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 March 2005 Interview
Chang Wook Kang, Ph.D., is professor, Department of Information and Industrial Engineering, Hanyang University, Ansan Campus in South Korea. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering in 1981 from Hanyang University. He obtained his second bachelor’s degree in statistics in 1984 and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in 1988 and 1990, respectively, from the University of Minnesota, USA. He has taught statistics and quality management at the department of Information and Industrial Engineering at the Ansan Campus since 1991.

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Creating a Standards Curriculum in the Republic of Korea

Within the past year, several universities and the Korean government have embarked on a remarkable cooperative effort to introduce standardization into Korean undergraduate engineering curricula. Chang Wook Kang, the statistics and quality management professor at Hanyang University, Ansan Campus, who helped spearhead the program, spoke with SN about developing the courses and the Korean Standards Association’s invaluable assistance in coordination and funding.

Since its founding in 1939, Hanyang University has been committed to academic and professional excellence. The university’s Ansan Campus (pictured above), with its seven colleges, was opened in March 1979 and is located in the central part of Korea’s west coast. Despite its short history, the Ansan campus has successfully implemented various campus development strategies and currently plays a vital role as a model of education reform such as the Education-Research-Industry Cluster Campus and Industry-University Cooperative Campus, respectively, for other higher learning institutions in Korea.

How did the standards education initiative begin at Hanyang University’s Ansan Campus?

I had been working with the Korean Standards Association and their Six Sigma education team to begin teaching Six Sigma to my students. Around this time I attended the Second Networking Conference on Industrial Standards Activities Promotion in Korea and became fascinated by the impact of standards on engineering. When I was visiting the United States in February 2004, I met with Donald Purcell and Dr. William Kelly of Catholic University to benchmark the standardization education courses that had been held at Catholic. This was on behalf of the Korean Standards Association, and through the assistance of Teresa Cendrowska, director of external relations at ASTM International, whom I’d met at the conference.

From my conversation with Mr. Purcell and Dr. Kelly, I understood more fully that standards education is necessary for engineering students. Since standards are very important to the enhancement of technology, engineers need to study standards from the design stage to the certification stage. “Commanding an international standard commands the world” and “The level of a nation’s compliance to standards is a barometer of its competitiveness” are well-known axioms about the importance of standards.

In March, back at the college where I teach, the Ansan Campus of Hanyang University, I explained to my dean, Hyo Nam Cho, that I felt that standards education could be very beneficial to our engineering students and he agreed. At the chairs’ meeting of the College of Engineering Sciences, I suggested creating a standardization course as an elective for engineering students for the second [September] semester of 2004, and it was agreed to unanimously.

What was the role of the Korean Standards Association in encouraging this program?

As soon as the development of the class was approved at my college, I discussed it with KSA staff, particularly Director Young Gil Yoo and Researcher Danbee Kim, and obtained financial support from KSA to run the course. This included support for honorariums for speakers from industry, for free distribution of the textbook to students, and for field trips. KSA also offered other services, such as providing speakers for the classes who were experts in standards and their use.

In addition, KSA suggested the idea for the course to other universities, and nine others joined to develop the course at their campuses for the second 2004 semester. With one of the universities offering it at its two campuses, this made 11 classes in total that were taught across Korea in the first semester.

KSA also organized a committee consisting of the professors who volunteered to teach the standardization class at their universities; the committee was chaired by Chang Hyeng Park, the director of the industrial standards and quality division at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. The committee discussed what we needed to teach and how we should manage this course.

What textbook did the universities use?

The committee of professors teaching the course decided that one textbook should be offered to all students taking the course. The Korean government, through KSA, decided to financially support the writing and distribution of the book so that students would not have to pay for it. The writing of the textbook by 11 contributing authors took about four months and the book was ready for the first session of the class in September. Many standards experts have commented that the book is well-written and comprehensive,
although, of course, there’s always room for improvement.

Since its inception, has this initiative been incorporated by universities other than the original 10 who first participated?

For the first semester of 2005, 40 universities will now provide a standardization education program.

What has been the student participation in and reaction to the class at your campus?

The class is offered to junior and senior engineering students at Ansan Campus (although some universities have opened it for all majors). Seventy-nine students enrolled for my class in its first semester from the information and industrial, mechanical, computer, metallurgy and materials, electronic and electrical, and chemical engineering programs. Of course, mine was just one class out of the 11 that were being taught at the same time around Korea.

My students said that they found the class useful and that they’ve recommended it to other students. I’m very glad that the class was judged a success this way by the students. I like to help my students to achieve their personal goals. I expect them to learn not only the fundamentals within their majors, but also the practical knowledge industries demand such as Six Sigma, project management, the use of standards, and so on. Helping our students understand the role of standards will be a critical factor for technology development and national competitiveness.//

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