About Tokyo Tech

2017 Spring Entrance Ceremony for master's and doctoral program students

2017 Spring Entrance Ceremony for master's and doctoral program students

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) 2017 Spring Entrance Ceremony for master's, professional master's, and doctoral degree students. We are honored to have members of the Board of Directors, deans, directors, and special guests with us to celebrate all the new students joining us today. You have worked hard to be here, and you should be proud of your achievements. Let us also congratulate your parents, and express our deep gratitude for the time, effort, and resources they have dedicated to your life and academic success thus far.

Through your scholastic attainments, you have all demonstrated that you are ready to reach new heights, and broaden your horizons. You are ready to take on the challenges that Tokyo Tech's graduate-level education and cutting-edge research have to offer. You are ready to engage with your labmates and academic supervisors in a friendly, competitive environment. And most importantly, you are ready to experience the genuine thrill of discovering new knowledge.

Last year, Tokyo Tech Honorary Professor Yoshinori Ohsumi received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The professor's discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy, the degradation and synthesis of cellular proteins, were the result of 30 years of passion to elucidate the details of an essential life phenomenon. Although the professor did not focus on the "practical purposes" of his research when he began, the consequences today are immeasurable. I suspect there are many men and women in front of me here, who are working on truly fundamental research like Professor Ohsumi, or who plan to do so in the future. I hope his story inspires you to continue with your efforts, for they are of the greatest significance.

In addition to highlighting the importance of fundamental research, Japan's 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan, launched in April 2016, also draws attention to the constant need for applied research. Two key components in the Plan particularly emphasize this need. The first of these is responding to current economic and societal challenges. Specifically, these include securing a stable supply of energy, food, and other resources, realizing a sustainable society that meets the needs of a declining and aging population, and responding to global warming and climate change. More than ever, the world is looking to science and technology for solutions to these universal challenges.

The second component is the creation of new value that gives birth to innovative industries and societal change. As networks and cyberspace rapidly develop with the evolution of information technology, and societal, economic, and industrial structures fluctuate, we must enhance fundamental technologies and innovate to boost Japan's industrial competitiveness and achieve sustainable development. This requires the creation of new networks by combining various existing technologies, and the generation of new concepts by fusing the real world with the virtual one. Many of you will be involved in advancing this type of applied research, too. Whatever your focus, I hope that you all take this opportunity to collaborate actively with researchers across disciplinary and geographical borders, and apply out-of-the-box approaches that yield new ideas and knowledge for the betterment of society.

When I assumed the office of president in fall 2012, I set the goal of making Tokyo Tech one of the top ten research universities in the world by 2030, a year shy of the Institute's 150th anniversary. A key to achieving this goal is the new education system and research structure implemented in April 2016, which provide all of you with more opportunities to achieve excellence. Your advanced abilities in your chosen specializations will be enhanced with a comprehensive liberal arts education. You will have more chances to improve your communication skills, enabling you to deeply understand and work with individuals in different cultures and fields, and confidently tackle global issues. You will be equipped with the tools to actively contribute to the world and exercise your leadership. Whether you are here to unveil the complexities of an unknown phenomenon or apply your research to a pressing societal problem, the open Tokyo Tech environment is yours to exploit.

Many of you entering master's and professional degree programs will be starting work life in two years. As you equip yourself with advanced skills and knowledge, I encourage you to envision yourself in your ideal field of work two years from now. Rather than simply thinking of your Tokyo Tech research as a requirement for graduation, consider it a way to acquire the skills you need to make a lasting impact on society. The various industries you will join after graduation will greatly benefit from your unique perspective, and your ability to effectively communicate that perspective to others. I have no doubt that all of you, as Tokyo Tech students, will embrace the toughest of challenges with spirit, enthusiasm, and confidence as you progress towards your future careers.

Those of you entering doctoral programs today: I am looking forward to seeing you engage in world-leading research in your chosen fields. You possess the dedication and awareness to conquer the highest peak of education at Tokyo Tech. Hold those qualities close to your heart as you continue tackling the most complex of problems. I believe many of you already have a good idea of the direction you wish to take after completing the program. There are many choices open to you. You may choose to pursue forefront research at a university or research institution, boost Japanese industry through a career in engineering, or establish new industries as an entrepreneur. Regardless of your choice, a doctoral education at Tokyo Tech will not only provide you with the most advanced technical skills, but also a rich sense of humanity required of leaders who are admired and respected by those around them.

Lastly, I ask you all to boldly explore. Explore various fields, cultures, and languages. Explore the unknown. Explore yourself and the potential within you. Do this, and you will not only have a fulfilling Tokyo Tech life, but will also shine on the world stage.

Once again, congratulations to all of you.

April 4, 2017
Yoshinao Mishima
President, Tokyo Tech