About Tokyo Tech
About Tokyo Tech
Dr. Yoshinao Mishima was inaugurated as president of Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) on October 1, 2012. In this interview he talks about his background and the future of Tokyo Tech.
As a child I always loved baseball and put my whole self into it as a member of the baseball club at my integrated junior and senior high school. I have to say my priority then was baseball rather than studying. I was halfway through my high school years when I finally started really studying.
My enthusiasm for baseball still remains. I love watching games of all types in person and on TV. I enjoy watching amateur games played on a riverside baseball ground as much as Japanese professional or Major League Baseball games.
I matriculated at Tokyo Institute of Technology in 1969. It was an historical year because the Institute was blockaded due to a student demonstration. There were lots of student demonstrations in Japan at that time. The blockade was lifted in July and classes began in September
I majored in metallurgical engineering probably because both my father and grandfather were university professors in this field. I followed in their footsteps as the third generation to study metallurgy.
In retrospect, I was a typical Japanese undergraduate. I spent my time studying and working part-time as a private tutor or delivery person for the mid-year and year-end gift seasons. After the completion of my master's program, however, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of California. Despite having other options, I made this choice because I thought that leading the life of a typical Japanese might be boring and I wanted to be different. I also hoped to become proficient in English.
I stayed in the U.S. for about six years. I could have sought employment there, but I decided to come back when a former professor from my master's program offered me a position at Tokyo Tech, which was a rare and prime opportunity. I was 31 years old when I started working at the Institute as an assistant professor.
As my students and I were close in age, we enjoyed studying and socializing together. I came to see that I had made a really good decision in returning to Japan. I also found my calling in life here.
It is rewarding to accompany students on their personal paths as they gain experience and grow during their time at university. When they first enroll, students lack experience. But when they reach the time to present their graduation theses, I am always truly amazed by their intellectual and personal growth. I value their excellent theses as well as their enormous efforts.
Of course I experience satisfaction in publishing my own papers, but nothing beats the feeling I get when I see progress in students. My papers are not what I have accomplished, but what I have produced along the course of my career. Theses presentations, however, represent a milestone in each student's life.
Tokyo Institute of Technology is the best sci-tech university in Japan. Nonetheless, our community is not going to settle for being Japan's best, but is aiming to be the world's best in education and research. Tokyo Tech is striving to create a more international environment, where excellent students from all over the world can gather together for education and research and where more Tokyo Tech students will go abroad to study.
In this context, we have much work to do. We need to increase our infrastructure, such as the number of dormitories and the number of courses taught in English, and we must instill a sense of spirit and enthusiasm for global inquisitiveness in our students as well as give them the tools, including a high level of English proficiency, to excel as international students and researchers. This is not something that happens immediately. We will devise solutions to problems one by one in order to become the leading sci-tech university in the world.
Today we face various issues on a global level: the environment, energy, food, water, an aging society, health care, elder care and so on and so forth. For a sci-tech university they all represent research subjects. Therefore, we are the ones who will find the keys to the solutions. The role Tokyo Tech has played has never been as important as the one it plays today in the 21st century.
It is also important that we keep open channels of communication with the public in order to gain their understanding and support regarding what our research means to society and how Tokyo Tech has contributed to and will continue to contribute to society.
As a university highly acclaimed for the quality of its graduates and for its diverse contributions to the local community, the nation and the world, Tokyo Institute of Technology continues to be essential with the support of society.
I look forward to leading Tokyo Tech as it embraces the challenges of the 21st century with spirit, enthusiasm and confidence.
Published: October 1, 2012