Asia Trip Day One: Greetings from Seoul

It’s summer time in Seoul, and today began a weeklong trip to Asia where I, along with members of the Georgia Tech Development team, will meet with key academic partners, alumni, new and current students, and parents.  During our trip, we will travel to Seoul (Korea), Bangkok (Thailand), and Singapore.

We are proud that Georgia Tech students represent 115 countries worldwide, including many students from Asia. A significant number of our more than 140,000 alumni/ae are from outside the United States. This globalization dates back to the beginnings of the Institute, but has taken new impetus with the greater globally focused goals of our Strategic Plan: “expand Georgia Tech’s global footprint and influence.”

We indeed live in a “flat world” and our students must feel comfortable to operate in, interact with and understand different cultures. Our students recognize the wisdom and value of this education – 48% of our undergraduates participate in a major international educational experience. Compared with the national average of 10%, we are very proud of that accomplishment.

In addition, Georgia Tech has collaborations in more than 80 countries, and institutional partnerships in more than 30 countries. Another expression of our international outreach is the presence of our representatives in Asia, Europe and Latin America. This collaboration between the Office of Development and the Vice Provost of International Affairs is a first in Institute history, and is already yielding good outcomes in terms of visibility, research endeavors and resources.

Our “man in Asia” is Shelton Chan, an alumnus of ISyE from Shanghai, China. He works with Marta Garcia, the associate vice president for international development. Together, they organized this trip to Asia (another one will follow in August).

Why Asia?  

Besides being a region of extraordinary economic growth, much built on science and technology, four of the top 10 countries represented in our alumni/ae rosters are from Asia. This region not only brings us its best and brightest undergraduate and graduate students, but also key academic partners. For example, last year, the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering teamed up with Seoul National University, South Korea’s premier academic institution, to create a new mechanical engineering program that will give students a chance to spend at least one year abroad after beginning their studies at their home institutions.

Last night, despite the jetlag after the very long trip, I had the pleasure of meeting one of our very loyal Korean alums. Mr. Soojin Chung, IE ’75, MS’77.  His support is emblematic of the extraordinary loyalty of our former students. After a very successful career in leadership positions in very large companies, Mr. Chung reinvented himself and followed his passion in founding a landscape company that uses Korea’s old and distinctive pine trees in modern commercial landscaping. He describes them as “large Bonsai.”

Mr. Chung has organized Korean alumni for many years and is always willing to help, despite having not visited the Institute in many, many years.  Hopefully we can remedy the situation and welcome him back on campus very soon. I suspect he will not recognize the physical campus when he visits but I am sure he will like what he sees and feels.

 - Rafael L. Bras

Photo above from left: Dr. Rafael Bras, Marta Garcia, associate vice president of international development, Mr. Soojin Chung, IE ’75, MS’77, and Mr. Shelton Chan, managing director, development, Asia Pacific.

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  • Seoul, South Korea Trip 2015

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