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Ten years of study on pulsed power, from a student to a teacher

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A Conversation with Alumni

Ten years of study on pulsed power, from a student to a teacher

Jang Seong-rok (graduated from the UST-KERI campus in 2011, majoring in Energy and Power Conversion Engineering, and currently a senior researcher at KERI and full-time teacher on the UST-KERI campus)

There are three people who always gather every morning in the laboratory at Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) research center 7, even if they do not promise to do so: Jang Seong-rok, a professor of energy and power conversion engineering who was the first to graduate from the UST-KERI campus, and his students Bae Jeong-soo and Kim Shin. After listening to what each student says about an experiment they carried out and the problems they encountered, Jang proposes the direction. It is rewarding to see that the students are excited when the problems have been solved by applying the method that he proposes. As a UST-KERI graduate and students, as well as a teacher and his students, their relationship is more special. They are closer to each other than other teachers and students.

“Maybe it’s just me, but I think we are very close,” says Jang. “Bae and Kim are hard-working and caring students. I try to make them feel at ease as they are attending the same school I graduated from and are my students.”

국제학회 수상, “이젠 펄스파워 유망주”의 사진1In the lab with students

The first UST graduate to become a professor teaching about pulsed power

Prof. Jang entered UST in 2008. The first time he met his supervisor after having received a UST admission notice was on a train. Professor Ryu Hong-je suggested that Jang accompany him to a conference held in Seoul. Professor Ryu explained the answers to the questions that he couldn’t answer in an interview one by one, writing in his notebook. While doing a course under the guidance of Prof. Ryu, what Jang always bore in mind is that a researcher should have an active, self-directed and premeditated mindset toward research. He still thinks over its meaning and tries to pass it on to his students.

국제학회 수상, “이젠 펄스파워 유망주”의 사진10 As Prof. Ryu’s first student, I could grow with his attention and under his guidance,” he said. “So, I feel responsibility for the students who believed in me and entered UST-KERI. As I received so much from the school when I was a student, I am teaching students thinking that I should give more than I received.

국제학회 수상, “이젠 펄스파워 유망주”의 사진1Won a ministerial award for merit in the 2017 National R&D Performance Evaluation

His teaching finally bore fruit. Bae Jeong-soo received a young researcher award in the 2018 7th Europe-Asia Pulsed Power Conference. For Prof. Jang, it was more meaningful because he won the same prize in 2010. Moreover, when the “active group control of industrial high-voltage pulsed power and high-density designing technology development” that he was in charge of for three years was chosen as a 2018 national R&D 100 best performance, he felt the most rewarded.

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I appreciated that the technology we put a lot of effort into developing was highly evaluated,” he said. “I was also extremely grateful to Dr. Kim Hyeong-seok, Yoo Chan-hoon and the UST students who worked late and tried to solve problems.

Researchers have a feeling of excitement and happiness at the moment when they have solved a problem with students, after grappling with the problem with a supervisor, and trying to find out the solution with colleagues. It is often a driving force to be able to put greater efforts into research.

Technology and people ? the two most precious gifts from UST

국제학회 수상, “이젠 펄스파워 유망주”의 사진8

“The greatest assets I have in working on the UST-KERI campus are technology and people. I had the opportunity to study and continue to develop pulsed power technology that is not easily accessible in Korea, and I could meet good people to study together here,” he said.

국제학회 수상, “이젠 펄스파워 유망주”의 사진9

Prof. Jang recalls his past, saying that he was lucky. Because it is great luck that he could carry out research on the single subject of high-voltage pulsed power and develop the relevant technology for 10 years, sometimes as a student and sometimes as a researcher. He is now studying with a 72-year-old Russian researcher, Gusev Gennadii. Although he has studied pulsed power for nearly 50 years, Gennadii is sometimes faced with problems he has not experienced before. He always works on research, enjoying the process of solving these problems. Most researchers say it is difficult when a problem is not solved, but Gennadii says it is interesting. Prof. Jang learns a lot from his habit of saying “interesting” when he encounters something unknown, even after five decades of research.

“Despite differences in nationality, he treats me warmly, like a son, and teaches me a lot,” he said. “I want to study with him until I retire and pass on what I have learned from him to students. I’m also trying to enjoy it whenever I face a difficult problem.”

국제학회 수상, “이젠 펄스파워 유망주”의 사진1UST graduation ceremony

“I want to be a researcher with a sense of responsibility, and to enjoy research”

High-voltage pulsed power Jang has been working on for 10 years is currently a promising technology that is required in various industries such as defense, environment and materials, but due to inadequate technical skills, much of it is imported. In order to localize high-voltage special power technology and to secure the world’s best technical skills, Prof. Jang struggles every day at the KERI. He wishes to contribute to the country by completing the technology.

Those who live with a learning attitude do not stay where they are, but constantly develop and grow into a better person. Prof. Jang was a good UST student, and is now a good teacher at his own school. On a chilly day in early winter, recalling his warm smile, we also hope that the seeds of learning that he has sowed will spread and take root.

지질연 캠퍼스 학생에서 연구원으로 제2막 시작의 사진5지질연 캠퍼스 학생에서 연구원으로 제2막 시작의 사진6지질연 캠퍼스 학생에서 연구원으로 제2막 시작의 사진7