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5th ASCENT report

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September 24, 2014

In March 2014, the 5th ASCENT (Asian Students Collaboration ENcouragement program in Technology) was held by SAGE (Student Association for Global Exchange), a student organization based at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech).

What is ASCENT?

ASCENT is a program held in Tokyo every March for the purpose of promoting international exchange, and for building a sustainable network of science and engineering students in Southeast Asia and Japan.

Every year, company and laboratory tours and special lectures are offered based on a particular theme. Students learn about advanced Japanese technologies which could be applied in Southeast Asian countries in the near future, engage in discussions, and give a final presentation about how the technologies could help solve related problems in those nations.

In addition to the academic fields at the center of the program, ASCENT also aims to build up a more robust and close network of Asian students through cultural exchange and social events such as a sightseeing tour of Kamakura and a farewell party.

The 5th ASCENT program

The 5th ASCENT took place during March 14-23, 2014 and this year’s theme was “Urbanization - Draw the future with your hands.” Students considered issues commonly associated with rapid economic development, such as waste and traffic problems.

Discussions were held about how the technologies and knowledge the students had learned through the tours and lectures could be applied to overcome the specific problems suffered by the cities of each country. Then, a final presentation was given on “The ideal city” drawn up by each group.

Schedule

March 14
Arrival and Welcome Party
March 15
Opening Ceremony, Cultural Exchange and Pre-study Presentation
March 16
Lecture and Discussion
March 17
Company Tour 1
March 18
Company Tour 2
March 19
Special Lecture, Presentation on Company Tour, Discussion and Lab Tour
March 20
Lab Tour and Discussion
March 21
Discussion, Final Presentation and Exchange Meeting
March 22
Sightseeing and Farewell Party
March 23
Departure

Welcome Party

On the night of arrival, a welcome party for the international students was held at a restaurant near the hotel. Self-introductions were made during the meal, starting the communicative exchange that would take place during the following ten days.

Visit to Companies

As part of the program, we visited four laboratories and companies over two days which contribute to the solution of urban problems in terms of traffic and waste: The National Institute for Environmental Studies, the Public Works Research Institute, the Railway Technical Research Institute and the Shibaura Sewage Plant. It was a good opportunity to see research and technology which applied to real problems faced by cities.

Special Lecture

We received a lecture on the methods and techniques for effective presentations by Dr. Tom Hope, an associate professor of sociology at Tokyo Tech. Following this, participants gave presentations in small groups on the “Facts obtained from the company visits.”

Visit to Laboratories

In addition to company visits, we had a tour of seven Tokyo Tech laboratories working on waste issues and transportation. By visiting these leading laboratories, participants were able to gain valuable experience and see the actual equipment used in research, and have question-and-answer sessions directly with researchers and engineers.

Discussion, Final Presentation and Exchange Meeting

An important part of ASCENT is having ample discussion time. This allows the participants to discuss what they learned from the field trips and lectures in order to gain a better understanding. On the 8th day, the participants were divided into four groups to give a final presentation. The theme of the presentation was “The ideal city,” and the participants effectively used their recently gained knowledge. Following the final presentations, an exchange meeting with Tokyo Tech students took place, allowing participants to discuss cultural differences between Japan and their homeland, how their governments are trying to solve urban problems, and ideas about the final presentations.

Culture Exchange Party

In this session, participant introduced their own countries culture for getting to know each other deeply. For example, Tokyo Tech students danced Soran Bushi (A Folk Tune). All participants do well-known game in both Thailand and Indonesia.

Sightseeing

In order to strengthen the relationships between participants, a sightseeing tour of Kamakura took place the day after the final presentation. Visiting historic temples, the students showed interest in Japanese religious culture and enjoyed trying traditional sweets and choosing souvenirs together.

Looking ahead to the 6th ASCENT

SAGE is planning to hold the 6th ASCENT during March 13-23, 2015. The theme of the upcoming program will be “Future Image of Energy.” Participants will examine existing energy problems from various perspectives. Not all discussions will be technology oriented, so all students from universities and colleges in Asia are welcome, regardless of their department or age.

Applications will be accepted from September, so please keep checking Twitter, Facebook, our email magazine or the SAGE website (see link below) for updates.

Join the 6th ASCENT and help build the strongest student network in Asia. This is a great opportunity to promote international activities such as studying abroad, volunteering and internships.

5th ASCENT student and faculty participants

5th ASCENT student and faculty participants

Contact
Leo Hiramoto
Chairman, SAGE
Email sage.tokyo.tech@gmail.com

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