Tokyo Tech News
In March 2015, the Student Association for Global Exchange (SAGE) held the 6th Asian Students Collaboration Encouragement Program in Technology (ASCENT) at Tokyo Tech. Nineteen Asian students from four countries participated.
ASCENT is a short-term international exchange program organized mainly by students of SAGE. Held in Tokyo every March, the program aims to promote international exchanges and construct a sustainable network of Asian students in the science and engineering fields.
Each ASCENT has one theme which focuses on a serious contemporary issue in Asia. According to the theme, participants are offered company visits, laboratory tours at Tokyo Tech, and special lectures and speeches to learn about the challenges Asian countries are facing and Japanese technologies which could be applied to solve these challenges. There are two important outcomes of ASCENT. Firstly, students are given the chance to share their own suggestions in the form of final presentations. Secondly, students are able to develop a strong network among each other.
ASCENT aims to be a comprehensive program, not only focusing on academic but also cultural activities. Consequently, there are several events such as the cultural exchange party and Japanese culture tour to allow mingling with other participants and bridge cultural gaps.
The 6th ASCENT was held between March 13 and 23, 2015. The theme this year was the "Future Image of Energy." Energy issues in Japan and Southeast Asia were discussed from a variety of perspectives. Before the start of the program, the nineteen participants researched and analyzed the energy situation and challenges in Asia — mainly in their home countries of Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Throughout the program, the participants gained knowledge through company visits and keynote speeches, and then discussed solutions to energy issues in Asia. Based on analysis and discussion, the participants made their proposals for their "Future Image of Energy in Asia."
The 6th ASCENT included a keynote speech by a member of New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), and company visits to Neo-Morgan Laboratory, Toshiba Keihin Product Operations, and Tokyo Gas Yokohama Institution. These all provided good opportunities for the participants to think about the future of energy in three ways; learning the ongoing projects and prospects of major companies and research institutes in Japan, holding question-and-answer sessions with the researchers and engineers familiar with the energy situations in each field, and observing actual equipment and facilities used in research.
Half way into the program, Associate Professor Tom Hope of Tokyo Tech gave a special lecture about the key factors in an attractive presentation. The lecture had two parts. First, the participants were introduced to various presentation techniques and were shown the structure of an effective presentation. After this, they were given the chance to practice using these techniques in group presentations about the keynote speech and company visits they had experienced earlier. During this process, the participants got accustomed to the presentation methods which they would later utilize in the interim and final presentations.
Students were given ample opportunity for group discussion, helping them to deepen their thoughts and make what they learned in the study sessions more meaningful. Furthermore, interim presentations were held before the final presentations to allow students to share their own temporary conclusions and get constructive feedback from fellow participants, SAGE members, and the Tokyo Tech professor. With this feedback in mind, more effective final presentations were eventually given by each group.
Soon after the final presentations, an exchange party was held together with the audience and some staff members from the companies visited. Everyone seemed relieved and enjoyed the party, with some continuing the discussion on Asian energy issues and others putting serious conversations behind them.
In addition to academic activities, there were cultural activities. In the cultural exchange party, participants gave presentations about the cultures of their own countries. They enjoyed the traditional events, dance, and games famous in each country. Tokyo Tech students, for instance, held a tea ceremony for the overseas students. On the penultimate day, the students went on a Japanese culture tour, hiking up Mt. Takao together while further strengthening their relationships.
ASCENT has a good story behind it. I'd like to introduce it briefly. There is "Tokyo Tech-AYSEAS" (called "JAYSES" between 2007 and 2012), which is one of Tokyo Tech's short-term international programs in Southeast Asia. In past AYSEAS programs, some participant from Southeast Asia said, "I wish such a wonderful study program would be held in Japan..." Japanese participants in the program took note and established our association, SAGE. They then started organizing ASCENT. Because I joined JAYSES in 2012 and strongly wanted to create a wonderful opportunity in Japan for Asian students, I became a representative of the 6th ASCENT. This year, the participants are from six universities in four countries, including the Philippines, a newcomer to ASCENT. Even now, participants and SAGE members continue to keep in touch through SNS and email. I hope the international network of ASCENT in the future will be a strong one and continue even after we start work life.
SAGE is changing the ASCENT period from March to summer due to the changes in the semester system at many of universities in the ASEAN countries. The theme, the company and laboratory visits, and application information application are being prepared. Every student who belongs to a university in Asia can apply for ASCENT. The latest information can be found on the SAGE website and on the SAGE Facebook and Twitter accounts.
SAGE and Tokyo Tech hope more students will find their success on the next ASCENT.