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제목 MSDE학과 20주년 축하 메세지
작성자 MSDE학과 조회수 380 날짜 2021-03-03
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Manufacturing Systems and Design Engineering (MSDE) Program.

SeoulTech University and Northumbria University (UNN)

Dr. Stephen B Bell

Former SeoulTech and UNN Manufacturing Systems and Design Engineering program coordinator

 

It is a pleasure to write an account of the early development of the MSDE program.  It was a privilege to be involved from its inception in 1997.  To conceive and develop a program with such unique characteristics was a challenge for both SeoulTech and Northumbria Universities but the determination, collaboration and commitment of both universities was to result in a highly successful program which still continues and thrives today.

My first visit to SeoulTech was in October 1997.  The President Choi Dong-kye and all the staff made me feel most welcome, a hospitality that was to continue in all subsequent visits.  Not having visited Korea before, I had limited knowledge of the Higher Education System.  Initial discussions with the staff made me realise that the British and Korean undergraduate engineering programs were very different.  The Korean programs lasted for four years and the UK programs for three.  It was also quite common for the male students to interrupt their studies for military service which extended the length of the program.  In the UK the academic year starts in September, in Korea it is March.  There were also differences in grading student achievement.  In Korea the Grade Point Average is used, in the UK at that time achievement was rated using an honours classification.

SeoulTech’s proposed MSDE program would be unique.  It would be taught and assessed in the English language and validated by a UK university with a dual award from both universities.  The concept of such a program showed great vision and faith by the President and staff at SeoulTech.  Similarly, for UNN it was to be a venture with many unknowns.  In 1997 UNN also had limited knowledge of the Korean Higher education system.  During the 1990’s Higher Education in the UK had become heavily regulated with quality procedures for developing and delivering both home and overseas programs.  Each UK university was subjected to regular audit visits by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) that assessed each home and overseas program.  So, it was against this background a successful program had to be d that would accommodate the differences outlined above and also meet UNN and QAA requirements.

The development of a new program is always a major undertaking and there were many complications to overcome including such issues as the minimum standard of English language that would be required by the students.  After much communication, meetings and exchange visits between UNN staff, myself and SeoulTech the program was submitted for validation.

An audit team from UNN together with an independent member from another UK university visited SeoulTech in December 1998.  The team made a full visit to the laboratories, computer facilities and library followed by an examination and in-depth discussion of all aspects of the proposed program.  In Korean higher education the academic staff had a great deal of autonomy in developing and delivering their programs and assessing student achievement, so this type of audit was quite new to many.  The staff from SeoulTech engaged fully with the audit team showing enthusiasm and clear evidence of collaboration between the universities.  As the UNN coordinator, I was delighted when the Chair of the audit team announced that they had validated the program.

Of course, this was only the start of the process.  In January 1999 a request was made to the Korean Ministry of education for approval to recruit students to the program.  This was followed in February by a visit from the President of SeoulTech, Choi Dong-kye and Professor Lee Won-young to the UK.  The agreement between SeoulTech and UNN was signed in July 1999 and the Vice Chancellor from UNN visited SeoulTech in October.

When I next visited Seoul in March 2000 it was a pleasure to meet the 17 freshmen who had enrolled on the first intake.  In September Prof. Jang Dong-young was appointed as Director of the program and Cho Mun-hee as the Administrator.  This was followed by a visit with other colleagues to the UK to discuss ongoing developments.  So, it was with expectation that I visited SeoulTech in March 2001 but I was dismayed to find that only eight freshman students of the 2000 intake had progressed to become sophomores!  It was a great relief to learn that the missing students were completing their military service and would return to the program.  It was encouraging to meet the next cohort of 23 freshmen who had been selected to enrol on the 2001 intake.  Regular visits continued to take place between the two Universities.  In July 2002 Dr Kwon Hyuk-Dong who had studied at Manchester in the UK for his PhD was appointed to the program.  Also, there was a further intake of 37 freshmen which was very rewarding.

At the suggestion of SeoulTech University in 2003 a member of staff from UNN spent a year in Seoul teaching on the MSDE program showing SeoulTech’s continued commitment to close collaboration between the universities.  It also gave the students the experience and benefits of being taught by a staff member whose first language was English.  Another development at about this time was the beginning of the student visits to the UK and UNN.  It allowed them to experience UK Higher Education by attending lectures and undertaking practical project work.  There was an opportunity to be able to show the students some of the sights of the North East of England including Hadrian’s Wall, Durham Cathedral and Alnwick Castle.  In addition, the students organised their own independent visits to Edinburgh and London before returning home.  These orientation visits were well received by the students and accompanying staff.  They often led to students choosing to study at UNN as part of the MSDE program and occasionally to undertake an internship in a UK company.

The year 2004 was quite eventful.  The first students graduated from the program, in March 34 freshmen were selected for the 5th intake and in June the program was re-approved by UNN.  This continued enthusiasm for the program along with the first graduates and reapproval was satisfying evidence of progress and development.  It was giving the program momentum to carry it forward with a bright future.  In May 2006 all of UNN’s collaborative programs were audited by the UK Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).  The QAA gave a very positive and encouraging report saying that, ‘It was the view of the audit team that UNN had taken a very realistic and practical approach to collaboration by establishing a transparent risk d strategic approach to such ventures which focused upon high quality partners where high value and volume could be generated’.  Later in 2006 I was privileged to be asked to be part of the International Symposium on Educational Excellence which was hosted by SeoulTech.  Much of the symposium was set against the background and context of the MSDE program.

SeoulTech continued to invite academics from the USA and UNN to teach on the program.  This enriched and consolidated its international collaborative nature for both the students and the academics.  It was particularly rewarding to witness the development of the students.  They became more confident in their technical studies and their use of the English language during their progression to graduation.  Several students continued their studies at post graduate level in the UK for both Master’s and PhD degrees.  For me there have been many high points in playing a major part in the creation and early development of the MSDE program.  One of these was when my wife and myself were honoured to be invited by one of the students to meet his parents and with them to attend his Master’s graduation ceremony at Cambridge University in November 2008.

 

I am delighted to celebrate with SeoulTech and UNN their twenty years of partnership and the tremendous success of the MDSE program.  Although now retired from full time academic life, I am always very pleased to be invited to meet new students when they visit UNN.  It is a continuing pleasure to the longstanding friendships made with SeoulTech staff over the years.  I wish the students, and all the academic and support staff every success in the future and that the program will continue to go from strength to strength.

 

Dr. Stephen B Bell

Former SeoulTech and UNN Manufacturing Systems and Design Engineering program coordinator.

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