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Seeking Human-centered Science and Technology
The agency has shifted its organizational management focus from quantitative to qualitative growth
Seeking Human-centered Science and Technology
  • By matthew
  • July 30, 2012, 15:00
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Kang Dae-im, president of the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS), stresses that the time has arrived for science and technology to fulfill their social responsibilities. He dubbed it the R&D for responsibility. As chairman of the International Measurement Confederation (IMECO), he also has been making thorough preparations for the week-long IMECO World Congress to be held in Korea on September 9, and be attended by measurement device manufacturers and suppliers at home and overseas. He was pleased to have an interview with BusinessKorea to share information about the agency and his views on science and technology. Following are excerpts from the interview.

Q: First of all, please introduce our readers to the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science.

A: The KRISS was set up based on Clause 2, Article 127 of the Constitution, which reads, “The nation establishes its own national standards system.” Since founded on the Constitution, the institute’s goal is crystal-clear, that is, to establish and distribute measurement standards and conduct related advanced studies to help enhance national competitiveness and raise the living standards of the people.

Our agency provides approximately 200 national measurement standards regarding time, length, weight, temperature, luminous intensity, and electricity, etc., to not only the general public but also industrial workers and researchers. Furthermore, KRISS has the national standard clock, the margin of error of which is just one second every three million years. It is thanks to this standard clock that all of us can use our cell phones without any communication problems.

With the development of scientific and industrial techniques continuing, the accuracy of measurement is getting higher, leading us to further refine the accuracy of our gauging standards. We are currently working on two clocks at the same time, one with a margin of error of just one second per 30 million years and another every 300 million billion years.

Q: What is KRISS doing to come up with world-class research outcomes, dominate international standards and secure original technologies?

A: World-leading research outcomes can be acquired through dedicated studies on fundamental technologies and I believe that a creative research environment guaranteeing a second chance to all is essential for that. This is why we are making aggressive investments in projects without precedents. Because such undertakings are the same as moving into uncharted territory, the chances of success are inevitably slim. However, the ripple effect can be truly gigantic if just one or two of such attempts are successful. We are planning to increase the percentage of such projects to 10% or so of our total research undertakings.

As head of the agency, I always care about the morale of my employees. That is how I devised the preferential treatment system for research personnel. In my institute, qualified research fellows can get special treatment so that they do not have to be bothered by anything but their research. The chance to become one of them is given to young and newly-hired scientists.

For our non-research staff, we are running KRISS Master. We all know that scientific and technological research cannot be done by a single person but rather requires the support of a lot of people. KRISS Master recognizes the efforts of those who assist experiments, produce and maintain research equipment, etc. We give them the title of master to elevate their pride and help bring out the best in them.

Q: Please introduce KRISS’ management philosophy and future strategy.

A: I have been quite interested in “warm science and technology” since last year. Actually, scientific techniques have been more about intellectual curiosity or business model creation. However, I think that the time has arrived for science and technology to fulfill their social responsibilities beyond the conventional raison d´être. So I personally dubbed the concept R&D for Responsibility.

I am convinced that KRISS can become a global leading research institute that is trusted by the public by giving concrete shape to the concept. We have shifted our organizational management focus from quantitative to qualitative growth, while striving to further enrich our open-ended convergence and cooperation networks. Furthermore, we have been fully committed to the development of technologies for the benefit of the socially vulnerable, thus taking the lead in the creation of a caring society.

One of the most important missions of KRISS is to offer excellent research results to the advantage of the industry, particularly small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs). Tell our readers what type of industrial support activities KRISS is engaged in.

Firstly, we launched the SME Cooperation Center to that end. The office provides technical assistance to help companies increase their industrial competitiveness and deal with roadblocks and obstacles they run into during the course of daily business.

Secondly, I would like to mention Technology Home Doctor that was started back in 2008.

The program is especially for small-scale enterprises that are having trouble due to a lack of skilled personnel or technical expertise. Well-versed and experienced KRISS engineers visit the firms themselves to impart their knowledge and know-how. At present, 50 researchers are covering 50 firms on a one-on-one coaching basis, offering support in such fields as solar power generation, semiconductor, electrical component manufacturing and measuring instrument production.

Thirdly, we are running BEST, Begin Essential Solution for your Technology, which is a blanket business support program. Specifically, we furnish SMEs with customized, tailored services by making use of our measurement technological know-how and systems. We interview top management and working-level employees of SMEs to provide them with the consulting and advice they need.

Finally, we are lending our ears to the industry through the KRISS Measurement Club program. The program acts as a forum for sharing the latest information and keeping up to date with industrial trends.

Q: What are the major R&D tasks of KRISS this year?

A: They include: the establishment of a time measurement standard for national key industries; advancement of calibration and gauging capabilities; development of climate change measurement technology for the international standardization of greenhouse gas equipment performance evaluation; and development of nerve simulation devices and cognitive systems for human-machine interface.

KRISS is scheduled to chair the IMEKO, or International Measurement Confederation, World Congress held on September 9 at the BEXCO Convention Center in Busan City. What is the conference’s main theme and agenda and how are preparations going?

The IMEKO is an international organization whose purpose is to share information and foster cooperation among equipment developers in the global measurement technology industry. At present, 39 countries from around the world over and 24 technical committees are involved.

The IMEKO World Congress is an international academic event that takes place every three years. Though it has been held mostly in Europe, in 2008 KRISS succeeded in hosting the 20th event. Since then, we have made thorough preparations to fill the week-long congress with various events, including the symposiums of the 24 technical committees, four special sessions, invited lectures and the exhibition participated by measurement device manufacturers and suppliers at home and abroad.

The conference’s theme for this year is Metrology for Green Growth. We are expecting approximately 800 domestic and foreign industrial experts will grace the occasion, along with a number of guest speakers, including Dr. Michael Kühne, deputy director of the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM). I am sure that congress will contribute greatly to the international standing of KRISS and Korea in the global metrology industry.