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Why the UIC Research Project is Recommended Despite Unprecedented Challenges

by Chiwon Lee (IID ‘17)


 I am Chiwon Lee, a graduating Senior at Yonsei University's Underwood International College (UIC). I majored in Information and Interaction Design, and I currently work as an experienced hire at LG International. I am also the only student to have been selected to participate in UIC Research Project (URP) Korea, and URP Global. URP is UIC's global research competition that was developed in order to promote real-world research experience by inviting students from multifarious disciplines to implement self-directed research in South Korea and other countries with the funding and support from UIC. Since its initial launching in 2013, URP has successfully enhanced the knowledge of its pursuers and its readers as the program enables original research that is usually an extension of learning gained from the classroom to be published and shared to the general public.

Before the advent of COVID-19, selected students of URP utilized the funding secured to pay for airfare, transportation fees, and accommodations. After the COVID-19 outbreak intensified in early 2020, UIC classes have been conducted online, and URP has not been an exception. URP Global 2020 was the first URP to be conducted completely online. I would love to share my unique experience of both participating in URP Korea 2019, which was conducted offline, and URP Global 2020, which was conducted online.

For URP Korea 2019, I conducted research on Social VR as a means to explore alternative means for team collaboration in the learning environment. My research was made possible by using the secured funding on transportation fees to interesting venues such as Seoul Innovation park and Google for Startups, subscription fees for digital tools to create VR prototypes, and gift certificates to compensate research interview participants. I enjoyed conducting research in person because I could capture a more comprehensive response of the interview participants by noting subtle facial expressions and body language while also evidencing how Social VR tools could be used in different public spaces.

Image of Chiwon's URP Global 2020 Research Brochure Cover 

For URP Global 2020, I partnered with Orein Jafter, a student and social entrepreneur from Zimbabwe, to develop a means to alleviate employment concerns in the post-pandemic era. The entirety of the research was conducted online, and the majority of funds were used to compensate interview participants and develop prototypes. The benefit of doing online research was that the saved time and funds on transportation could be used to build a more comprehensive prototype and garner more in-depth interview responses. I also evidenced how other participants opportunely invested more time into literature review and critical analysis to focus on research that could serve as an inspiration to guide future leaders in a confusing time.

 The successful operation of URP Global 2020 in the online environment truly showcases how UIC students are able to quickly adapt to shifting environments, and how the UIC curriculum have prepared students to find creative means to not only adjust, but to research creative means to tackle unprecedented challenges together as a community that accommodates a global student body. I hope that more students choose to participate in URP despite challenges such as online implementation due to the confidence I found through the rewarding experience I have had the honor to gain.

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