Korean engineering students study abroad at LCI

Alaina Robbins

For the second year in a row, 21 Korean students have been given the opportunity to experience higher education, courtesy of the New University for Regional Innovation program of South Korea, which kicked off a four-week study at the Liquid Crystal Institute.

Each student will spend seven weeks at Kent State. This costs more than $4,000 per student – a bill that is footed by the Korean government.

South Korea is looking to produce a new generation of researchers and engineers, said Oleg Lavrentovich, director of the Liquid Crystal Institute.

“Their (South Korea’s) government is investing in high-tech development, and it is investing in its youth,” he said.

Upon completion of the LCI building in 1996, many international students have taken an interest in the research performed at the institute.

“We are the number one center in the world in the research of liquid crystals,” Lavrentovich said. “Our professors are in great demand worldwide.”

Ten professors from the institute and the physics department are on hand to teach chemistry, physics and optics of the liquid crystal displays to the new students.

Before the students were allowed to participate in the institute’s classes, they were required to take three weeks of English language classes at the English as a Second Language center.

“The students worked on their communication skills and learned about American culture,” said Evie Papacosma, English as a Second Language coordinator. “They took classes to improve their reading, writing and grammar skills.”

The students are in classes Monday through Friday, but their weekends are filled with excursions to Amish country, Blossom Music Center and a weekend trip to Niagara Falls.

“It’s been a really good time here,” said Jung Hoon Han, 27, a senior at Hoseo University in Choongnam, South Korea. “All the teachers and students have been very kind to me, although I feel like I’m always doing homework.”

Chae Il Cheon, a visiting scientist at the institute, has been coordinating efforts between the NURI program and Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute, English as a Second Language center and College of Continuing Studies.

“This was set up as a five-year program, and it is anticipated that we will continue to host the students for at least three more years,” said LCI business manager Brenda Buck.

Although no university credit is offered, students will receive a certificate of completion to take back home to Korea.

Contact regional campuses and international affairs reporter Alaina Robbins at [email protected]