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2017-07 19

[Student]Early Bird Catches the Market

There is an old saying “early bird catches the worm”. In this case, the early bird caught the market of software education. Son Jin-ho (Department of Mechanical Engineering, 3rd yr) and his company Algorithm LABS was selected in one of the forty college start-ups by Hankyung’s Campus Job and Joy magazine. Focusing on Algorithm leading into successful results “I have never made it to the ranks for seven years in the regionals. I barely won the encouragement award. People like me are called ‘encouraged-ever-afters’,” chuckled Son. In 2002 when he began studying algorithm, there were not so many people studying the subject. Until he won the second prize ranking 13th in Korea Olympiad in Informatics, he never considered himself as elite in Algorithm. Even after coming to college, his GPA was never summa cum laude level. But the reason behind his recent success was focusing on one road. A professor in the department of Mechanical Engineering was looking for someone who could analyze data in his company, and Son opened his office door, trying to consult on his GPA. Son was scouted to the company as an intern, where all other employees had Ph.D. or equivalent level of education. Prior to the internship, he never knew where algorithms are used for. Through further experience in Samsung Membership program and more, he began to realize there is a demand in the market of algorithm experts. "Knowing that the education we provide will open many doors for the students motivates me the most" said Son, reminding of his students. Young CEO revolutionizing the way of software education Being taught how to program and construct the algorithm for as long as a decade, Son always thought the quality of education depends too much on the ability of individual instructors. The size of the class was too big for the teachers to give enough feedback to students, and the traditional method of education was highly passive and inefficient. Also, most of the institutions taught only coding, which does not meet the needs of the society. Therefore, Son came up with a system called ‘Flipped Learning’, which was designed to literally ‘flipp' the way of learning. Students study the rudimental concepts via online platform resembling MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) and come to class no bigger than five to actually practice what they have learned already. This process enables students to freely ask questions and receives active feedback from the instructor. As algorithm questions tend to be highly complicated and require at least three hours to solve one, Son thought such style of learning would suit the condition of software education better. Son believes Flipped Learning is much more effective for the learners to completely understand and utilize what they have learned. “Students learned algorithm in this particular method for only four to five months are now winning the Korea Olympiad of Informatics.” says Son, proudly. Son is promoting his curriculum to students and parents in a classroom. (Photo courtesy to Son) Software education market’s wing beneath the wind of public education As the importance of coding and algorithm education is being emphasized now more than ever, Algorithm LABS provide a full package of original contents and platform. Attracting customers both in private and public sectors, Algorithm LABS seems like it is going to grow more in the coming year. Software subject will now substitute the Informatics subject in middle school and high school curriculum in Korea. Elementary school students will also be learn computer software starting 2019. “For the rest of the year, expanding our influence is our top priority” said Son. As a long-term goal, Son expects Algorithm LABS to provide full online courses and to even reach to the overseas market such as Vietnam “We’re still building our references,” said Son. Slow but steady, with a plausible goal and focus was how Son became the person who he is now and the way Algorithm LABS will grow further. Kim So-yun Photos by Choi Min-ju