The Mad Researchers
At the Center of Excellence Electronics (COEE), the clocks tick just a little faster than they do elsewhere. The researchers and applications engineers in Seoul, South Korea, develop new silicones for LEDs, cell phone displays and semiconductors – all markets that change at an astonishing pace and demand constant innovation. This means that Sang-Hoon Kim and Doo-Jin Kang sometimes work late into the night
with their colleagues when lab work is pressing. To WACKER staff in Seoul they are known as the mad researchers. “It’s pretty stressful,” Kang admits. “But of course it’s great when I develop a material that then actually makes it on the market.”
To their Korean colleagues, they are known as the “mad researchers” (from left to right): Dr. Sang-Hoon Kim, Dr. Kyu-Ha Chung and Mr. Doo-Jin Kang. They do research on silicones for the electronic sector.
Doo-Jin Kang, a chemist previously employed by Samsung, has been with WACKER for six years – longer than most of his eight coworkers in the lab. Most of his fellow team members have only worked for a few months at the high-tech laboratory, which began operations in 2012.
At 40 years old, Sang-Hoon Kim is the oldest member of the team. “Except for Dr. Chung, of course,” the engineer says with a giggle. Dr. Kyu-Ha Chung, his boss, is one of the absolute experts in silicones for the electronics industry. And because he knows that speed is one of the deciding factors for new developments, he pushes the team hard. They may grumble, but they know he’s right. And, according to Kim, they appreciate the fact that working in the WACKER lab opens up a world of knowledge in many different fields. “I’m always working on two or three projects at the same time,” the developer remarks.
Yet their fast pace is not the only success factor. The COEE team follows its goals unanimously. Team spirit plays a central role. Eating lunch together is a ritual for the young COEE team. Usually they go as a group to one of the many cafés or restaurants that have set up shop in the fashionable office buildings in Pangyo, the Korean equivalent of Silicon Valley. Sushi, burgers, pasta or Korean cuisine – there’s a lot to choose from. And sitting alone at a table would not occur to any of the team members.
They even frequently spend their free time together, going to karaoke, the sauna or a bar. WACKER team members occasionally go to the movies together, and in the winter they take team ski trips. There are quite a few ski areas in the hilly country surrounding Seoul, and these can easily be reached for day trips, says Kang, who trades in his job as a chemist for a completely different role on these outings: ski instructor for his colleagues.