Are You a “Research” Person?
Are You a “Research” Person?
  • Reporter Chung Sung-joon
  • 승인 2014.09.25 20:11
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In POSTECH, undergraduates often find answers to career problems by getting involved in research participation programs which allow them to have a “taste” of a life as a researcher. A survey was conducted from Sep. 3-7 to explore the impressions and opinions from 102 participants (all undergraduates) -86% male and 14% female - regarding this program. Professors’ perspectives were also covered in this article via an interview with Professor Ildoo Hwang (LIFE).

Student’s Perspective
Research participation programs were apparently meaningful to many individuals, especially to those who had uncertainties about their future careers. These programs gave them insight into what they might be doing in a laboratory as a graduate student - this included obstacles that they are likely to face in their career path and the attitudes they must embrace as researchers. Frequent contact with professors played a significant role for students in judging whether doing research suits them. Students could also get a glimpse of ambiences of laboratories under different professors. Graduates often taught the undergraduates basic technical skills so that they would adapt well to the laboratory life. Undergraduate students were told to perform extensions/continuations of research projects previously carried out in this program in laboratories of some departments.
Like a two-sided coin, there was obviously a group of students who found the research participation program rather disappointing. Some students were devastated to realize that they would not be given any opportunity to handle research projects on their own because undergraduates lack “professional” knowledge compared to graduates. They complained about the indescribably long amount of time they had to invest in doing monotonous tasks, for instance, reading research articles and merely mimicking what graduates are performing. In a particular laboratory, students were discouraged to find pessimistic seniors who looked down on the students. Those who took part in this program during the semester articulated that they found it difficult to handle heavy loads of assignments as they had to be in laboratories at all times except when there was a lecture.

Professor’s Perspective
According to Prof. Hwang, students should learn to apply their knowledge of their respective major in actual experiments, improving their skills in obtaining acceptable results, analyzing and carrying out proofreading steps on their own. Moreover, he mentioned that students must push themselves to open their mind towards unfamiliar experiences as well as an influx of information and be ready to accept them. Active participation and willingness to face hurdles are key qualities students ought to possess. Regarding the most frequently-asked question “When is the best time to begin this program?”, he said from the third year onward; by this time, students have completed most of the courses in their major and definitely have a strong foundation in their respective fields.