Professor Zeungnam Bien, also known as, ‘Father of Korean robots’ passed away on 23rd February, 2017 at age of 74.
He received bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Seoul National University and received MS and Ph. D of Electrical engineering and MS of Mathematics from University of Iowa. He came back to Korea at 1977 and became a professor of Electrical engineering at Korea Advanced Institute Science and Technology (KAIST). As a professor at KAIST until 2009, he was the head of electrical engineering department for 3 times, chairperson of faculty council, executive of dean, director of industrial management research. After that, he moved to UNIST and became an honorary professor.
Professor Zeungnam Bien devoted his life to research and education of system control, soft computing, and rehabilitation robot field. In addition, he wrote 314 journal papers, 534 conference papers, 22 patents, 5 books and cultivated 64 Ph.D. students and 117 MS students. He was one of the leaders who led the age of intelligent system in home appliances by inventing fuzzy washing machine, neuro fuzzy air-conditioner, artificial intelligence vending machine etc. through fuzzy theory. In addition, he studied new technology combining robotics on social welfare and rehabilitation welfare to enhance disabled, seniors’ quality of life. Moreover, he succeeded the localization of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, which were all import-dependent. By localization, he contributed to industrialization of science technology by getting 30 million dollars import-substituting effect yearly and 50 million dollars actual exports yearly.
On these achievements, he got achievement award from World Automation Congress in 2002 as a first Korean. Besides, he got academic award from Korean Institute of Electrical Engineering and The Institute of Electronics and Information Engineering, Minister award from Ministry of Science and Technology, etc.
Professor Zeungnam Bien not only left achievements academically but also contributed to developing national scholar by being the chairperson of The Institute of Electronics and Information Engineering, Korea Robotics Society, and Korean Institute of Intelligent Systems and a life member of National Academy Engineering of Korea, The Korean Academy of Science and Technology. He also showed his monumental leadership by being the head chief of International Fuzzy Systems Association in 1993.
Professor Zeungnam Bien, who is global savant of robotics and leader of Korean robotics, emphasized that ‘For Korea to become powerful nation of intelligent robots, we must focus on developing robotic systems and software technology.’ He also advised his students to ‘always bump against the center’ and taught his students that ‘it is an obligation for engineers to invent what others need’. Professor Young-Jae Bien of UNIST, who is the son of Professor Zeungnam Bien reminisced his father, “he was my role model who guided me the way of scientist”. Professor Zeungnam Bien’s disciple Young-Jo Cho, who is the president of Korea Robotics Society said, “He was strict in the laboratories, but he was a warm-hearted person outside the laboratory.” Besides, Professor Zeungnam Bien was talented in not only engineering but also in writing, composition, ensemble, painting etc. Professor Zeungnam Bien’s remarkable humane, academic trace will shine eternally within us.