Software push by university to catch up with U.S.

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Software push by university to catch up with U.S.

Seoul’s Sungkyunkwan University will establish a new department with the tentative name “software academy” to nurture future computer software developers starting next year.

“Local corporations have a hard time recruiting quality talent in the software sector because they have long concentrated on hardware,” the university’s admissions head, Kim Yoon-jea, told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday. “This new department aims to nurture talent that will meet the demand of corporations, much like the university’s semiconductor systems engineering department.”

Sungkyunkwan’s plan benefits students who enter the academy, providing some with four-year full scholarships and assistance with dormitory expenses. The university plans to admit 30 students for the four-year course in the next academic year and will initially select students by an early admissions process that starts next month. The university wants to expand the number of students in the course to 100.

The idea of establishing a software engineering department was inspired by Lee Kun-hee, CEO of Samsung Electronics. In a recent meeting with university officials, Lee said that Samsung Electronics alone needs 30,000 software researchers, but Korea only has 18,000.

Lee went on to say that Samsung will hire the remaining 12,000 researchers from countries overseas, such as software powerhouse India.

“State universities in the United States run collegiate honor programs and provide incentives to talented students so as not to lose them to Ivy League schools,” another official from Sungkyunkwan University said. “We’re taking a similar strategy to attract talented students who plan to apply for popular departments such as medical studies.”

Shin Dong-ryeol, dean of the university’s information, communication and engineering department, said many young Koreans neglect the software sector. “For many Korean students, software is a 4-D industry, meaning it’s difficult, dangerous, dirty, and doesn’t guarantee a rosy future,” Shin said. “Even top universities like Seoul National University and Kaist failed to get full enrollment in their computer engineering departments.”

To realize its ambitious plan, Sungkyunkwan University already recruited four Kaist professors who specialize in software research and development. It plans to recruit software experts from international giants such as Intel, Microsoft and Qualcomm.

The university plans to offer professor positions even if applicants don’t have doctorates.

“Korea has the world’s best technology in making [hardware products], but there are very few Koreans who can work on architecture or develop a platform that runs smartphones, such as Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android,” Shin said.


By Kang In-sik, Kim Hyo-eun [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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