Tokyo Tech News
Tokyo Tech chaired and hosted the ASPIRE League's annual ASPIRE Forum from July 8 to 12, 2019 at Ookayama Campus.
Established in 2009, ASPIRE League is a consortium of leading science and technology universities that includes 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.
This year marked the tenth anniversary of the League, which aims to form "a hub for innovation in the region through the advancement of science and technology and the development of human resources."
A total of 84 participants, including 31 students, from ASPIRE League and its European counterpart, the IDEA League,* joined ASPIRE Forum 2019. Delegations from each of the five ASPIRE League member universities included vice presidents, researchers, staff members, and students.
Focused on the theme Better Living: Innovations and Technologies to Improve Lives, the forum comprised a student workshop, a symposium, and the annual Vice Presidents and Senior Staff Meeting.
ASPIRE Forum 2019 kicked off with a student workshop involving lectures, site visits, and group work based on the Better Living theme.
Five Tokyo Tech master's students engaged in the weeklong program with 25 counterparts from ASPIRE League and IDEA League member universities.
Tokyo Tech's student participants were:
Tokyo Tech faculty members provided lectures for the student workshop. Associate Professor Takuji Yamada of the School of Life Science and Technology spoke on "Microbiome shift for colorectal cancer progression." Professor Koichi Yasuda of the School of Environment and Society described the history of industrial design from the perspective of bathroom design, and Professor Yukio Takeda of the School of Engineering shared ideas on the future coexistence of human and robots.
In addition, workshop participants participated in site visits around Tokyo, where they received hands-on access to the latest technologies related to better living. At NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories, students observed 8K Super Hi-Vision camera quality and experienced a 3D imaging system that made it to possible for them to view 3D images without using special glasses.
Touring Panasonic Center Tokyo, they learned about the digital art process and design of pictograms for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. They also observed exhibits of the company's latest technology for the home, including "smart" household appliances. At the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, or AIST, participants learned about R&D on prosthetics for competitive sports and examined technologies to prevent household accidents involving infants and the elderly.
The student participants joined ASPIRE League member university delegations at the ASPIRE Symposium, where researchers from member universities gathered to share selected research related to better living.
Tokyo Tech Institute of Innovative Research Professor Yasuharu Koike discussed his research on brain-machine interfaces, technology to decode the signals of the brain and allow external devices, such as wheelchairs and robotic prostheses, to be controlled simply through thought. The research will further contribute to our understanding of the brain and its control over our bodies.
School of Life Science and Technology Professor Takafumi Ueno shared an update on joint research conducted under the 2017 ASPIRE League Research Grant funded by Tokyo Tech. Co-researchers from Tsinghua University, HKUST, KAIST, and NTU are collaborating with Ueno to create functional designs of protein cages for sustainable bionanomaterials — technology that will provide the basis for new methods in drug delivery and imaging.
Drawing on their own research backgrounds and analyzing information obtained through the lectures, site visits, and ASPIRE Symposium, student workshop participants worked in groups to develop proposals on three sub-themes:
Tokyo Tech's Rei Okawa, a master's student in Industrial Engineering and Economics, was a member of the team awarded the prize for Best Group Presentation. Analyzing various problems with standard portable toilets, such as hygiene, functionality, design, and difficulty in transportation, Okawa and peers proposed a highly functional design for a hygienic, collapsible, portable washroom to support a diverse society.
"Our group members are from different countries, universities, and majors, so we brought together many ideas. Through this experience, I learned the importance of the collaboration between members from different backgrounds," Okawa commented.
Recognized with the Best Presentation Award for their ability to effectively communicate specialized technical knowledge to a diverse audience, NTU's Seanglidet Yean and Chalmers University's Pei-Yu Wu commented, "This workshop was very exciting, as we learned a lot from diverse members. It was an honor for us to win the Best Presentation Award, and we owe it to our wonderful group work."
Chairing the ASPIRE League in 2019-2020, Tokyo Tech Executive Vice President for Education Tetsuya Mizumoto welcomed fellow vice presidents and senior staff to the annual Vice Presidents and Senior Staff Meeting, held on July 11.
In addition to the presentation of reports by each vice president and discussions on scheduled activities, the delegates conducted a selection of collaborative research proposals to receive funding under the new ASPIRE League Partnership Seed Fund.
Aimed to promote joint research following the conclusion of the Tokyo Tech-funded ASPIRE Grant, the Seed Fund aims to support new research collaborations among member university researchers, with funding for each adopted project to be provided by two or more ASPIRE League member universities. A total of 25 project proposals were submitted.
Closing the meeting, Mizumoto thanked participants for their cooperation and confirmed Tokyo Tech's excitement at hosting the next ASPIRE Forum in June 2020.
On the last day of ASPIRE Forum 2019, Professor Yuan Si of the Tsinghua University Council and a founding delegate of the ASPIRE League, gave a special lecture to celebrate the League's 10th anniversary. Si described the history of the League in the context of rising Asia and global challenges, highlighting the ASPIRE League's focus on sustainable development in the years before the adoption of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
With evident pride, Si highlighted how the League's annual research symposia, collaborative research projects, and student activities, such as the Student Workshop and Undergraduate Research Academy, contribute to the realization of a sustainable world through innovations in science and technology.
He encouraged member university delegations to "continue to aspire" as a League and to work together toward shared goals in the consortium's next decade.
A consortium of five leading science and technology universities in Europe: Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland, RWTH Aachen University in Germany, Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, and Politecnico di Milano in Italy.
International Cooperation Division