Tokyo Tech News
Executive Vice President for Education Tetsuya Mizumoto led a 14-member Tokyo Tech delegation to ASPIRE Forum 2018, hosted by Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore from July 9 to 13.
Organized annually, the ASPIRE Forum brings together vice presidents, faculty and staff members, and students of the member universities in the ASPIRE League1 to strengthen connections, particularly in the areas of research and student exchange. The Forum encompasses a Student Workshop, a Symposium, and a Vice Presidents and Senior Staff Meeting.
A total of 60 participants from NTU, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Tsinghua University, and Tokyo Tech joined this year's forum, which focused on the theme "Smart Cities."
Five competitively selected Tokyo Tech students had the opportunity to participate in the Student Workshop and engage in a weeklong program of collaborative activities with 23 graduate students from ASPIRE League and IDEA League2 member universities.
The Tokyo Tech student delegates were:
The Workshop featured lectures, site visits, and group work based on the "Smart Cities" theme. The participants divided into five groups based on their research interests. Each group then selected one of six sub-topics — mobility, clean energy, home and environment, workplace productivity, health and enabled aging, and the public sector — to focus on for the duration of the Workshop.
Lectures focused on the digital innovations playing a role in Singaporeʼs transformation into a "Smart Nation." NTU researchers and Singapore government officials shared the latest research on IoT and AI technologies and described related applications to boost strategic national projects in Singapore. Visits to NTUʼs Robotics Research Centre, Smart Nation Lab, and Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous Vehicles, as well as the Changi Airport Living Lab, provided additional insights.
The student groups were tasked with considering, in the context of their group work theme, which technologies and policies could be applied most efficiently in the development of "smart cities." Drawing on group membersʼ own research backgrounds and analyzing information obtained through the lectures and site visits, the students worked together to develop proposals to be presented on the final day of the ASPIRE Forum.
Tokyo Techʼs Yushi Yamada, a masterʼs student in transdisciplinary science and engineering, was a member of the team awarded the judgeʼs prize for best group presentation. Focused on smart innovation in the public sector, Yamadaʼs group suggested a plan that uses IoT and multi-layered monitoring and control systems to improve efficiencies in water consumption at the city, community, and household levels in response to water management challenges in Singapore.
Yamada commented, "Under the ʻSmart Citiesʼ theme, we took various lectures and participated in site visits. One of the things I learned is how important it is to deal with water management issues using big data as urban populations continue to increase.
I would like to be a water engineer and challenge myself to utilize big data and AI to create efficiencies for future water distribution."
Recognized with the Best Presenter award, Yuxin Ji, a masterʼs student in architecture and building engineering, commented, "My overall understanding of smart cities-related research and problems is much deeper. I experienced great personal growth in my ability to work and communicate with people from different universities and different majors. It was an honor for me to win the Best Presenter award, and I owe it to our wonderful group work."
The student participants also attended the ASPIRE Symposium, where researchers from the five ASPIRE League member universities gathered to share pioneering research related to smart cities.
Tokyo Tech School of Computing Associate Professor Masamichi Shimosaka spoke on "Human Mobility Sensing Towards Urban Computing" and described his groupʼs research on predicting behavior and irregularities in urban environments based on analyses of activity data from crowds. Shimosaka and colleagues have proposed a new method to predict — a week in advance — irregularities such as unusually high concentrations of people in city areas that correspond to a low-frequency, large, planned event, such as a marathon. The group is also investigating how the method can be applied to predict irregularities related to sudden, natural events, such as torrential rains or earthquakes.
School of Life Science and Technology Professor Takafumi Ueno shared an update on joint research conducted under the 2017 ASPIRE League Research Grant, which is funded by Tokyo Tech. In collaboration with Ueno, co-researchers from Tsinghua University, HKUST, KAIST, and NTU are investigating functional designs of protein cages for sustainable bionanomaterials.
The annual Vice Presidents and Senior Staff Meeting (VPSSM) was held on the afternoon of July 12. Mizumoto and Vice President Hidetoshi Sekiguchi attended the meeting with the ASPIRE Secretariatʼs Hisakazu Mihara, Dean of the School of Life Science and Technology, and Tokyo Tech ASPIRE League operations team member Professor Miki Saijo of the School of Environment and Society.
At the meeting, Mizumoto was elected to succeed Vice President Alan Chan of NTU as the Leagueʼs Chairperson for 2019 and 2020.
"It is a great honor for Tokyo Tech to be able to host the ASPIRE Forum these next two years as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the League in 2019 and the hosting of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020," said Mizumoto.
A consortium of five leading science and technology universities in Asia, the ASPIRE League aims to form a hub for innovation in the region through the advancement of science and technology and the development of human resources. The League is comprised of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Tsinghua University, and Tokyo Tech.
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.