August 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 4 
Main Feature

Child’s curiosity leads to lifetime pursuit of knowledge

For Hyoung-Man Kim, experimenting with tools, machines eventually led to work on NASA Systems and other Boeing programs

Hyoung-Man KimIn a small, family-owned factory that doubled as a playground, Hyoung-Man Kim’s love for structural dynamics was born.

Before he could read or write, Kim’s inquiring mind led him to experiment with the heavy tools and machinery in his family’s electrical manufacturing building behind their home in Seoul, Korea.

“Everyone in my family knew I was going to be an engineer even before I went to grade school,” said Kim, a structural dynamics engineer and now a Senior Technical Fellow for Boeing’s NASA Systems division in Houston. “As I became older, it was easy to make and repair model boats and airplanes, because I had all the ‘professional’ tools in our factory.”

It seemed like a natural fit when, several years later, Kim decided to study structural dynamics in graduate school. “I was intrigued by how a structure behaves differently when it is moving from when it is still,” he said.

Since then, his youthful fascination with structural behavior has never faded.

Kim is an internationally recognized expert in a wide range of areas relating to structural dynamics. He has published 63 technical papers, including 21 in national and international journals.

“I see respect for Kim and his work from colleagues across the United States and internationally, across disciplines and generations,” wrote Suzanne Smith, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Kentucky and a long-time colleague of Kim’s, in a letter recommending that Kim be selected as a Senior Technical Fellow. “He is a technical innovator, a leader and an outstanding individual.”

QuoteAs a chairman of the Structures and Mechanisms Analysis Leadership Council in NASA Systems, Kim has provided a forum to share expertise and experience with other Boeing sites. He also is a founder of the Houston Technical Fellowship Forum, the first known forum of its type, which adds value to Boeing by better utilizing, increasing and recruiting the skills needed for success.

In addition to the International Space Station, Space Shuttle, and Space Exploration programs in Houston, Kim has been supporting programs and proposals in IDS and also Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

He also currently leads the development and deployment of enterprisewide common model correlation processes and tools, sponsored by Phantom Works and Commercial Airplanes.

Kim’s advice to new engineers is pay attention to fundamentals, find and learn from a mentor, try to see the “big picture” beyond their everyday jobs, and seek ways to make continuous improvement.

Looking back on his career, Kim said one of the biggest challenges was adapting to a professional and personal culture and environment different from that of his Korean background. To help others make a successful transition, he has focused on diversity-related areas such as establishing the Houston chapter of the Boeing Asian-American Professional Association and serving as a member of the Houston Diversity Council.

“I want to help others so that they do not have to face the same problems I had and become successful faster and more effectively,” he said.

—Amanda Gray


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