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Faculty Focus: Professor Jung Hyun Kim

Each month, we highlight our talented faculty who continue to attract the best and brightest engineering students and whose insights and research keep us at the leading edge of innovation and discovery.  They are leaders in engineering practice, sought after by industry, government and the broader community.

Jung Hyun Kim

Director, Energy Innovation Laboratory

What is the focus of your research and why is it significant?

I direct the Energy Innovation Laboratory, located at NanoTech West, as part of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) and Energy Storage Hub in the Institute for Materials Research (IMR). In our laboratory, we focus on developing materials and systems that can innovate energy storage and conversion systems, including various types of batteries, fuel-cells and gas permeation membranes. We are motivated to define fundamental degradation mechanisms or limits of existing energy devices. Starting from this knowledge, we will establish a hypothesis based on fundamental electrochemistry, chemistry and mechanical engineering principles that can serve as a framework for innovating materials and systems. Then, we will examine these hypotheses by using multiple levels of experimental processes in our laboratory.

We are living in a generation experiencing a rapid paradigm shift of renewable energies. For example, wireless electronic devices relying on small batteries are indispensable in our daily life. Furthermore, we anticipate that electric vehicles with large batteries will be the mainstream in transportation. As a result, our research on improving existing battery performance or proposing future energy technology will significantly impact our society and people’s life patterns.   

Why should a prospective student consider mechanical engineering? What skills or background do you look for in a prospective student?

As one of the broadest engineering disciplines, mechanical engineering provides students diverse but deep engineering knowledge. Also, mechanical engineering has actively adopted new technologies in response to academic trends or industry needs and generated new curriculum, which will strengthen students’ expertise.  In connection with other engineering and science disciplines, mechanical engineering can be a home of multidisciplinary research, one of the main characteristics of emerging new technologies today.It is important for students to be passionate about their research interests because passion drives innovation.  At MAE, extraordinary faculty and state-of-the-art facilities motivate students’ entrepreneurial thinking.  We invite prospective students to visit and see for themselves!

What do you like most about your job?

After graduation from school, I missed working with students who are filled with energy and enthusiasm. I really enjoy being back in academia, communicating and doing research together with students.

What advice would you give students considering an engineering career?

“Engineering career” refers to countless professions relating to every technical and scientific aspect. It means that there is great opportunity, but at the same time, it is broad enough to get lost. Thus, I encourage students to find role models in terms of an engineering career and try to learn from them. I also recommend students get advice from faculty to help refine future career pathways.

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

I enjoy reading novels or watching movies or animation about Sci-Fi. My favorite novel is Robot by Isaac Asimov, and favorite movies are Blade Runner by Ridley Scott and Minority Report by Steven Spielberg. I am often fascinated in realizing that many depictions about future technologies in the past are actually happening now.