Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) is a private research university in Pohang, South Korea dedicated to research and education in science and technology. When POSTECH first opened its doors in 1986, in Pohang, Korea, most considered it a reckless move without any possibility of success. Since its founding by POSCO CEO Tae-Joon Park, POSTECH defied the odds by blazing new trails that had not been attempted by other universities in Asia. The result is a strong research-oriented university with a focus on student-centered learning, excellent research, and well-oiled academia-industry collaboration. POSTECH’s risk-taking, leadership, and eventual success have had a huge impact on higher education in Korea and in Asia. The global academic community has marveled at POSTECH’s accomplishments in such a short time. In just 29 years, POSTECH’s bold moves have propelled it to become one of Asia’s top universities and a university with prominent growth potential. POSTECH continues to strive to make the impossible possible, exploring uncharted territories in higher education and research.
History of POSTECH
POSTECH was established in 1986 in Pohang, Korea by POSCO, one of the world's leading steel companies, for the purpose of providing advanced education for budding engineers and laying the groundwork for future technological development.
The founder of POSCO and the founding chairman of POSTECH, Park Tae-joon realized the need for Korea to educate their youth in science and technology to ensure Korea's position in the high technology arena. Park wanted to use the California Institute of Technology as a model for POSTECH and visited the university on a business trip to Los Angeles in 1985. He noted characteristics of CALTECH and requested to the POSTECH founding team to establish a contemporary research university that had: a low student-faculty ratio, a greater proportion of graduate students to undergraduates, a low net education cost, student on-campus housing, and a high-quality campus environment. These features represented a drastic departure from the Korean universities of the 1980s.
POSCO organized a task force on February 21, 1984 made up of POSCO employees selected by the company. Construction work began on August 17, 1985. On May 4, 1986, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited POSTECH and donated an Inmos transputer, one of the leading edge computer parts at the time. The first matriculation ceremony was held on March 5, 1987. A group of 249 freshman were selected from the top one percent of all graduating seniors in Korea to be taught by an international faculty recruited by POSTECH founding president Hogil Kim and POSTECH task force head manager Dai Kong Lee. The first degree awarding ceremony was on February 20, 1991. Diplomas were awarded to 146 graduating seniors, 123 (84%) of whom went on to pursue graduate studies. The remaining 23 graduates were employed by the nation's major corporations including POSCO, Samsung, LG, and Hyundai.
To facilitate translational research and active academia-industry collaboration, POSTECH hosted POSCO's Research Institute of Science and Technology (RIST) on campus. In 1994, POSTECH set up the Pohang Accelerator Laboratory (PAL), a 3rd-generation synchrotron light source and now a national facility. Currently, the 4th-generation light source X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) is under construction (to be completed in 2015) at the cost of US$400 million, which will be the third one in the world and will open up new frontiers and research areas in life sciences, materials, chemistry, and physics.
Institutional Accreditation or Recognition - Ministry of Education, Korea
- In 1998, POSTECH was ranked by Asiaweek as the best science and technology university in Asia.
- From 2002 to 2006, one of Korea's most circulated daily newspapers, JoongAng Ilbo, ranked POSTECH as the leading university in Korea.
- In 2010, the Times Higher Educationranked POSTECH 28th in the world.
- In 2011, the Times Higher Education ranked the university as the 53rd best university in the world, the 6th best in Asia, and the best in South Korea.
- In 2011, QS World University Rankings ranked POSTECH 98th overall in the world. It remains third best ranked in Korea, after Seoul National University and KAIST, in the QS Asian University Rankings.
- However, in theTimes Higher Education rankings, it scored highly after compilers placed less emphasis on "reputation and heritage" and gave more weight to objective measures including the influence of universities' research, placing 53rd.
- In 2012 and 2013, the Times Higher Educationranked POSTECH 1st in its "100 Under 50 Young Universities" rankings.
- The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune cited POSTECH's rapid ascent as a young university to top the world rankings in less than 50 years.
Student life @POSTECH
Since 1987, POSTECH has hosted the annual Sunrise Festival to celebrate the spirit of unity and harmony of the POSTECH members and the local community. It is run in mid-May for three days immediately after the midterm of the spring semester. This festival is financially supported by the university, and is prepared by the entire student body and the POSTECH Student Club Association. Participants at the festival can enjoy movies, performances, singing contests, quiz shows, as well as traditional Korean drinks sold at cafes, beer gardens, and food stalls set up by student clubs.
POSTECH-KAIST Science War
Science War is an event held together by the KAIST and Pohang University of Science and Technology every year in the fall. The first tournament was held since 2002 at KAIST. Every year since, both schools held it alternately. The competition name is determined depending by the home university. If held at KAIST, it is called "Pocajeon"; at the Pohang University of Science and Technology, it is called "kapojeon". Events include football, baseball, basketball, athletics and hacking competitions, League of Legend, and a science quiz.
Hyungsan Academic Festival
The Hyungsan Academic Festival, organized by the Federation of Student Circles, takes place at the end of October after the midterm of the second semester. Originally designed to provide venues for academic presentations by students' circles and departments, this festival now provides various programs including sports competition, plays and movie festivals, as well as academic conferences.
Thursday Cultural Events
Every Thursday evening during the semester, a variety of high-quality cultural events – concerts, dramatic plays, film and opera, etc. – are performed at the POSTECH Auditorium.
- As a stage for culture & art created by POSTECH, a variety of genres including various concerts – symphony, ensemble, pop music and dance, Gukak (Korean traditional music), opera, drama, film and cultural lectures are shown every Thursday evening throughout the year.
- The nation’s top artists and speakers have been invited to the POSTECH Auditorium’s stage. These events have won nation-wide acclaim and have become popular and well-acknowledged as a stage any artist wishes to stand on once in his or her career.
- As an enjoyable, cultural space for all university members and local citizens, as a stage of creation and presentation for artists, these events direct existing commercial culture into public culture.
The POSTECH Orchestra was founded in February 2006 in an effort to cultivate an emotional, artistic outlet for university members who are devoted to their study and research and contribute to the formation of POSTECH’s unique culture that combines science and music.
Centered by the student members of the on-campus classical music club, “HanUlLim,”the POSTECH Orchestra is made up of POSTECH faculty members, staff and researchers. It is led by Professor Dr. Jung Ki Kim in the Division of Humanities & Social Sciences, who as a director and advisor, has offered guidance to “HanUlLim” since its early days at POSTECH.
Music Festival & Academy with Maestro Nanse Gum
POSTECH has been inviting Maestro Nanse Gum, a world-renowned musician and the Euro-Asian Philharmonic Orchestra every summer for an annual classical concert since 2009. The Music Festival provides the local community and campus members with an opportunity to enjoy great performances and enrich their cultural experiences.
POSTECH Volunteer Activities
POSTECH’s most noble founding principle and mission is to become a University that will serve the nation and humanity. The mission is also the obligation of POSTECHIANs. For students to realize and exercise their mission – to cultivate their natural talent and to make the world a better place – and to grow as true global leaders, POSTECH runs a variety of volunteer service programs.