This is part of the KAIST Terman Report.

Survey Report
on the Establishment of the
Korea Advanced Institute of Science

Donald L. Benedict
KunMo Chung
Franklin A. Long
Thomas L. Martin
Frederick E. Terman, Chairman

Prepared for
US Agency for International Development
December 1970

Chapter 2

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science

A new institution, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science (KAIS), has recently been established by the Korean government to produce for Korean industry a supply of engineers and applied scientists who combine high ability with advanced training oriented towards the technological needs of modern industry.


KAIS was originally proposed in various models in 1968 and 1969 [6]; the basic law for KAIS was unanimously passed on July 16, 1970, and promulgated on August 7, 1970. KAIS is to be a purpose-oriented independent institution that will provide the training required to enable qualified scientists and engineers to make vital contributions to the Korean economy on a continuing basis. In addition, KAIS will serve as a nucleus for Korean scientific and technological activities, and as a model and a resource for other graduate schools in Korea.

The basic law for KAIS, a draft of the associated Presidential Enforcement Decree, and proposed Articles for KAIS, are reproduced in translation in Appendix A. These documents together with associated planning papers, contain many inprecedented provisions for a Korean higher educationsal institution. For example: (1) KAIS will not come under the existing rigid education laws and public employee acts which regulate overly strictly the present graduate schools; (2) the Korean government will provide stable support for KAIST by making available endowment funds in addition to appropriations; (3) KAIS will be empowered to recruit and support faculty members on attractive terms so that many well-qualified Korean scientsts and engineers abroad can be brought home; (4) students at KAIS will receive financial support, be provided with dormitory facilities, and receive special treatment with respect to military service; (5) KAIS will be run by an independent self-perpetuating board of trustees which, except for certain approvals, will have total responsibility for KAIS; and (6) KAIS is authorized to confer Doctor of Science (ScD), Engineer, and Master of Science (MS) degrees as presribed by its own regulations.

General Plan of KAIS

The educational plan for KAIS contemplates a two-year MS program with an enrollment of 200 students, [7] together with more advanced programs (Engineer and doctoral) enrolling approximately 200 additional students.

The Master's degree program is designed to provide a superior educational experience emphasizing those fields of engineering and applied science that are of particular importance to Korean industry. The purpose is to bridge the gap existing between the background of BS students trained by Korean universities in engineering and science, and the knowlege required to deal effectively with the problems in engineering and applied science with which Korea industry will be concerned in the years ahead.

This knowledge gap exists to some degree in every industral nation. Thus, in the USA the MS degree is increasingly regarded as a prerequisite for truly professional work in engineering, and approximately one-third of those graduating with a BS in engineering in the USA carry their studies to the MS level. In Korea, the gap is particularly serious in view of the theoretical character of Korea undergraduate training in science and engineering, and the lack of attention given in present university curricula to industrial applications of technical and scientific principles. Moreover, the present Korean educational system fails to provide for this need.

Korean industry can advantageously use a gradually increasing number of individuals who have training in depth in those areas of technology and applied science that are important in industry, and who have the background required to assimilate advanced techniques and theories and to apply them in useful ways in Korean industry. These individuals must be able to adapt the world's science and technology to Korean processes, methods and materials, to create distinctive designs and products for Korean markets, both domestic and foreign, and to make Korean products fully competitive in international trade in both quality and cost.

A distinctive feature of KAIST will be extensive interactions with the technological activities of Korean industry. In particular, it is anticipated that KAIST professors will maintain close contact with industrial activities. The purpose of these relations is to insure that both the faculty and students of KAIST are knowledgeable regarding the real world of engineering, and can interpret their learning accordingly. These matters are discussed further in Chapter 4.

The MS program represents the principal means by which KAIS will carry out the above objectives. The survey Team considers this a sound approach, and strongly recommends that KAIST place primary emphasis on the MS degree at the beginning.

The ScD degree at KAIST requires a minimum of three years of study beyond the MS degree, and includes the submission of an acceptable dissertation based on original research and the passing of appropriate examinations. The primary objective of this program will be to satisfy the needs of Korean industry and Korean research establishments for highly trained and innovative specialists, rather than to add to the world's store of basic knowledge. The ScD program would accordingly reflect this objective both in its character and its size. Since the present needs for such specialists is limited, the Survey Team strongly advises that the ScD program start slowly and be allowed to build up only as the demand for such specialists grows. At the same time, it recommends that a small number of ScD candidates be enrolled in KAIST from the outset. This will give KAIST experience with its ScD program, and will also test the magnitude of Korea's need for very highly trained specialists in engineering and applied science.

The proposed Engineer degree requires one year or possibly two of course work beyond the MS degree. It is designed for those students who hold a Master's degree and desire still more training, but do not want to work for the ScD degree with its emphasis on reserach and specialization in depth. The engineer degree aims to provide an exceptionally high level of general competence in advanced technology, and will give the student a broader education than a doctoral degree. The Survey Team sees a useful role for such a program, bur recommends that plans for implementing the Engineer degree be deferred until the MS and ScD programs are firmly estbalished operations of high quality.

At the end of the initial build-up period, KAIS should have a regular resident faculty numbering about 50 individuals distributed appropriately between senior and junior faculty grades. To provide a faculty of "critical mass" in each major subject, and also to insure a reasonable enrollment in each course, it is anticipated that the operation described will not offer MS degree programs in more than five of the highest priority fields of engineering and applied science.

Present plans contemplate that KAIST will be located near several other establishments having related objectives, notably KIST, the new Korea Defense Research Institute (a consolidation of several existing laboratories), and the Korea Scientific and Technological Information Center (KORSTIC) [8]. The location chosen is the grounds of the Forest Experiment Station, an attractive parklike area in excess of 0.75 sq. km. on the east edge of Seoul where KIST is already located. The group of institutions planned for this area would form a "Science Park" whose different components would interact and reinforce each other intellectually and create a congenial scholarly and professional atmosphere. The mutual proximity would also provide many opportunities to share equipment, facilities and ideas.

Fig. 2-1. Model of proposed plan for the Science Park. (1) KAIS academic buildings, (2) Housing for KAIS faculty, (3) Housing for KAIS students, (4) KIST, (5) Korea Defense Research Institute, (6)Central Library and KID.

An artist's model of the proposed plan of the Science Park is shown in Fig. 2-1.

An important feature of the plan for KAIS is the provision for attractive apartments for faculty members, located in the same "park." These apartments would be similar to those recently constructed for housing the staff at KIST. This arrangement would provide a social and intellectual comunity of scientists and engineers that has many desirable features.

Equally important is the plan to provide dormitories for student housing. Students with related insterests living together in this way learn a great deal from each other, thereby reinforcing what they learn from their professors. The value of the educational experience at KAIST will thereby be greatly amplified.

KAIST itself will be housed in facilities especially designed for its use. From the beginning KAIST will be unusually well equipped with modern laboratory instruments useful for instruction at advanced levels, and also for faculty-student research purposes. Because of the clearly defined and rather unique mission of KAIS, these laboratories will be far superior to anything available among Korean educational institutions, and thus will provide exeptional opportunities for effective learning, teaching and research on the part of both faculty and students.

Given the above circumstances, KAIST should have no difficulty attracting a faculty of the highest quality, including expatriate Koreans.

Likewise, KAIST should be exceptionally attractive to students in view of the financial support, dormitory housing, and the special treatment with respect to military service. These privileges, combined with a faculty of the highest quality, and facilities comparable with the best abroad and unequalled in Korea, should make KAIST appeal to ambitious and able Korean students, including those who would otherwise want to go abroad.

Funding of KAIS

The cost of the KAIS plant, and also the operating expenses of KAIS, are to be provided primarily by the Korean government. In view of the relavitely high interest rates in Korea, it is anticipated that a substantial part or possibly all of the operating expenses will be carried by interest income from an endowment provided by the government. A sum of 550 million won, (equivalent to $1.8 million U.S.) is included in the budget for 1971 that has been submitted to the Korean National Assembly; this is to cover initial operating expnese and to provide a partial building grant.

As discussed further in this chapter, it is expected that Korean industrial firms will wish to send selected empolyees to KAIS as students, and will be prepared to support these students and perhaps pay KAIS a tuition fee toward the cost of their education. Industrial firms might also provide some income to KAIST through: (1) the sponsorship of general fellowships for the support of students in specified fields; (2) support for faculty salaries or research activities in particular fields; and (3) arrangement by which KAIS would provide services (computer, consulting, etc.) to industrial concerns. However, the primary source of support would be government funding.

To establish a sound initial base, KAIS wil require foreign aid in its first years. This is discussed in detail in Chapter 5, and would take such forms as: a) assistance in training initial faculty as necessary to meet the special requirements of KAIS; b) help in setting up laboratories and establishing new courses, and in recruiting faculty members; c) providing appropriate laboratory equipment; d) help with the establishment of a library; e) special items required for the KAIS building which are not available in Korea. The need for such outside assistance exists primarily in the initial few years; thereafter no foreign aid should be required to sustain the operation.

Feasibility of KAIS

The concept of KAIST is bold and imaginative. However, one might well ask the question "Is the plan realistic?" A partial answer to this question lies in the fact that all of the individual features incorporated in the plan for KAIST have been thoroughly tested at one place or another in the world and have been found to be entirely practical. The uniqueness of KAIST is in the combination of elements that has been chosen, and in the direct way in which this combination relates to Korean needs and the Korea background.

The success of KAIST will accordingly depend almost entirely upon the effectiveness with which the general plan is implemented. Particularly critical is the quality of the leadership of the new institution in its initial years, the understanding which this leadership possesses of the goals of KAIS, and its belief in these goals. A second essential requirement is that the faculty be of the very highest quality, with experience and personal interests compatible with the industry-oriented goals of KAIS. Almost as important is the effectiveness with which student recruiting and selection is carried out. The most certain way for KAIST to establish its position as an important component of the growing edge of Korea is to have a faculty that is recognized as truly outstanding, and which offers uniquely valuable training to a clearly superior group of students.

Faculty and students must, of course, be backed up by proper physical facilities, and by operating funds that are both adequate and stable.

Even though the prospects of success are all favorable, much work must be done to implement the plan and establish KAIS as a going institution with its first students. A high proportion of this work will be of a pioneering character insofar as the Korean setting is concerned. Further, this effort must be distributed over a reasonable time span, because there are many things that must be carried out in sequence. It would be a mistake to attempt to accomplish everything at once. Thus, the initial focus should be on the MS degree with a limited number of entering students, concentraed in only a few high priority fields. Again, an ScD program should best be allowed to build up slowly. Likewise, plans for establishing programs of continuing education, and degree programs for part-time students had best be deferred until the MS program for resident students is well established.

Adequacy of Supply of Sudents Available to KAIS

It is appropriate to consider whether there are enough qualified students to support an institution the size of KAIS. In 1969 all Korean institutions together awarede 4,863 BS degrees in science plus engineering; it is estimated that approximately two-thirds of these were in some field of engineering. Given the generally high level of intelligence of the Korean population, the great value which Koreans place on education, and the high standards of many of the Korean institutions of higher education, it is clear that there are many hundreds of graduates each year who would be highly satisfactory students for KAIS.

Korean industry is a second source of students for KAIS. It is anticipated that once KAIS is established and has demonstrated the usefulness of the training it offers, Korean industrial firms will in many cases desire to sponsor very promising young empolyees as students at KAIS in order to increase the future usefulness of these individuals to the company.

Finally, through its superb facilities, strong faculty, generous student support, and special treatment in connection with military service, KAIS should attract many young Koreans who now go abroad for graduate study an dbecome part of the "brain drain".

When these factors are added together, it is clear that the size planned for KAIS is quite modest in relationship to the potential supply of well qualified students likely to be interested in studying at KAIS.

Ability of Korean Job Market to Absorb KAIS Graduates

A further matter deserving consideration is whether or not Korean industry is in a position to absorb the number of MS degree students that KAIS will produce. In reviewing this matter, it is to be noted that KAIS will probably not be ready to enroll students until 1973, that it will take at least three years to work up to an entering class of 100, and that the MS probram is two years in length. Thus, it will be about 1978 before KAIS will be producing 100 MS degrees per year. While this might be too large a number to add suddenly to the Korean industrial system in 1971, since it will take Korean industry a few years to learn how to make the most effective use of KAIS graduates, it is inconceivable that there will not be a brisk demand for 100 such individuals per year by 1978 unless the Korean economy collapses, or unless KAIS fails miserably in provding the kind of training proposed.

With regard to ScD students, the first will also come on the emplyment market around 1978, and then only in very small numbers. It is believed that by this time the Korean economy, including such special institutions as KIST, will need an indigenous source of men with ScD training that is relevant to the country's economy. Thereafter, KAIS would be justified in producing a slowly increasing number of ScD's.

Justification of KAIS as an Independent Institution

KAIS is being planned as a separate institution, not formally affiliated with a university or other academic insstitution. There are compelling reasons for this action. It permits a new start on graduate education in science and tehcnology in the current Korean atmosphere of fragmentation of fields of study and small numbers of graduate students per program. Independence also permits the development of a new and appropriate organizational structure for graduate training in science and technology, free of the limitations, restrictions and practices which presently hamper existing Korean universities. It likewise enables a new start to be made in the criteria governing the selection of faculty and in the procedures for the selection of students. Finally, relations with industry should be very much easier to develop in the context of a single institution oriented towards science and technology. The recognition of these advantages is not unique to Korea; thus in the U.S. context, they have in the past led to the found of, for example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the California Institute of Technology, and similar institution with a particular orientation toward technology.

A separate institution does at the same time have disadvantages. These show up in possible difficulties of arranging interdisciplinary graduate programs which might involve sociologists, psychologists, or medical scholars working in cooperation with engineers or applied scientists. Other disadvantages are the non-availability of non-technical subjects, and the absence of stimulation from classmates with different interests and philosophies. These is also the ever-present danger that KAIS will lost its commitment to high scholarship and become a trade school instead of a great institute of technology. KAIS should therefore be aware of the disadvantages of being independent, and should make a special effort to maintain close and continuing association with universities and other institutions that have a broad spectrum of interests in higher education.

In the special situtation that exists in Korea, the Survey Team feels that an independent KAIS is not only justified, but actually represents the only way that a graduate institution for applied science and technology oriented towards the needs of the Korean economy can be developed with the required rapidity. An attempt to accomplish an equivalent result either through a consortium of universities, or by reconstituting the science and engineering activities of a single existing institution, would enocunter numerous difficulties, not the least of which would be the time and the pain required to effect the drastic changes required in staff qualifications and in education practices. The present universities operate under laws and traditions designed to serve objectives quite different from those of KAIS. Again, the present tenured faculties in science and engineering at Korean universities were selected and developed to serve purposes entirely unlike those of KAIS, and so with a very limited number of notable exceptions, are incompatible with a KAIS type of operation. For such reasons, the situtation calls for fresh start that involves a new pattern of graduate education, a pattern specifically oriented to serve the neds of Korea's developing industry without delay and without compromises.