Finding the True Meaning of Engineering
Being both a president and a professor
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Although Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), which has the mission of international humanitarian medical treatment, is a familiar organization to the public, not many are intimate with Scientists and Engineers without Borders (SEWB). First started in 2009, the SEWB has endeavored to develop and provide the "appropriate technology" to developing countries. Professor Kim Yong-soo (Department of Nuclear Engineering) was elected as the fourth president of this organization on the 9th of this month, with an office term of two years.
The Scientists and Engineers without Borders
The main purpose of the SEWB is to provide aid to developing countries through the application of scientific and engineering methods. However, as developing countries have low standards of scientific technology, the SEWB mainly focuses on appropriate technology, which is a form of technology that takes the social infrastructure of a particular society into consideration and provides the adequate technical standards that can be sustainably developed and consumed within the society.
Neglected classes of people exist in every field, including science and technology. According to Kim, there are currently 1.4 billion people who are unable to access electricity. For these neglected classes, it is important that their actual quality of life is improved. Rather than simply providing them with cutting-edge technology, the SEWB aims to supply adequate technology that can be used within their scientific boundaries while meeting the direct needs of the people.
A good example of an appropriate technology given by Kim was that there are groups of people in Cambodia who must use rainwater as their drinkable water due to the poor water supply system. Providing these people with a water filtration system that is inexpensive and approachable would greatly enhance the quality of their lives. Supplying such systems in an adequate way is the main theme of appropriate technology and a main purpose of the SEWB organization. Kim mentioned, “We want to find a way in which every single person benefits from scientific technology and improves their quality of life through such privilege.”
Future plans as the new president
Until now, there have been limitations on the SEWB's ability to take action. Keeping up with its name, Kim now plans to extend the organization's efforts across borders into developing countries. In order to magnify the organization’s base, collaboration projects with other organizations are in order. Cooperation with other companies, based on corporate social responsibility actions, is how Kim is designing the application of technology on the actual sites of developing countries.
Furthermore, Kim has also been focusing on how the science and technology sectors are becoming an expanding interest of the Korean government’s official development assistance business, referring to aid offered to developing countries with the purpose of economic development, social improvement, and welfare promotion. The United Nations has also set poverty as its main sustainable development goal, which is in line with the SEWB 's purpose in tackling such issues through the application of scientific technology. Positioned upon such interests, Kim views the positive potentials of collaborative work with these major associations.
Kim is also putting effort into trying to divide the SEWB into various sectors such as energy, water and health, and medical treatment. This would enable science technicians to unite diverse fields with enhanced expertise. Mainly focusing on the reinforcement of the overall organization, Kim, with the help of the former president, is going to overcome the existing limitations of the SEWB.
As a professor at Hanyang University
As a professor of an engineering field, Kim has the purpose of contributing to the advancement of engineering and challenging himself with the task of social restoration. Achieving his former goal of becoming a renowned figure in the field of nuclear decommissioning, even being registered on the Marquis Who’s Who, one of the three major biographical dictionaries, Kim is now moving onto accomplishing his second ambition. Having pursued this field for the last seven years, Kim is persisting in his actions of disseminating appropriate technology.
Kim mentioned that he was proud at the thought that his election to president represented the well-formed groundwork of Hanyang, which has long shown efforts to pursue appropriate technology, being the only school to have a research society among its professors. The university students have also recently made a group named A-Prime, which focuses on appropriate technology and its application in developing countries. Established by Kim, the Volunteer Corps of Hanyang University Alumni have also applied actions of appropriate technology, especially when conducting volunteer work in developing countries like Cambodia and the Philippines.
According to Kim, where there is light there are shadows that exist. The rapid development of technology has greatly enhanced the overall lives of the human race, yet there are classes that have been alienated from even the most basic technologies. He ended the interview by stating, “I hope Hanyang students acknowledge such situations and feel thankful for all that they have received. A student that senses such gratitude will be strongly aware of his or her future actions.”
Choi Seo-yong firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Hwang Yu-jin
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