Professor Byung-Ho Lee says, “I dream of a college of engineering where revolutionary education, world-class research, and startups coexist.” (Donga Science, 2022.01.15)

2022-01-04l Hit 56

Byung-Ho Lee, the dean of the college of engineering

Byung-Ho Lee, the dean of the college of engineering. Provided by Yoon-Joong Nam

I would like to imprint on the minds of the public that the SNU college of engineering is a world-class engineering school. Our college has certainly made great social contributions in many fields such as research and education, but since it is a place of large social interest, even the slightest mistake leads to the public criticizing and negatively evaluating the college. I would like to contribute to promoting and publicizing the value of the SNU college of engineering by uniting the members of the college to overcome this problem.

On October 25th of last year, the dean of the college of engineering, who was interviewed at the college of engineering headquarters located at Gwanak-gu, Seoul, was asked how he would like to lead the college. In his humble and quiet tone, he started his response with “reflection”. It was unexpected since newly elected deans tend to present their aspirations, determination, and hope-filled vision of the college in their first interview. Surely enough, the dean’s plans for the college came afterward. Honest reflections are followed by solutions. “To this end, we want to encourage research that not only excels academically but is also able to be practically applied to the social and industrial environments.”

Dean Lee was inaugurated as the 30th dean of the college of engineering, SNU, on September 1st last year. He is a scholar in the fields of optics and next-generation displays, and is active as a member of international academic societies such as IEEE, SPIE, Optica, and SID. Recently, he has been focusing on the research of meta-surfaces, whose refractive index can be artificially controlled, and the development of devices that apply this technology. Research of meta-surfaces is considered essential for the acceleration into the era of VR and AR. In March of last year, he developed and unveiled the world’s thinnest sunglasses-type VR device.


“College of engineering needs to facilitate education adjusted to the students’ abilities”…

Also donated to fund the ‘revolutionary education award’.


The dean, who is sensitive to cutting-edge industrial and technological trends, emphasized that the college of engineering should attempt a new form of education that meets the social and industrial demands of the new era. He said, “Students’ way of thinking and their interests have changed. Professors should not just think of the time when they were students when educating them.”, and “It is important to provide an education that adjusted to the abilities of the students and makes them self-motivated”. He plans to “revive the now-defunct award, the outstanding teaching award, and to recognize and encourage newly developed innovative education methods”, and to “promote the acceleration of revolutionary education by subjectively assessing the faculty’s efforts in revolutionary education during his promotion evaluation. He has already made contributions to revolutionary teaching. In November of the previous year, Dean Lee donated 150 million won to the SNU engineering education and research foundation and the ECE scholarship foundation to be used for innovative education awards.

He also plans to continue to provide various support so that students can get used to entrepreneurship, which is a current global topic. In the ‘Haedong Idea Factory’, which is a place for creation at the SNU engineering consulting center, students are able to directly realize their ideas through processing and production. The ‘SNU technology startup plaza- gongzone 34’ facilitates a place for startups and holds a startup competition in cooperation with Dongseo Foods.  The ‘new technology entrepreneurship network’ provides students with startup-related consulting on topics such as relevant law, regulations, and tax policies, which students may be unfamiliar with. Dean Lee said, “The operation is active enough to attract the interest of the SNU headquarters”.

Engineering is a field that most broadly and accurately traces the direction of technology and industry. SNU college of engineering stands at the forefront, pursuing the direction of Korea’s, and the world’s technology and industry. I asked Dean Lee what future fields he is interested in. He responded, “I am paying close attention to environment-related fields”, and that “a good example would be carbon-neutral manufacturing process required in industrial sites”. In the field of displays, major companies such as Apple have announced plans to introduce 100% carbon-free technology into the manufacturing process, but the reality is that the plans are currently difficult to achieve. Dean Lee said, “a diversity of majors should research new manufacturing technologies and contribute to substantially altering manufacturing methods.”, and that, “especially since Korea is a large exporter of parts, Korea must follow this global trend”. “The SNU college of engineering must pave a way for that”, he added with emphasis.

In addition to carbon neutrality, he added that he was also looking closely into the fields of healthcare and unmanned vehicles. He said, “We are planning to set the direction of the college of engineering through forums for future analysis”. In the field of semiconductors and displays, he said that developing new technologies is important, but maintaining the number one spot by strengthening already areas we already excel at is the most important. To this end, he said that he will focus on nurturing the talents that the industry demands.

The SNU college of engineering holds 12 departments. Every department is important, but depending on the era, each department has ups and downs. Since a few years ago, AI has been the center of attraction, and computer science related majors have been gaining popularity. Some argue that the college’s education system should be reorganized around these popular departments. However, Dean Lee said, “Emphasizing certain majors to a large extent does not fit with the SNU college of engineering’s responsibility of fostering excellent talents for the social and industrial sectors.”, and that “There are current diagnostics that majoring in other areas and applying AI into those areas, which is termed ‘AI+X’, could be more advantageous. Thus, strengthening education in all departments is necessary”. The plan to appropriately utilize combined majors and double majors within 5 departments to secure flexibility which individual majors may not be able to cover, will continue. A new academic program will also be tested. Dean Lee said, “starting in 2022, we plan to test a no assigned major program for 40 students”.  

Dean Lee said that he would continue to pay attention to the issue of securing diversity in the STEM fields, especially in the field of engineering. Currently, 17 out of the 318 professors in the college of engineering are female. The proportion is low, at 5.3%, but the number is expected to increase, and two additional female professors were hired recently. Dean Lee continued, “especially since the SNU headquarters is paying close attention to female faculty, improvements in this aspect are planned.”, and that “12% of undergraduates at the SNU college of engineering are female (2020 statistics), which is lower than other universities. “We are working to improve this as well”, he said.



Translated by: Do-Hyung Kim, English Editor of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,