Education and research center that can address any energy related issues
Energy is essential to our industries and society. We face numerous challenges: introduction of renewable energy to achieve a sustainable society, development of environmentally friendly production processes, development of technologies for advanced use of resources, and, most recently, the rapid proliferation of electric vehicles—all of which are directly connected to our lives. To tackle these challenges, innovative research and interdisciplinary studies are crucial. Among other things, it is urgent that we create and develop materials to become the basis of the creation, transportation, storage, and use of energy. We believe future high-level industrial professionals need to take initiative in solving complex issues that society may face in the future, not only through technical innovation of materials but also, as the core approach, through the creation of devices and systems, networking through IoT technology, and institutionalization using such technical innovation.
Based on this belief, we established our own nanotechnology research and education centers starting in 2000—for example, the post-lithium ion battery research center that uses nanomaterials—and we created opportunities for practical collaboration with society to train leaders in materials research. We are also nominated as the national research center for next generation electric power energy management systems in response to demand based on international standards. In terms of research, we have produced unique results, such as solar cells using silicon thin films successively formed with silica, next-generation voltage-regulation technology in power networks for including renewable energy power, and hydrogen-storing plastics that people can carry in their pockets. The Unit for Energy and Nanomaterials will continue to build on these existing achievements and address the complicated factors involved with global issues in order to realize sustainable and smart lifestyles.
Implementing Energy-Next Initiative
In 2012 we launched the Waseda University Leading Graduate Program in Science and Engineering as part of the Program for Leading Graduate Schools by the Ministry of Education to advocate Energy-Next—a pioneering initiative for energy creation, transportation, storage, and use. There we educate future global leaders who will support its research, development, and application. The Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering was established in 2014 and offers a five-year doctoral program (combining masters and PhD). It offers an enriching and unique curriculum including specialized lectures on energy science and engineering, discussion-based and practical seminars, scientific and technical English courses, and various internship programs.
Energy-Next focuses not only on large-scale production and optimization through improvement and reform, but also on a wide range of scientific fields that cover research on new energy resources, the combination of energy processes, and the use of bioenergetics sensing. The initiative places great importance on improving people’s ability to identify and solve problems by using backcasting in addition to a bottom-up approach. To implement this initiative, it is necessary to work internationally, to collaborate with top universities and research institutes, and to create a substantial curriculum.
We also have established the Joint Supervision Program (JSP) with Monash University (Australia), the University of Bonn (Germany), and Korea University (South Korea), which is a program where doctoral students are co-supervised by Waseda and partner university supervisors. In JSP, students can receive world-standard guidance from these universities. In 2016, three doctoral students became the first to complete the program, which is scheduled to be expanded to universities in the U.S. and Sweden. We have also introduced Joint Appointment (JA) for the first time in Waseda University. Leading professors have been recruited from all over the world to engage in classroom teaching, research guidance, special seminars, and scientific discussions—all of which are conducted in English. We have already welcomed faculty members from Case Western Reserve University (U.S.), Uppsala University (Sweden), and Italian Institute of Technology (Italy), and plan to appoint more overseas professors through the JA framework. These initiatives have received major support from leading domestic and international companies that are working with Waseda University. These efforts make Waseda University a place of learning that attracts talent from around the world while retaining the advantages of the Japanese education system.