Student Spotlight: Undergraduate researcher receives FLAS Fellowship to study in Korea


By Elise Reuter
Spring 2014

Sam Buchanan, an undergraduate research assistant for CReSIS, will depart for Korea next year to continue his studies. Buchanan, a senior electrical engineering major at the University of Kansas, received the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship for a full year of study through the U.S. Department of Education. He plans to study both Korean language and culture through Seoul National University, in hopes of pursuing a future career in electrical engineering in the country.

Sam Buchanan, recipient of the FLAS Fellowship is an undergraduate researcher at CReSIS and senior at KU. Photo by Vicky Diaz.

“I want to get my language up to a point where I can function in a workplace environment. If I can accomplish that, then I can get a job at a Korean company after I finish the year up,” Buchanan said. “It’s going to be a really big challenge, but that’s the kind of thing I really thrive off of.”

Buchanan has some previous experience with the Korean language, as he is finishing a minor in Korean, but still plans to work to overcome the language barrier. He hopes that by being exposed to the culture and the language on a daily basis, he will gain a working proficiency. He is also applying for an internship with Samsung, to build on his engineering experience while studying in Seoul.

“If I can accomplish that goal, get a job and work like that for a few years, I think I’ll be the better for it,” Buchanan said.

Currently, Buchanan is working with Dr. Zongbo Wang to measure and correct imperfections in antenna for the new CReSIS radar, which will be deployed to Greenland in August. The radar is the first of its kind in processing data at a high sampling rate, which is split up into parallel systems rather than using digital systems. Buchanan plans to apply the working skills he has gained through CReSIS to his studies in Korea.

“It’s a different application, going and studying abroad, but I think a lot of the work I’ve done as an engineer would translate into that,” Buchanan said. “I’m confident that I’ll be able to overcome the obstacles inherent in taking courses in another language just because I’ve learned so well how to work hard here.”

Sam Buchanan presents his work with radar at KU's 2014 Undergraduate Research Symposium.