Future of ‘Kyung Hee Engineering’ Shaped by ‘Self-Motivated Doers’

2018-03-07 Academic

Using the Future Science Cluster as its main vehicle, ‘Kyung Hee Engineering (KHE)’ is experimenting with diverse ways to embrace the eventualities of Industry 4.0. Followed by last year’s creation of the Department of Software Convergence (DSC), this year, the College of Software Convergence has been established. By building a new school that combines computer engineering and software convergence, this College promises to usher in a new future for KHE. In the last installment of this report, we examined the challenges and achievements of the DSC, learning about convergence majors and minors. Now, we meet the students enrolled in the DSC.

As soon as the door opens to the ‘Infinite Imagination Sphere’ of the Open Lab, located on the first floor of the College of Electronics and Information (CEI) building, a familiar tune is heard. That jingle was coming from an old game machine. Huddled before the twenty-some year old machine were Chae-young Park, Min-ha Joo, and Seung-won Hwang (Software Convergence, ’17). The identity of the familiar tune was the background jingle to ‘Super Mario Bros.,’ the world’s best-selling game series.

The Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System), the retro home gaming machine widely seen in the ‘90s, was purchased by Min-ha Joo for game development. What is more intriguing is to find that students were studying and playing with a gaming machine that was made popular years before they were even born. During my interview, they shared their freshman year stories in the DSC’s first program year.

Pleased with Term Projects and self-directed capability development programs
Q: What motivated you to apply to the Software Convergence Department (DSC)?
Seung-won Hwang (Hwang): I thought it would be fun. So, I applied. I was also eligible for a scholarship.
Chae-young Park (Park): Having encountered AlphaGo, and with growing interest in AI, I knew I wanted to study in that area. When I saw that the DSC had a data science track, I decided to apply.

Min-ha Joo (Joo): I applied thinking that I could focus on an area I had been dreaming about for a long time: computer games. The DSC was not about teaching software only; I was especially enticed by the fact the department marries software with other areas of study to help produce a clear deliverable.

Q: What did you find most satisfying after joining the department?
Hwang: What I find most satisfying is that most of my classmates are self-motivated. The faculty and students are both passionate, so there is an amazing level of synergistic effect.

Joo: Professors are nice, and I like the required lectures. For instance, Software Convergence Theory and Python (programming language) teach the core basics; then, we actually get to program for our Term Project. Without predefined standards or framework, there is freedom, and it reinforces our determination to do our best. Students are able to let their desires play out to the maximum. Because we are self-motivated, it is fun and we learn a great deal along the way.

>Park: I agree. Term Project allows us to select our own topic. As a result, I had to decide what I wanted to do. Determined to do a good job, I needed to research a lot of data through the internet and books. By designing my own study, I learned a lot more than I expected.

Goal is to become a track expert, not a computer expert
Q: It looks like the DSC emphasizes autonomy. What are your thoughts on convergence education?
Joo: In a nutshell, the DSC provides an opportunity to bring together a wide variety of disciplines, based on software knowledge. When this process is defined into specific areas, it lends itself to tracks. In our department, the goal is to become a track expert, not a computer expert. After studying software, your next question is not ‘what do I do now?’ but ‘should I try developing a translation machine? Then I better study AI and linguistics.’ In other words, you are adding a sense of direction to your professional knowledge of software.

One professor has used the word ‘nomadic’ to describe our program. If you take a look at the curriculum design for each track, you will get a good sense of what kind of convergence we are targeting. For example, in the Data Science Track, in addition to technical components such as data center programming, we must also learn industrial management such as statistics and management science. The same is true for the Game Contents Track. Besides 3D modeling and coding, students must also invest in story-telling, game studies, sound design, VR/AR, so that when the market demands new components, our graduates are prepared to continue developing creative gaming software.

Future Automobile & Robot Track also teaches not only the core components, such as electrical and electronic circuitry, physics and programming, but also automotive robot design, automatic control, and video processing. In this way, students are exposed to convergence education that allows design and development of both hardware and software. Of course we can always create new tracks, too; hence, we are nomads. No student stays within the boundary of the Electronics and Information College (CEI).

DSC students have adopted the ‘student-teacher’ program to learn programs designed for web and game development. These are instructional contents that are not yet taught in the school programs, or have not made it into the formal school curriculum. If there is a student who possesses advanced skills in these areas, such talented student will be invited as an instructor. It is the passion inherent in these individuals that enables the greater future of KHE.

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