About Tokyo Tech

President's Address at the Undergraduate Spring Entrance Ceremony 2013

President's Address at the Undergraduate Spring Entrance Ceremony 2013

On this joyful occasion for the Tokyo Tech community, we gather here today in the presence of our distinguished guests and the Institute's members of the Board of Directors, deans and directors, to conduct the undergraduate spring entrance ceremony for academic year 2013. Today, 1,108 new students enter our undergraduate program. First of all, I would like to congratulate all of you who are entering today. Tokyo Tech offers you a heartfelt welcome, and we also want to express our profound respect to your family members who have supported you in your studies up to this point.

You have broken through the difficult barrier of entrance examinations and achieved admission to Tokyo Tech. This, however, is the start of a new challenge. I hope you will begin your life here at Tokyo Tech with a vision for your future and hope in your heart.

Tokyo Tech has three undergraduate schools: the School of Science, the School of Engineering, and the School of Bioscience and Biotechnology. Each school is further broken down by specialty into different departments. You have entered Tokyo Tech in one of seven academic groups and will begin with basic courses before joining a department where you will gradually specialize. Beyond that, in graduate school, Tokyo Tech effectively has seven graduate schools. It is a distinctive characteristic of Tokyo Tech today that 90 percent or more of our students who graduate from one of our undergraduate schools go on to graduate school.

The stance taken toward studying at university will be very different from the stance you have been taking in your studies at high school up to now. What you have been doing so far is taking part in classes and exercises according to set schedules. This was so that, as people with boundless possibilities for the future, you could acquire the basic academic skills that would be required in your lives ahead. In that sense, your stance in studying has been passive, as a whole. The choices you made about advancing to study at university were choices of whether to pursue the sciences or the humanities, and what courses you would need to take and to what level, in order to meet the requirements at the university of your choice. To do this you took mock examinations and worked at answering and analyzing questions from past tests at the university of your choice. Most of what you have been doing, therefore, was studying based on checking your answers against known correct answers.

Now, since you chose the sciences, you are at Tokyo Tech. You will be in the academic group you chose at the time of your entrance examination. From your second year you will advance and belong to a more specialized department. The basic courses during your first year will not differ that much from your high school days, in that the format will include lectures and exercises. The important thing about studying now, however, is that you will be doing it in order to choose your specialty in your second year. You will need to acquire the basic capabilities required to belong to the department you wish to join. In other words, your purpose will not be to simply meet the requirements for advancing to the second year. This stance will become even more important in the third and fourth years, as your studies become increasingly specialized. The stance taken toward studying at university is one of thinking about what field you will choose as your specialty and what role you will play when you go out into the world, while simultaneously acquiring the competencies you will require for your future work. What will be important will not be what you will be taught, but rather setting your objectives and thinking and deciding for yourself what you will study in order to achieve them.

At the same time, science and engineering employees are being called on now to lead and play various roles on the international stage. This has to do with the way that human activities are now transcending national boundaries and expanding on a global scale. In other words, joint work by people of differing cultures from around the world has become necessary in this global society. This is because solutions to environmental and energy problems, food problems, problems concerning health care in aging societies, and of assuring quality of life to elderly people, and other such problems that are now faced by our global society, will depend largely on advances in science and technology.

More specifically, global human resources who can pursue activities in the larger world are required for the global deployment of manufacturing plants and business establishments. Japanese corporations need to be a part of this globalization in order for them to maintain their international competitiveness. In order to meet these expectations, what you will need is a solid fundamental grasp of your specialty. It will also be important for you to enhance your degree with education in the liberal arts and social sciences. This is important both to give you pride in the culture of your own country and to enable you to better understand other cultures. Tokyo Tech offers a full complement of humanities and social sciences courses for this reason. We have developed an environment in which you can learn about the things in which you have an interest and about which you want to acquire more knowledge.

What will be most necessary for you as you go forward, however, is language ability. The stage on which you will play out your future is the world. In order to communicate in English, it is imperative that you meet the necessary conditions of attaining high scores on the TOEIC or the TOEFL which are internationally accepted tests. Tokyo Tech has the framework in place to enable study for that purpose. I want you to make a serious effort on these tests so that you will have scores you can be proud of by the time you graduate. But just obtaining high scores on tests is not sufficient to ensure your success in your specialty on the international stage. You will have to become accustomed to asserting yourself and engaging in discussions in English. More than anything, the training needed for this is experience in other countries. Tokyo Tech has a full range of options for experiencing other countries, starting with study abroad. We also have numerous options for financial support. One year or so of study abroad will be extremely beneficial to you in your life ahead. However, using summer vacation to attend summer school at a university in another country is also a very important short-term experience. I urge you by all means to take advantage of this kind of opportunity early on in your undergraduate program.

As I go on talking to you in this way, it must sound as though you are being told to do this and do that, and on and on. I will reiterate, however, that the attitude of study at university is not to do what you are told, but rather always to maintain your desire to improve yourself, to create your own study plan for achieving your goals, and to put it into actual practice. My hope is that each and every one of you will build up your own basic competence in your specialty, including extracurricular activities in circles and clubs, and develop a richness of life and become internationally minded. I hope that you will lead a meaningful life here that involves a multitude of challenges, with confidence in yourselves as Tokyo Tech students and with enthusiasm for the task of improving your own capabilities.

I will conclude by extending to you again my congratulations on your entry to Tokyo Tech.

April 3, 2013

Yoshinao Mishima
President, Tokyo Tech