About Tokyo Tech

Interviews with students who will receive their Master's Degrees in March 2014

Learning Makes Dreams Come True

Three graduating students were interviewed in advance of the Master's Graduation Ceremony for the 2013 academic year. They spoke about their studies and campus life at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech).

Nguyen Phu Thang Department of Mechanical and Control Engineering, Graduate School of Science and Engineering

What led you to choose Japan and Tokyo Tech?

I am a Vietnamese, and was living in Vietnam until my graduation from high school. Because my high school was a long way from my house, a friend gave me a bicycle. This second-hand bicycle, made in Japan, never gave me any trouble on Vietnam's unpaved roads for three years. This impressive experience aroused my interest in Japanese Monotsukuri, the art of making high-quality goods, and encouraged me to learn Japanese technology. I came to Japan in 2006 and started a Japanese language course at a Japanese language school in Nippori. Among the seniors was a Tokyo Tech international student, who was a leader of the students at the Japanese language school. I admired him and wished to become a person like him. He made me seriously interested in learning about Monotsukuri and I decided to take the Tokyo Tech entrance examination.

During your time at Tokyo Tech, what experiences made the biggest impression on you?

I did a study on fuel cells in the laboratory of Associate Professor Kazuyoshi Fushinobu about the further development of advanced equipment in thermal and energy engineering. In the laboratory, the staff and students were free to give presentations when they archived a result in their studies. The opportunities for presentations on the same stage as university or corporate researchers motivated me, and participation in academic conferences was very useful for reviewing my study objectively. It also gave me a chance to have contact with other researchers. Additionally, the latest information about technology was introduced daily in classes at Tokyo Tech, and it inspired me to study more.

The beauty of the cherry blossoms at the time of the Entrance Ceremony is another impressive memory. Although some flowering peach trees bloom in Vietnam, I had never seen such beautiful cherry blossoms and was very impressed.

Can you tell me about your master's thesis?

Nguyen Phu Thang Department of Mechanical and Control Engineering, Graduate School of Science and Engineering

The topic of my master's thesis is "Oxygen Transport Resistance in Cathode Catalyst Layer of PEFC: the Effects of Ionomer EW1 and RH2." Although polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs), the hottest next-generation energy supply system, are increasingly applied in automobiles and home appliance products, further performance advances as well as research on the reaction and transport phenomena of substances in PEFC are essential for more diffusion. This study was performed to classify the oxygen transport phenomena in a catalyst layer. The findings revealed the effects of ionomer and relative humidity, which are physical property values of catalyst layer materials and an operational condition, respectively.

What are you planning to do after graduation?

I am going to work for an automobile-related company in Japan. I am interested in automobiles and machines, so it was good that I could find a job in a company in my favorite area. Many people have supported me throughout my eight years in Japan at the Japanese language school and at Tokyo Tech. I hope to work hard in Japanese society and show my gratitude.

Do you have a message for younger international students?

Tokyo Tech has a good learning environment for specialized areas, and fully supports students who do research in such areas including advanced technology. If you want to study Monotsukuri or technology deeply, I strongly believe that Tokyo Tech is the best university.

Study and research are important but there are many other non-academic activities at the university that involve getting together with students. When you actively participate in those activities and expand your world, you gain a lot of experience and create opportunities for yourself. The important things are that you make the most of studying in Japan and enjoy your campus life from a broad perspective.

1 EW (Equivalent Weight)

Mass of ionomer per mole of sulfo groups in the inomer

2 RH (Relative Humidity)

Relative humidity

Kei Ishiguro Department of Information Processing, Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering

What led you to choose Tokyo Tech?

In my high school days, I found myself uninterested in the arts and hoped to learn information engineering at a science and technology university. In searching for such a university at which to study information engineering in depth, I found Tokyo Tech. Many universities require students to take liberal arts courses upon entering and allow them to take specialized courses only in their later undergraduate years. However, Tokyo Tech combines the two from the very beginning with first-year students roughly divided by their specialized fields. They can begin studies in this specialized area from their first year while taking the required first-year liberal arts courses. This system appealed to me and encouraged me to take the Tokyo Tech entrance examination.

During your time at Tokyo Tech, what experiences made the biggest impression on you?

Kei Ishiguro Department of Information Processing, Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering

In the laboratory of Professor Keiji Uchikawa, I conducted a study to elucidate the visual information processing and recognition mechanisms involved in how the visual - brain system creates a "visual world" and put this technology into practice. There was an image in my mind of information processing as a "theory-based" field. After the study in the laboratory commenced, however, I discovered that information processing is an interdisciplinary field.

My motivation for research was "frustration." I took over and replicated a senior's experiment, but failed to produce the same outcome even though I attempted the experiment in several ways. I continued the research with feelings of frustration. There were some difficulties, but the continuity of study in a master's course and the "achievement of one thing" gave me confidence.

Can you tell me about your master's thesis?

With the theme "Contingent Color Aftereffects for Facial Expressions," I investigated the relationship in information processing between the facial expressions of the human visual system and colors, through psychophysical experiments.

What are you planning to do after graduation?

I am going to work for a communication-related company. Since the company has not yet informed me of my division, I have no idea about my job. However, I hope I can take advantage of my six-year studies at Tokyo Tech.

Do you have a message for younger students?

The men-to-women ratio at Tokyo Tech is 9:1. I had attended an all-girls junior high and high school for six years, so I was anxious about the completely different environment from these schools. Nonetheless, I managed to adapt to the new environment about one week after entering. Tokyo Tech is a male-dominated university in terms of the number of students, but I guess you can work it out once campus life starts [laugh].

There were many recruiting fairs for female students whose majors were in science and technology. I reckon Tokyo Tech is a female-student-friendly university in terms of recruiting.

Ryosuke Kojima Department of Computer Science, Graduate School of Information Science and Engineering

What led you to choose Tokyo Tech?

I studied in a science and technology track in high school, and wanted to learn either mathematical or information engineering. One day, I found an interesting book about the basics of information engineering, and decided that this is what I wanted to study.

The reason I chose Tokyo Tech from a wide range of universities was simply due to inspiration. I was inspired by the unique curved half cylinder exterior of the Museum and Centennial Hall, and perceived Tokyo Tech as a university with a free-spirited academic culture. This is the reason I decided to enter this university.

During your time at Tokyo Tech, what experiences made the biggest impression on you?

Ryosuke Kojima Department of Computer Science, Graduate School of Information Science and Engineering

I belonged to the laboratory of Professor Taisuke Sato and did a study to develop the programming and learning of integrated artificial intelligence. In the laboratory, I presented some papers including "Efficient Cluster Labeling Using Naive Bayes Models" with laboratory members.

Also, I investigated robot technology and helped build robots as my extracurricular activity in the Society for the Study of Robotics. The Society formed some groups to actively participate in several competitions including big contests like the NHK Robocon. However, I preferred creating what I liked rather than competing to determine the winner. For this reason, I created my own robots using software technologies to control them. I learned some useful expert knowledge about robots from senior graduate students in the master's and doctoral programs and came to view my six years in this activity as great fun.

Can you tell me about your master's thesis?

The title of my master's thesis is "Analysis of Sequential Data by Plan Recognition." The objectives of this study were to predict the purposes of site visitors based on their action histories and use the findings for improvement of the web page or others. The background of the study was that inexpensive mass storage devices and high speed computers enabled storage of a variety of histories and complex programming with probability and statistics, respectively. I expect that too-big-to-read historical data for humans can be used for a range of purposes through advances of this research.

What are you planning to do after graduation?

I am going to continue my studies in a doctoral program in order to do further research on artificial intelligence. Now that I have completed my master's and can start my doctoral program, I feel my life as a researcher has just begun.

Looking back at my past, I set a goal to become a researcher when I was a junior high school student. I pushed the wrong button in an elevator and instead of going up, I went down. I discovered that all elevators are not equipped with a cancel button. This experience triggered my desire to become a researcher and develop more convenient elevators. Research topics can be found in everyday questions and dissatisfaction with a variety of systems in this world. I wish to keep my dream alive and to continue studying and doing research with all my might.

Do you have a message for younger students?

The most attractive feature of Tokyo Tech is its free-spirited academic culture. Students with different ideas are admired, and there are many unique students, in the positive sense of the word. Opportunities to study with those students may open up a new realm. The world is full of questions. I hope prospective students of Tokyo Tech will not stop questioning everything in this world.

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