Tokyo Tech News
The Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Institute of Technology International Research Opportunities Program (TiROP) 2015 Summer Program was conducted on June 15.
Currently in its fourth and final year of funding through the "Re-inventing Japan Project," a mobility scheme under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), TiROP is a research-oriented cross-cultural leadership and educational program organized by Tokyo Tech and implemented in cooperation with 17 partner universities in the US, Europe, and Asia. Inbound and outbound students conduct lab research under the joint supervision of academic advisors at both their host and home universities. Participants benefit from the opportunity to establish networks with fellow students in the same field of expertise.
Fifteen participants attended the Opening Ceremony, where they were welcomed by Executive Vice President Toshio Maruyama and received a general introduction to the TiROP Summer Program by Professor Jeffrey Cross of the Graduate School of Science and Engineering. Based on study and research plans submitted prior to the program, each of the 19 students participating in the Summer Program is assigned to a Tokyo Tech research lab and conducts research under the guidance of a Tokyo Tech faculty member. In addition, each TiROP student is supported by a peer adviser from the same lab who provides assistance in navigating daily life in the lab and on campus.
While on campus, Summer Program participants may take courses for credit. These include:
Social and cultural opportunities such as rakugo storytelling in English are provided, and special lectures are also held.
Summer Program participants also have the unique option of participating in the Multidisciplinary International Student Workshop (MISW), organized by the Graduate School of Engineering. Associate Professor Takaaki Manaka presented the MISW at the Opening Ceremony to encourage TiROP students' participation. Summer 2015 is the seventh year of the workshop, which brings together Tokyo Tech's graduate students in engineering and exchange students participating in the Asia Oceania Top University League on Engineering (AOTULE) and TIER (CAMPUS ASIA and TiROP) programs. The MISW, designed to promote cross-cultural understanding via a research-based workshop, encourages innovation across disciplines. For those who participate, the workshop is one of the highlights of the TiROP Summer Program.
This year's Summer Program students represent the following institutions:
In the Opening Ceremony, each student shared a brief self-introduction and described his or her expectations for the program. Though few TiROP participants arrived on campus having studied Japanese, several of them introduced themselves using vocabulary gained through the Survival Japanese course.
The second half of the ceremony featured a special presentation by Professor Jan Van Maele from the Faculty of Engineering Technology at Belgium's KU Leuven. Van Maele spoke on "Developing Intercultural Competencies for Global Study and the Engineering Workplace," a topic of great relevance to all audience members. With reference to several studies on intercultural competence in the workplace, he suggested that students in engineering would especially benefit from activities to develop these competencies, since engineering education tends to promote ways of thinking that are meant to avoid uncertainty. As a means of building intercultural competence, Van Maele recommended employing the ODIS (Observe, Describe, Interpret, Suspend Judgment) method to avoid making incorrect cultural assumptions about unfamiliar behavior. He suggested that by doing so, individuals encountering "strangeness" will be more aware of their own cultural values and perceptions, and shift their frame of reference to one that is more empathetic to others and more tolerant of ambiguities and uncertainties.
Participants will make presentations of their research projects in the Summer Program's Closing Ceremony, scheduled for August 21.
This article has been updated to telephone number reviced on July 31.