Day 21: Rain, thunder and university visits (Elwin) 

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Today, it’s Monday july 31st, day 21 of our SPARK study tour. I woke up at 07:15h in the hostel in Seoul. The dresscode was “casual, but representative”, so I put on jean shorts and a T-shirt. After getting ready, Sebastiaan, Stefan and I went to the “French bakery” around the corner to get some breakfast. After breakfast, we got some iced coffee and we were ready to start our day. While walking to the metro station, we heard thunder in the distance, and it started to rain a little. This turned out to be an omen for the rest of the day. 

Our first destination was Sunkyunkwan University. When we arrived at the metro station close to the university, it was raining cats and dogs, and we still had to go to the department building. To make matters worse, we initially walked into the wrong building, so we had to face the rain again and arrived – most of us drenched – at the correct building where we were given a presentation about the university. We were told that Sunkyunkwan University was founded in 1392, during the Joseon Dynasty, and that it was the first university in Korea. We were at the Suwan campus, where the natural sciences are located, at the Electronic and Electric Engineering department. 

After the presentation we were given a lab tour. First up was the Co-Op Center Research Faculty, where we were shown around by professor Hyunchang. In this faculty, new products can be developed and papers can be written in cooperation with companies like Samsung or LG. We saw a lot of labs and equipment during the tour, such as an X-ray photo spectrometer (used to find contaminations on semiconductor products) and a Focused Ion Beam (used to create very small structures used in nano sciences). 

Our second tour in Sunkyunkwan University was in the Robot Café. We got a demo of a robot that can run errands for you, like bringing a cup of orange juice. We also got to see a visual recognition system and a system used for navigating on extraterrestrial soil without any GPS connection. In the adjacent labs, we saw a system that can make a 3D model using a camera similar to Kinect. The PhD candidate working on the project tried to make a model of Thijs’ head, but the software crashed repeatedly. My guess on what the reason can be, is as good as yours. The last project we have seen at the Sunkyunkwan University was a very small camera at the end of a fiber used for epiduroscopies. 

After the tour through the labs we had to face the drizzle again. I ate, soaking wet, with some other SPARK participants at the same kind of place as where we ate our breakfast.

Our next stop was Seoul National University. After a bus trip we arrived at the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. First we were given a presentation to introduce the university and next we went on a tour. During the tour we saw a library, a soldering lab and some PhD projects on electro-medical fusion engineering. They did experiments like implementing electronics into the brains of pigeons and mice to control their movements or how they react to certain smells. Next, we went to a lab where they used fluid dynamics which could be modeled by some kind of MOSFET transistor and a lab where you could learn everything about holograms. Furthermore, we had seen a presentation where some researches were trying to replace regular optical elements with metamaterials. Finally, we got to see a lab where they were working on flexible electronics and they showed us a LED matrix printed on a flexible material. 

When we left the Seoul National University it had luckily and finally stopped raining. Sebastiaan, Stefan, Pieter, Jeroen, Martijn and myself went to a restaurant close to our hostel. There we had a delicious meal consisting out of a burger, some French fries and a salad. Typically non-Korean and a nice change from fish and Kimchi. After dinner, I went back to the hostel to get some rest. 

Concluding, it was a day full of rain, presentations, lab tours, rumbling in the clouds and more rain. I have one wish for the rest of the study tour: “Geen Gedonder!”. 

– Elwin Hameleers

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