Dean Hinks Looks to the Future of Textiles During the Korean Fiber Society’s 60th Anniversary Conference
By Kamilah Heslop
Did you know that in Korea turning 60 signifies the completion of a full life cycle?
For David Hinks, however, it was just the beginning of a journey that led him to attend the Korean Fiber Society’s 60th Anniversary Conference — more than 7,300 miles from Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Being able to celebrate 60 years of the Korean Fiber Society was incredible,” says Hinks, who serves as the dean of the Wilson College of Textiles and the Cone Mills Distinguished Professor of Textile Chemistry. “I congratulate my peers on their journey thus far and wish them the very best for the next 60 years. With nearly 50 Wilson College alumni living in South Korea, I was fortunate to reconnect with many of them this spring and forge new partnerships during the society’s 2023 conference.”
Against the backdrop of Jeju Island’s rugged coastline and stunning landscapes, more than 300 faculty members, graduate students, industry professionals and entrepreneurs gathered to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Korean Fiber Society.
I congratulate my peers on their journey thus far and wish them the very best for the next 60 years. With nearly 50 Wilson College alumni living in South Korea, I was fortunate to reconnect with many of them this spring and forge new partnerships during the society’s 2023 conference.
— Dean David Hinks
The society, which was established in 1963, has a long and proud history of advancing textile engineering and fiber sciences. Its innovation in technical textiles, fiber sciences, apparel and fashion has helped propel South Korea to have the 10th largest economy in the world. In 2022, South Korea exported $12.3 billion worth of textiles and apparel, according to a report by the Korean Ministry of Trade Industry. Members of the Korean Fiber Society have significantly contributed to forming a foundation for South Korea’s heralded “Miracle of Han River” economic development model during the last six decades.
During the Korean Fiber Society’s three-day conference, which took place from April 19-21, researchers presented new advances in fiber and polymer materials, nano-hybrids and composites, biomedical applications, virtual engineering, smart clothing and wearable technologies. The number of in-person presentations and poster papers was truly noteworthy.
“As we reflect on the past 60 years, we can take pride in the many accomplishments of the Korean Fiber Society and its members,” says Young Jin Jeong, president of the Korean Fiber Society and a professor at Soongsil University. “From the development of new materials and production techniques to the introduction of advanced technologies and automation in textile manufacturing, our society has played a vital role in shaping the industry as we know it today.”
Sharing his expertise as a featured speaker
Recognized as a global leader in textile education and an expert in color science and forensic textile chemistry, Hinks’ expertise led him to be selected as one of only three plenary speakers to present at the Korean Fiber Society’s 60th Anniversary Conference.
“It was only fitting that they invited Dean Hinks to hear his perspective on the next 60 years of fiber and textiles for both Korea and the United States,” says Moon W. Suh ’64, who is the college’s Charles A. Cannon Professor Emeritus.
Suh’s connection to the Wilson College of Textiles began in 1962 when he arrived in Raleigh as a graduate student. He went on to earn a master’s degree in textile technology in 1964, and today, he is proud to be the most senior Korean faculty member among his fellow Wilson College alumni. As the past president and an honorary member of the United States Fiber Society, Suh was overjoyed to travel from Raleigh to celebrate with his peers.
“Korea has benefited immensely from NC State graduates modernizing the textile and fiber industries over the past six decades, and our college’s graduates have forged Korea to become an economic superpower today,” he says. “The Korean Fiber Society is now looking forward to an immediate future of joint research, innovation and collaboration with the U.S., and especially with the Wilson College of Textiles.”
Wilson College alumna Jooyoun Kim ’05, a Korean Fiber Society planning committee member, echoed Suh’s sentiment: “Because the Wilson College of Textiles is the top-ranked textiles school, Dean Hinks quickly came to our minds to invite to present his outstanding work and perspectives for the future.”
During his engaging plenary session on April 20, Hinks spoke about the Wilson College of Textiles’ deep connection with the South Korean textile industry.
“We’ve had nearly 50 graduates in our master’s degree and Ph.D. programs who came from Korean universities, and this is a point of pride for us,” he said. “I’m pleased that so many of our graduates have become captains of the industry and leaders in academia in Korea.”
A spotlight was shone on two areas during his plenary: the importance of sustainability in the textile industry and the critical need for international collaboration.
“I urge you to think about what your vision, mission and strategy is for your department or university with respect to textiles and sustainability,” Hinks said on April 20. “The Wilson College of Textiles has aligned our research and innovation activities with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.”
Hinks underscored how the college’s alignment with these goals provides the framework for domestic and international collaboration. This can be seen in the newly-established educational network between the Wilson College of Textiles, Catawba Valley Community College, Gaston College and the Central American Technological University (UNITEC) in Honduras.
Imagine we worked in harmony to ensure that these partnerships were dedicated to sustainable textile development and the improvement of each nation’s local textile workforce and existing infrastructure.
— Dean David Hinks
During his presentation, Hinks also explored how collaboration will drive the textiles industry forward to touch the lives of everyone, from small children who have just learned to tie their shoes to those celebrating their 100th birthday.
“Imagine over the next 60 years, the United States and South Korea, with our allies in Europe and around the world, we build a new and much stronger international network of industry, government and academic partnerships,” Hinks mused before closing his presentation. “Imagine we worked in harmony to ensure that these partnerships were dedicated to sustainable textile development and the improvement of each nation’s local textile workforce and existing infrastructure.”
As heads nodded enthusiastically around the room, it’s clear that conference attendees agreed with Hinks: this is a future that everyone could rally behind.
Wilson For Life: From Raleigh to Seoul
During his time in South Korea, Dean Hinks couldn’t have been prouder of the amount of Wilson Wolfpack spirit that he saw.
Over 40 alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the Wilson College of Textiles were present during his presentation and throughout the Korean Fiber Society’s conference.
Those guests and passionate alumni were also in attendance at the college’s reception for alumni and friends on April 18 in Seoul, which was co-hosted by Hinks, the North Carolina Textile Foundation, Professor Tae Jin Kang ’83, and Chairman Kihak Sung, who founded and leads the Youngone Corporation, which is a global manufacturer of outdoor and athletic clothing, textiles and footwear.
The generosity of Chairman Sung and Professor Kang, who have been dear friends since high school, made this special event possible. Kang, an esteemed graduate of the Wilson College, graduated in 1983 with his Ph.D. in fiber and polymer science and now serves as professor emeritus of engineering at Seoul National University and is an advisor to multiple government and industry agencies in Korea.
Everyone who spoke with Professor Kang on April 18 could see the pride for his alma mater radiating from him. He enjoyed teaching his fellow alumni and industry partners how to make the “wolfie” hand sign — by joining their ring finger, middle finger and thumb together.
By the end of the evening, Chairman Sung had it down.
It was truly inspiring to connect with so many fellow alumni and esteemed partners from Korean-based textile corporations who share our passion for this industry.
— Professor Tae Jin Kang ’83
“As a proud graduate of NC State’s Wilson College of Textiles, I was filled with immense pride to witness the same unwavering enthusiasm among all the guests at our reception,” Kang says. “It was truly inspiring to connect with so many fellow alumni and esteemed partners from Korean-based textile corporations who share our passion for this industry. Through our collective efforts, we can appreciate the profound impact of textiles on both domestic and global scales, and continue to drive innovation and growth for years to come.”
During the reception, Chairman Sung reflected on his connection to the college during his remarks: “I want to express my thanks to NC State’s Wilson College of Textiles for inspiring us within the textile industry, higher education and collaborative partnerships,” he said.
Another one of the event’s special guests was Chairman David Cho, who leads the Korea Dyeing and Finishing Technology Institute, commonly called DYTEC. Cho, who is the CEO of Buseong TFC and director of the Daegu-Gyeongbuk Textile Cooperative, proudly announced that his son, Seungwon, will join the Wilson College’s master of textiles program this fall.
“We can hardly wait to welcome Chairman Cho and his son in August,” Hinks shares, smiling.
Also in attendance at the gathering were two Wilson College of Textiles faculty members: Albert Myers Distinguished Professor B. Ellie Jin and Associate Professor Eunkyoung Shim ’01.
Professor Jin remarked on the impact of seeing such a strong presence from Wilson College alumni at the college’s reception and during the Korean Fiber Society’s annual conference.
“There is a large group of individuals who graduated from the Wilson College of Textiles who are leading the textile industry as well as higher education in Korea,” she says. “That legacy is an important part of our college’s history, and I am ecstatic to see it continue.”
As an alumna of the college herself, Associate Professor Shim has seen the power of a Wilson College of Textiles degree firsthand.
“During my time in Korea for the Korean Fiber Society’s conference, I enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and meeting other alumni,” says Shim, who earned her Ph.D. in fiber and polymer science from the Wilson College in 2001. “Even though I knew about the important contributions of our college’s alumni to Korea’s textile industry, I was still very impressed to meet so many of those individuals in person. I look forward to connecting with them and other supporters of our college in the future.”
Dean Hinks couldn’t agree more.
“Next year, our college will celebrate 125 years of textiles at NC State,” he says. “I hope many of the alumni, colleagues and friends I met in South Korea will be able to visit the college in 2024 to join the celebration. Also, I look forward to cheering on the Korean Fiber Society as the organization celebrates its 75th anniversary in 15 years. I can’t wait to see what has been accomplished by then.”
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