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Tokyo Tech delegation attends ASPIRE Forum 2016

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November 1, 2016

(From left) Executive VP Maruyama (Tokyo Tech), Former VP Yuan Si (Tsinghua) VP Joseph H W Lee (HKUST), VP Er Meng Hwa (NTU), and Associate VP Sung-Hyon Myaeng (KAIST)

(From left) Executive VP Maruyama (Tokyo Tech), Former VP Yuan Si (Tsinghua), VP Joseph H W Lee (HKUST)
VP Er Meng Hwa (NTU), and Associate VP Sung-Hyon Myaeng (KAIST)

ASPIRE Forum 2016, an annual event of the Asian Science and Technology Pioneering Institutes of Research and Education (ASPIRE) League1, was held from July 3 to 8, 2016 at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). Tokyo Tech is a founding member of the ASPIRE League, which includes Tsinghua University, China (Tsinghua), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU), Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), and HKUST.

Executive VP Maruyama explains ASPIRE League activities at Tokyo Tech in VPSS Meeting
Executive VP Maruyama explains ASPIRE League activities at Tokyo Tech in VPSS Meeting

Executive Vice President for Education and International Affairs Toshio Maruyama, Vice President for International Affairs Hidetoshi Sekiguchi, ASPIRE League Secretariat member and Dean of the School of Life Science and Technology Professor Hisakazu Mihara, and Professor Miki Saijo of the School of Environment and Society headed Tokyo Tech's delegation to the event.

As in previous years, the ASPIRE Forum 2016 was comprised of three main activities:

  • the Symposium, in which faculty members of the member universities shared research results in presentations on a given theme
  • the Vice Presidents and Senior Staff (VPSS) Meeting, which included the vice presidents' reports on student exchange and research activities at each member university and lively discussions on future ASPIRE League activities
  • the Student Workshop, a weeklong program attended by approximately five students from each member university

Associate Professor Ryo Murata
Associate Professor Ryo Murata

The theme for the 2016 forum was "Developing Sustainable Urban Environments and Low Carbon Economy." In a presentation for the Symposium titled "Architecture Responsive to Environment - Passive Solar Design in Tokyo Tech's Genso Cube," Associate Professor Ryo Murata of the School of Environment and Society introduced the eco-friendly features and design of the "Genso Cube" (genso meaning chemical element in Japanese), a building he designed for the Materials Research Center for Element Strategy on Tokyo Tech's Suzukakedai Campus.

The ASPIRE League has supported collaborative research between its member universities since 2011 with grant funding from Tokyo Tech. Through these grants, faculty members of Tokyo Tech, serving as principal researchers, lead joint projects with researchers from ASPIRE League member universities. Reports on the FY 2016 collaborative research projects were presented at the Symposium by grant recipients Associate Professor Nobutaka Nakashima of the School of Life Science and Technology and Associate Professor Tsuyoshi Michinobu of the School of Materials and Chemical Technology. Nakashima described his group's research aimed at gene discovery using environmental microbes, while Michinobu presented on his group's research on organic semiconducting polymers.

A total of 29 students — representing ASPIRE League member universities and the IDEA League2, a consortium of European universities — participated in the weeklong Student Workshop. Students attended lectures taught by HKUST faculty members and other experts and participated in site visits related to the theme of sustainable urban environment and low carbon economy. Visit sites included Green 18, a smart building with cutting-edge environmental technology located in the Hong Kong Science Park, and Mai Po Nature Reserve, located on the northwestern corner of Hong Kong, where students learned about the reserve's role in contributing to ecological protection in highly urbanized Hong Kong.

Student Workshop participants
Student Workshop participants

On the final day of the ASPIRE Forum, Student Workshop participants made presentations based on group work they had conducted throughout the week. The five groups pitched innovative technologies related to developing sustainable urban environments to an audience of the ASPIRE League member universities' vice presidents. Tokyo Tech students were among the teams recognized for "best innovative idea" and "best group presentation."

After the Student Workshop, a farewell ceremony was held for Vice President Joseph H K Lee of HKUST, whose two-year chairmanship of the ASPIRE League will conclude at the end of 2016. On behalf of the ASPIRE League Secretariat, Tokyo Tech's Maruyama and Mihara expressed appreciation for Lee's cooperation and leadership as the League's chair.

(From left) Professor Mihara (Tokyo Tech), VP Lee (HKUST), and Executive VP Maruyama (Tokyo Tech)
(From left) Professor Mihara (Tokyo Tech), VP Lee (HKUST), and Executive VP Maruyama (Tokyo Tech)

As a supplement to ASPIRE Forum 2016, host university HKUST arranged a special opportunity for the vice presidents and senior staff to visit its Shenzhen Industry, Education and Research Building. The HKUST Shenzhen Research Institute, which includes 10 laboratories, the HKUST Shenzhen Entrepreneurship Center, which includes 14 start-up companies, and 11 other companies are located in the building. The delegation visited the Shenzhen Research Institute's Laboratory of Molecular Neuroscience, as well as that institute's first venture, Googol Technology Limited, and the office of Da-Jiang Innovations Science and Technology Co., Ltd (DJI).

1 ASPIRE League

A consortium of five leading science and technology universities in Asia, which forms a hub for innovation in the region through the advancement of science and technology and the development of human resources.

2 IDEA League

A consortium comprising five science and technology universities in Europe: Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH Zurich), RWTH Aachen University in Germany, Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, and Politecnico di Milano in Italy.

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