——What is required of the Faculty of Science and Engineering in this era of change?
We live in an age of advanced information technology, and new IT-based services are being developed around the world every day. Unfortunately, Japan is lagging behind countries like the U.S. and China. In order for Japan to regain its momentum as a technologically advanced country, engineers and researchers will need not only knowledge, but also an international outlook and the energy to lead others. The Faculty of Science and Engineering, which will play a key role in the future development of Japan, strives to cultivate these three qualities in our students.
Of the three, the energy to lead others is the most important, and Waseda University students are well equipped in this regard. Both on and off campus, I have seen our students energetically leading their peers. Our faculty seeks to nurture this quality and helps you develop an international outlook and the ability to innovate so that you can someday play a role on the global stage.
——What is the Faculty of Science and Engineering doing to foster an international outlook?
As President Aiji Tanaka has expressed with the slogan “A Waseda that shines on the global stage,” our faculty is promoting internationalization to develop globally competent human resources. One such example is our English-based program. In addition to the September intake of international students, we have also been accepting students who graduated from Japanese high schools in the April intake from 2018. With the increase of students studying in this program, I feel that we are making great progress.
Our next challenge is promoting more exchange between the international students enrolled in this program and the Japanese students. Our goal is to create a campus environment where Japanese students can interact with students from many different countries, while international students can immerse themselves in Japanese culture. As part of Waseda Vision 150, we also aim to provide the opportunity for all students to study abroad. Additionally, students are encouraged to participate in international conferences, present their research papers, and take advantage of various other opportunities to gain an international outlook.
——On the other hand, what are you doing to acquire cutting-edge knowledge?
In order to acquire cutting-edge knowledge, the most important thing is for students to develop research skills. The Waseda Research Institute for Science and Engineering has established seven research initiatives to promote contract and joint research with other universities, companies, and public institutions around the world. We also offer the latest facilities to create an environment conducive to research. Waseda University has established seven model units under the Top Global University Project: Waseda Goes Global* plan, and three of these are in science and engineering fields.
We have ample opportunities to get involved in international research projects. Our challenge will be to make these opportunities available to all researchers in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. To lay the groundwork for this, we will promote collaboration both inside and outside the university and facilitate external funding opportunities.
* Waseda Goes Global – a plan to build a worldwide academic network that is open, dynamic and diverse. It is part of the Top Global University Project initiated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan.
——What is the appeal of the Faculty of Science and Engineering?
As a faculty member, I have always felt it very easy to collaborate with people here. Collaborative research across laboratories is a given, and there is a culture of sharing and learning from each other.
The Faculty of Science and Engineering has three schools: The School of Fundamental Science and Engineering, the School of Creative Science and Engineering, and the School of Advanced Science and Engineering. However, there are no barriers between schools. While they each have their own policies and specialties, they also synergize and draw on each other’s good points. By working together, our output is much greater than the sum of our parts. I feel that this a big draw for our faculty.
Collaboration remains essential for the future of science and engineering. Vital technologies such as IoT and AI are relevant to every field. Instead of only delving deeply into a single field, engineers and researchers must collaborate with other fields to keep up with the changing times. At our university, we are fortunate enough to have staff, students, and alumni from a wide variety of professional backgrounds. I am confident that any student who can take advantage of our collaborative culture will produce world-class results.
Our faculty was originally founded as a school that combines science and engineering. Our founder, Shigenobu Okuma, felt that these two fields should not be separated, and this belief is in line with our philosophy today. The idea that science and engineering are interrelated disciplines that develop together has been in place since our founding.
——What are your ambitions as Senior Dean of the faculty?
The Faculty of Science and Engineering accounts for approximately a quarter of the students and faculty staff at Waseda University. If our facility shines, then so does the university as a whole, and I would like to create the necessary framework to achieve that goal. The most important thing—my motto in fact—is to try and make everyone happy. I will do my best to create a comfortable environment so that students, faculty staff, researchers, and other members of the faculty can immerse themselves in research and learning.
——Please give us a message for those who want to join the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
As I mentioned earlier, our students, faculty staff, and alumni have a wide range of professional backgrounds. Our human element is outstanding, so if you dive right in, then you are sure to expand your world. Once you join a laboratory, you will get involved with other universities, companies, and public institutions through your research activities, and your world will expand even further. By engaging in research activities and experiencing the connection between your field and society, I am sure that you will find your passion.
The Faculty of Science and Engineering is always open to students with a desire to learn. Regardless of what year or course you are in, we encourage you to visit the laboratories that interest you. I entered Waseda University with the dream of building robots, and I managed to get started down that path by visiting the laboratory of the late Professor Ichiro Kato, a leading authority on robotics. The university has great resources, both in terms of personnel and facilities, so we encourage you to make use of them as you explore your interests and carve out a future for yourself.
As a countermeasure against COVID-19, the university is currently looking into new remote methods of holding lectures and devising ways of avoiding congestion and crowding to create a safe campus environment. On the other hand, hands-on experience is essential for studying science and engineering. You need to move things with your own hands and experience the results with all five senses, and that is not possible by simulation alone. Please rest assured that we will continue taking measures to prevent COVID-19 infections, while also providing sufficient opportunities for hands-on experience to ensure the quality of your studies.