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Doctoral students share joys of research at Tokyo Tech high school

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Published: August 30, 2021

Seven doctoral students and three faculty members visited Tokyo Tech High School of Science and Technology on July 16 to describe their research and graduate-level research in general to approximately 200 sophomores. The exchange session offered Tokyo Tech students the chance to explain their research to a non-specialist audience and enhance their teaching skills, and also provided the 2nd-year high school students with an opportunity to communicate directly with doctoral students. The visit was conducted as part of the Academic Leader Program Practice I (Teaching), a career development course conducted by the Innovator and Inventor Development Platform (IIDP) at Tokyo Tech.

Tokyo Tech High School of Science and Technology, established in 1886, is still the only national high school of science and technology in Japan, and is designated as a Super Science High School by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Each grade includes approximately 200 students, who select one of five specializations at the beginning of their sophomore year — Applied Chemistry, Information Systems, Mechanical Systems Engineering, Electrical and Electronics, or Architectural Design.

Tokyo Tech and its affiliated high school have maintained a collaborative education system for a number of years. This arrangement allows high school students to visit Tokyo Tech labs, participate in university-level education through activities such as the Summer Challenge, and conduct campus visits and other fruitful exchanges. As in-person events have been severely restricted recently due to COVID-19, the July 2021 session was a particularly valuable one for both Tokyo Tech students and their high school counterparts.

Sharing unique characteristics of Tokyo Tech

Prof. Shinozaki explaining Tokyo Tech education system
Prof. Shinozaki explaining Tokyo Tech education system

To kick things off, Institute Professor Kazuo Shinozaki from the Admissions Section of Tokyo Tech's Office of Educational and International Cooperation spoke to the high school students about the history and unique characteristics of the Institute, and also touched on admission procedures and some Tokyo Tech-related data. As a safety precaution, the students were seated in four different classrooms, with participants in three of these rooms listening to Shinozaki via Zoom.

Throughout the session, the high school students listened intently to the professor's talk and asked questions on topics such as study abroad opportunities, classes in English, and specific Tokyo Tech Schools that conduct cutting-edge research.

Sharing latest research with budding scientists and engineers

During the second part of the event, seven doctoral students, including two international students, and Professor Emeritus Hirofumi Akagi spoke to the high schoolers about their latest research through the following presentations.

Topic

Graduate Major

Year

How I began research on artificial intelligence

1st-year doctoral student

Research on nuclear reaction measurements using an accelerator

2nd-year doctoral student

Elucidating the genetic mechanism of parallel evolution using cichlids, freshwater fish of the Cichlidae family

2nd-year doctoral student

Sensing using optical fibers

2nd-year doctoral student

Data analysis using artificial intelligence

2nd-year doctoral student

Numerical simulation of the windbreak effect in a traditional igune forest surrounding a residence in Miyagi Prefecture

3rd-year doctoral student

Research on optical motion measurement system using first-person view video with ultra-wide viewing angle

3rd-year doctoral student

Power electronics: Fusing power and electronic engineering

Doctoral student describing his research
Doctoral student describing his research

Under the guidance of Professor Emeritus Noriyuki Kouchi, who is in charge of the Institute’s career development courses, the seven doctoral students prepared their presentations in advance. Some expressed concern regarding the level of understanding among high school students, but were pleasantly surprised on the day of the event.

Explaining the joys of research, motivation behind academic path

After the specific research presentations, the Tokyo Tech students returned to more general topics, giving talks about why they chose the Institute, the joys and challenges of science and technology research, and the factors that motivated them to pursue doctoral degrees.

Tokyo Tech student providing simple explanation of doctoral studies
Tokyo Tech student providing simple explanation of doctoral studies

Participant explaining researcher’s perspective using diagrams
Participant explaining researcher’s perspective using diagrams

Participant answering questions from high school students

Participant answering questions from high school students

During the Q&A session that followed, Tokyo Tech students and faculty shared their frank opinions in response to questions such as:

  • What has been best about Tokyo Tech since you joined?
  • When and how did you decide your research topic?
  • What are the differences between the master’s and doctoral programs?
  • You are an international student, but your Japanese language is outstanding. How did you learn?
  • Do you usually conduct research alone?

Igniting a spark within high school students

Based on the post-event questionnaire, the efforts of Tokyo Tech’s doctoral students and faculty ignited a spark within many of the participants. Below are some of the comments from the high school students.

"The presentations were easy to understand, thanks to the use of simple vocabulary, concrete examples, images, videos, and quizzes."
"I felt that it must very challenging to take on research for which there is no precedent."
"It might be very interesting to do research that does not go as expected."
"I became interested in research in areas that I thought I was not good at."
"I understood that these researchers are enjoying research that they truly want to conduct."
"I realized that experiencing the research process will help me in the future."
"I understood the importance of having a goal."
"After hearing these stories today, I will reconsider the path I want to take."
"I became more interested in the diverse research environment and unique education system at Tokyo Tech."
"I also want to conduct research at Tokyo Tech, so I will do my best to study hard."
"I hope our seniors can create a coaching project that will help us identify the research we want to conduct."
"I want to hear these stories again in the third year of high school."

IIDP and Tokyo Tech's career development programs

IIDP was established in 2013. Since then, the platform has been providing doctoral students with career development programs that support the career plans of each individual student. Students considering careers at universities or research institutions, for example, are provided with practical classes in academic and dissertation writing, presentations, grant application writing, and teaching.

Other courses are facilitated by frontline employees of collaborating companies, allowing students to learn discover and solve real-world problems experienced by customers and members of the public. Company partners also offer students an inside view of the cutting-edge research and development being conducting at startups and other companies expanding their reach globally.

Through a diverse curriculum that includes exchange events with middle and high schools and various other efforts, IIDP will continue to support strongly the career development of Tokyo Tech graduate students.

Contact

Innovator and Inventor Development Platform Office (IIDP)

Email iidpinfo@jim.titech.ac.jp

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