Feature Story | 13-Jan-2023

UAE Space Leaders named to be the 1st of the honorees of KAIST Alumni Association's special recognition for graduates of foreign nationality

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

The KAIST Alumni Association (Chairman, Chil-Hee Chung) announced on the 12th that the winners of the 2023 KAIST Distinguished Alumni Award and International Alumni Award has been selected.

The KAIST Distinguished Alumni Award, which produced the first recipient in 1992, is an award given to alumni who have contributed to the development of the nation and society, or who have glorified the honor of their alma mater with outstanding academic achievements and social and/or communal contributions.

On a special note, this year, there has been an addition to the honors, “the KAIST Distinguished International Alumni Award” to honor and encourage overseas alumni who are making their marks in the international community that will boost positive recognition of KAIST in the global setting and will later become a bridge that will expedite Korea's international efforts in the future.

As of 2022, the number of international students who succeeded in earning KAIST degrees has exceeded 1,700, and they are actively doing their part back in their home countries as leaders in various fields in which they belong, spanning from science and technology, to politics, industry and other corners of the society.


<Photo 01>

(From left) Omran Sharaf, the Assistant Minister of UAE Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Advanced Science and Technology, Amer Al Sayegh the Director General of Space Project at MBRSC, and Mohammed Al Harmi the Director General of Administration at MBRSC (Photos provided by the courtesy of MBRSC) 


To celebrate and honor their outstanding achievements, the KAIST Alumni Association selected a team of three alumni of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to receive the Distinguished International Alumni Award for the first time. The named honorees are Omran Sharaf, a master’s graduate from the Graduate School of Science and Technology Policy, and Amer Al Sayegh and Mohammed Al Harmi, master’s graduates of the Department of Aerospace Engineering - all three of the class of 2013 in leading positions in the UAE space program to lead the advancement of the science and technology of the country.

Currently, the three alums are in directorship of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) with Mr. Omran Sharaf, who has recently been appointed as the Assistant Minister in charge of Advanced Science and Technology at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, being the Project Director of the Emirates Mars Mission of MBRSC and Mr. Amer Al Sayegh in the Director General position in charge of Space Project and Mr. Mohammed Al Harmi, the Director General of Administration, at MBRSC.

They received technology transfer from “SatRec I”, Korea's first satellite system exporter and KAIST alumni company, for about 10 years from 2006, while carrying out their master’s studies at the same time.

Afterwards, they returned to UAE to lead the Emirates Mars Mission, which is already showing tangible progress including the successful launch of the Mars probe "Amal" (ال امل, meaning ‘Hope’ in Arabic), which was the first in the Arab world and the fifth in the world to successfully enter into orbit around Mars, and the UAE’s first independently developed Earth observation satellite "KhalifaSat".

An official from the KAIST Alumni Association said, "We selected the Distinguished International Alumni after evaluating their industrious leadership in promoting various space industry strategies, ranging from the development of Mars probes and Earth observation satellites, as well as lunar exploration, asteroid exploration, and Mars residence plans."


<Photo 02>

(From left) Joo-Sun Choi, President & CEO of Samsung Display Co. Ltd., Jung Goo Cho, the CEO of Green Power Co. Ltd., Jong Seung Park, the President of Agency for Defense Development (ADD), Kyunghyun Cho, Professor of New York University (NYU)


Also, four of the Korean graduates, Joo-Sun Choi, the CEO of Samsung Display, Jung Goo Cho, the CEO of Green Power Co. Ltd., Jong Seung Park, the President of Agency for Defense Development (ADD), and Kyunghyun Cho, a Professor of New York University (NYU), were selected as the winners of the “Distinguished Alumni Award”. 

Mr. Joo-Sun Choi (Electrical and Electronic Engineering, M.S. in 1989, Ph.D. in 1995), the CEO of Samsung Display, led the successful development and mass-production of the world's first ultra-high-definition QD-OLED Displays, and preemptively transformed the structure of business of the industry and has been leading the way in technological innovation.

Mr. Jung Goo Cho (Electrical and Electronic Engineering, M.S. in 1988, Ph.D. in 1992), the CEO of Green Power Co. Ltd., developed wireless power technology for the first time in Korea in the early 2000s and applied it to semiconductor/display lines and led the wireless power charging technology in various fields, such as developing KAIST On-Line Electric Vehicles (OLEV) and commercializing the world's first wireless charger for 11kW electric vehicles.

Mr. Jong Seung Park (Mechanical Engineering, M.S. in 1988, Ph.D., in 1991), The President of ADD is an expert with abundant science and technology knowledge and organizational management capabilities. He is contributing greatly to national defense and security through science and technology.

Mr. Kyunghyun Cho (Computer Science, B.S., in 2009), the Professor of Computer Science and Data Science at NYU, is a world-renowned expert in Artificial Intelligence (AI), advancing the concept of 'Neural Machine Translation' in the field of natural language processing, to make great contributions to AI translation technology and related industries. 

Chairman Chil-Hee Chung, the 26th Chair of KAIST Alumni Association “As each year goes by, I feel that the influence of KAIST alumni goes beyond science and technology to affect our society as a whole.” He went on to say, “This year, as it was more meaningful to extend the award to honor the international members of our Alums, we look forward to seeing more of our alumni continuing their social and academic endeavors to play an active role in the global stage in taking on the global challenges.”

The Ceremony for KAIST Distinguished Alumni and International Alumni Award Honorees will be conducted at the Annual New Year’s Event of KAIST Alumni Association for 2023 to be held on Friday, January 13th, at the Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.