A Professor and a CEO
Park Jai-koo (Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Engineering)
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The two nouns, professor and CEO often do not go along too well. It is because the two jobs require two distinct traits, such as a rigorous academic interest for a professor and innovation for a CEO. There are few who manage to bear the two titles, but Park Jai-koo (Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Engineering) is one of them. In one of the busy Saturday afternoons of Park, News H visited his office to take a closer look at his recent accomplishment.
Hang in there, that is what makes difference in the end
‘Congratulations’ was the word that started the interview. Park and his company, Micropore was able to draw a huge 3 billion won investment to mass produce his original insulation. The type of insulation Park has developed is specifically used in the process of assembling displays, which is one of the most important industries in the modern world. Park’s insulation is different from the Japanese and German products mainly in two ways. First, it creates less dust. The invention is made of Silicon dioxide, commonly known as Silica. It is one of the most commonly found minerals that originates from underground. “Most insulations are made of Silica, but the root technology of processing it creates vastly different results,” said Park. The second specialty is that it protects from heat very well. The statement may sound awkward as all insulates should prevent heat. Nevertheless, Park mentioned that the imported materials are not specifically made to be used as semi-conductor display insulates. Therefore, Park’s invention with countless pores inside serves the purpose much better. To the question, ‘what was the core factor for Micropore to receive such investment?’ Park answered ‘technology’ without a second of hesitation.
Park told us that his past 20 years of working as a professor and a CEO was burdensome as it sounds. Despite the Act on Special Measures for the Promotion of Venture Businesses in 1997 that gave birth to dozens of ‘professor-start-ups’, Micropore is one of the longest living ventures of its kind. “Right earlier this week, I took off from the metro to visit my factory and realized that my shoes were worn out so much. That is how much effort and energy was required to keep up the work,” smiled Park. When asked what is the key behind all this, Park replied, "You just hang in there. There is no special skills or knowledge required. What you do is to pour your everything and hang in there. In the end, the one who endured the longest will make difference.”
Manufacturing industry as the engine of Korea
As an engineer professor, Park laments at the reality where not many companies own domestic factories. “Manufacturing industry should revive. That is the way for Korea to grow its competency,” said Park, filled with certainty. The root of such industry is mineral. In order to be utilized, a mineral requires to be located, mined, and processed. Park focuses in processing but also in Urban Mining. “There is more gold in your phone than in a 1 ton of mineral,” mentioned Park. Urban mining retrieves disposed cell phones or PCB (Printed Circuit Boards, found in all electronic devices) and selectively processes them in order to retrieve rare metals such as Au, Ag and Pt.
Park now looks forward to acquiring another title, an author. With his abundant experience in both business and engineering, he would like to give advice to fellow professors who are starting his or her own business or planning to have one. “They all need to hold up until the company actually makes progress and profit. I wish Hanyang, as one of the leading engineering schools in the nation, should have a signature company that has our name on it,” wished Park. For the short-term goal, Park plans to list Micropore on KOSDAQ. With the recent investment, may the wind blow to his path.
Kim So-yun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Lee Jin-myung
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