A time to make friends at PTB
By April 2017, Dr. Jeon from the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS) will have been a guest at PTB for a period of five months. KRISS is a national metrology institute (NMI). Dr. Jeon studied physics and business administration. He has now been working at KRISS for over 30 years. He is in the Policy Department and deals with general NMI tasks.
Dr. Jeon arrives perfectly prepared for our interview. Behind his reserved appearance, he is very warm and shows much enthusiasm for his field of activity. »Dr. Jeon, what are you actually doing at PTB?« – »I am trying to answer a question: ‘What is the desirable role and what are the activities of an NMI within a national quality infrastructure?’ I am studying and comparing the tasks of PTB in Germany and those of KRISS in Korea. Based on my results, I am developing a general model showing which roles and activities a country’s NMI should fulfil.«
»Is KRISS very different to PTB?« »In contrast to Germany, there are no Designated Institutes in Korea so that KRISS covers all areas of metrology. However, KRISS does not perform type approvals and conformity assessment activities. In Korea, other agencies deal with legal metrology. The premises of KRISS are half as big as those of PTB. Approximately 440 staff members work there. Our annual budget amounts to 135.3 million US dollars.« With modest pride, Dr. Jeon talks about the KRISS football team: »In most of our matches, the KRISS football team is said to be a strong team. We often play friendly games with foreign NMIs like China’s NIM, Vietnam’s VMI and the Mongolian MASM.«
»What do you like best about your work here?« »My research work allows me to keep in touch with specialists in the most diverse fields. It is a pleasure to meet various experts at PTB and to get to know new fields of work: for example, the recognition of type approvals/test results, calibration and legal metrology. I am able to work in a research environment which ensures individual autonomy. I was actually amazed at how enthusiastic people are about their work at PTB. There are employees who are already working hard at six o’clock in the morning. At KRISS, people from other countries like Vietnam, Mongolia and Egypt are doing research. When I return to KRISS, I would like to pass on some of the cooperative spirit I have experienced at PTB.«
Dr. Jeon is nevertheless facing some difficulties at PTB, although he is taking German lessons every Thursday: »Unfortunately, most of the material is in German, and I have difficulties in reading it. For my research work, it is important to exactly understand PTB’s internal processes. Therefore, I usually use Google Translate. Interestingly, the English translations seem to be much better than the Korean translations.«
»Is working at PTB still what you expected it to be?« »There are so many differences between the way that PTB presents itself externally and what it actually does. I believe that PTB is much more involved in cooperating with accreditation bodies, international activities and emerging economies than you see on the Internet.«
Dr. Jeon has not yet experienced culture shock – although he has already seen quite a bit of local Braunschweig culture as he accidentally came across Braunschweig’s Carnival.