Waterloo signs MOU with Korean research institute

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Officials from South Korea and the University of Waterloo gathered today to formally launch what they hope will become a long-term research collaboration focused on modernizing manufacturing through the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

A delegation of almost 20 dignitaries from South Korea, including the mayor of the city of Changwon and the president of a large research institute, joined Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of the University, at a ceremony to sign a memorandum of understanding.

Officials at signing ceremony.

Feridun Hamdullahpur (centre), president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo, poses with Heo Seong-mu (left), the mayor of Changwon, and Choe Gyu-ha, president of the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute, at a signing ceremony.

“We consider this the beginning of a larger, deeper relationship,” said HJ Kwon, an engineering professor who is leading the initiative for Waterloo. “There is great potential to establish collaborations with other Korean cities and other research institutes.”

Earlier in the day, the South Korean dignitaries also attended a memorandum of understanding signing ceremony with the City of Waterloo to explore partnership opportunities between the two cities.

The visit by officials from Changwon, the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) and the Republic of Korea consulate in Toronto also included local tours of Google Canada, Communitech and the Velocity program at Waterloo.

The economy of Changwon, a city of more than a million residents, is anchored by heavy manufacturing in areas including shipbuilding, and the automotive and defense industries. KERI, a government-funded, 600-member institute dedicated to electrical technology, is located there.

HJ Kwon, a professor at Waterloo Engineering, socializes with dignitaries at a signing ceremony for the start of a research collaboration with South Korea.

HJ Kwon (left), a professor at Waterloo Engineering, socializes with dignitaries at a signing ceremony for the start of a research collaboration with South Korea.

The aim of the collaboration is to modernize Changwon’s manufacturing companies by leveraging the expertise of Waterloo researchers in AI, engineering and computer science. Robotics, automation and the Internet of Things are among the technologies they could introduce.

Also appealing to Korean officials, Kwon said, is the University’s track record of entrepreneurship, industrial collaborations and research commercialization.

The first project is scheduled to begin in January, and a joint research centre involving researchers at Waterloo and KERI is planned for a March launch.

“We expect this collaboration to be mutually beneficial, not only monetarily, but also in terms of knowledge and technology transfer,” said Kwon, a professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering.

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