 2010 02:58,   


The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, or KAIST, announced yesterday plans to export its know-how and system of science education and R&D to the United Arab Emirates.

The Mideast country last month signed a contract for 40 billion U.S. dollars to import four nuclear power plants from Korea.

KAIST President Suh Nam-pyo (photo) will visit Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research in Abu Dhabi next Wednesday to discuss cooperation measures to export the his school’s educational know-how.

KAIST is known to have pledged educational support as a condition of the nuclear plant contract.

Established by the UAE in 2007, Khalifa has a limited number of departments including those for computer science, electronics, software engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, and biomedicine.

KAIST will send professors to the UAE university for giving lectures and developing curricula and lecture materials. The Korean school will also set up research infrastructure, conduct joint studies, and exchange scholars.

On the understanding that the educational support goes along with Korea’s export of the nuclear power plants, KAIST will first help Khalifa establish a nuclear engineering department. The second step is to provide support in more diverse sectors such as information technology, nanotechnology, robotics, and energy.

“After providing support in the nuclear sector, KAIST will start helping other sectors. The cooperation program between the two universities will continue for 10 years. Both sides will review their overall performance every five years,” KAIST Vice President Jang Sun-heung said.

KAIST nuclear and quantum engineering professor Jeong Yong-hun said, “Our educational support for Khalifa will help it become a prestigious science-driven university comparable to KAIST in 10 years. This can be considered a kind of success story export related to nurturing excellent scientists.”

In the QS World University Rankings announced by The Times of London and university rating agency QS last year, KAIST ranked 21st in engineering.

Korean educational experts say KAIST’s educational support for Khalifa will be a good strategic model to encourage export cooperation among Korean universities and industries.

An official from the Knowledge Economy Ministry in Seoul said, “When discussing how to export nuclear power plants, the UAE asked the Korean government to recommend a partner to help it learn lessons from Korea’s dramatic growth.”

The UAE hopes to take advantage of KAIST’s educational support as a chance to introduce the Korean educational system to nurture talent.

“Since the UAE understands that its oil-driven economy will face challenges due to declining oil reserves, it is focusing on nurturing excellent scientists,” a KAIST source said. “I heard that the UAE preferred Korea over other competitors for the nuclear power plant project because KAIST promised educational support.”

mhjee@donga.com achim@donga.com