Military launches science program

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Military launches science program

The government plans to launch a new, elite training program for engineers and researchers, designed to boost the military’s competency in defense technology and create career opportunities for young engineers.

Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning Choi Mun-kee and Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin yesterday announced a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in developing the project, modeled on the Israeli military’s Talpiot program.

The Talpiot program, established by the Israel Defense Forces in 1979, has been considered quite successful, producing founders and CEOs of famous tech ventures such as Better Place and Fraud Sciences.

The program recruits high school students who are brilliant at math and science, and allows them to pursue a university education in defense technology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, followed by six years of mandatory military service after graduation as research and development officers.

In the Korean version of the program, two distinct paths will be offered: the science and technology officer program and the cybersecurity professional program.

For each program, the government will pick 20 college sophomores every year from Korea’s top five engineering schools: the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology and Pohang University of Science and Technology.

Students majoring in electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, computer software, physics and chemistry are eligible to apply. Selected students will take a special curriculum jointly structured by the schools and the Defense Ministry, which includes courses related to defense technology, throughout their junior and senior years.

After graduation, they will be required to serve for three years as commissioned officers participating in research projects at the Agency for Defense Development, in lieu of the regular military training programs.

The government will start recruiting the first crop of 20 students this year.

IT and engineering students or any young person with an interest in cybersecurity can sign up for the Science Ministry’s existing cybersecurity talent fostering program. The ministry’s elite training program teaches various areas of cybersecurity such as hacking, financial security and digital forensics, which explores digital crimes by recovering deleted data.

After completing the six- to eight-month program, students are eligible to apply for this new military service. Those who choose to serve as an enlisted soldier will spend 21 months in the program, while noncommissioned officers can serve longer.

These recruits will be placed in different units and agencies under the Defense Ministry, such as the Cyber Warfare Command.

For the cyberprogram, the two ministries will finalize the numbers of trainees and start developing the military service curriculum within the year. The government will start recruiting trainees next year.


BY KIM JI-YOON [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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