Tokyo Tech 1st-year students enroll in one of seven Academic Groups. During their first year, students decide on a major field of study, and affiliate with a department at the beginning of the 2nd year.
A student enrolled in the 1st Academic Group, for example, chooses one of five departments — Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, or Earth and Planetary Sciences in the School of Science, or Mathematical and Computing Science in the School of Computing. Students study under faculty from each School and settle on one specialization in preparation for choosing the laboratory they will later join. Selecting a department is the first step students take in choosing a specialization, an important decision that determines their future path.
At the end of academic year 2016, 1st-year students chose their department for the first time under the new education system. To help students make the right choices, Tokyo Tech organized an event entitled "Questions for graduates and senior students: How should I choose my department?" on September 28 and October 5 at the Centennial Hall on Ookayama Campus.
This event featured talks by six Student Life Coaches and a panel discussion that included two peer supporters. Student Life Coaches are Tokyo Tech graduates and former career advisors who provide support designed to help new students with questions and problems that they encounter. They talked about their school days, careers, and other important factors that students should consider when choosing a department.
Class of 1966, Department of Architecture and Building Engineering
Former employee of Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd., worked in architectural design, urban planning, building technique research. Studied at MIT during employment at Mitsubishi Estate, dispatched to Mitsubishi Corporation.
Class of 1974, Department of Mechanical Sciences and Engineering
Class of 1976, Department of Nuclear Engineering (master's degree program)
Joined Hitachi, Ltd., currently technical councilor at Renewable Energy Solutions Division.
Class of 1968, Department of Control Engineering
Former full-time auditor at Nippon Light Metal Co., Ltd. Currently research and development advisor at Iharanikkei Chemical Industry Co., Ltd.
Class of 1969, Department of Applied Physics
Class of 1971, Department of Applied Physics (master's degree program)
Worked at Fujifilm Corporation in basic research, product development. Earned doctorate of science from Tokyo Tech in 1994.
Class of 1969, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Former representative director and managing director at Toshiba Machine Co., Ltd. Served as Tokyo Tech lecturer in Department of Mechano-Micro Engineering where he taught Machine Design and Drawing 2 Course.
Class of 1972, Department of Applied Physics
Class of 1974, Department of Applied Physics (master's degree program)
Former Chief Internal Auditor, Corporate Audit Office, Seiko Instruments Inc.
Moderator : Sachiko Ito
PhD in Commerce and Management, Hitotsubashi University in 2015
After joining IBM Japan, Ltd. and then starting her own business, served as career advisor at Tokyo Tech from 2006 to 2015. Currently Tokyo Tech Student Life Coach and specially appointed professor at Tokyo Tech Student Support Center.
The panel discussion that followed included current Tokyo Tech seniors providing advice to 1st-year students on a wide range of issues such as choosing courses, specializations, and laboratories, and other factors concerning college life.
Choosing a department means deciding your starting line, not the finish line.
First, attend classes and explore your interests. That will be very helpful in choosing a department.
It is important to experience the atmosphere and affinity of each laboratory before choosing one. I recommend that you visit laboratories that you may be interested in to meet the academic supervisors and get a feel for the mood to determine which one is best suited to you.
It is also important to collect information on the popularity and applicant ratios to choose a department. Academic achievement in the first year will influence your options. Therefore, I recommend that you do your best in your first year.
What one likes, one will do well. I hope the 1st-year students choose a direction that will help them to concentrate on what they are interested in doing.
After starting to study, we often change directions. I was interested in programming and started studying computational engineering. What I found, though, was a significant gap between my level and those who had studied programming before they entered the university. I am now thinking about changing my major to information and communications engineering.
I do not think there is any single reason to choose a department. You should ask yourself why you chose Tokyo Tech, and think about what you really want to do.
You should consider employment options as well as what you are interested in before choosing a department. It is also helpful to find out where the graduates from the department are working now and what they are doing. Visit the career advisor's room to get more helpful information.
Q : What do you think is important in preparing to exercise our ability on a global scale?
Language ability is the most important. I studied English hard since I was in high school. That helped me to smoothly promote business with overseas companies in the US, Europe, and Russia.
I went on a 45-day study tour to the US when I was a Tokyo Tech student. That experience helped me a lot. It raised my confidence in giving presentations in English.
Q : I am worried about whether or not I will be able to work in fields other than my area of specialization.
You'll be fine. With the broad range of knowledge I acquired at Tokyo Tech, I had no problems working in a wide range of businesses.
If you acquire basic knowledge and research experience in science and technology, you will be able to work in any field, including those you experience for the first time.
With the ability and motivation you acquire at Tokyo Tech, you will have no problems. It is important for you to improve your communication skills so that you can confidently express and discuss your ideas.
Q : What makes it possible to have a fulfilling college life?
I recommend that you participate in lecture presentations, internships, factory visits, study abroad programs, and volunteer work to broaden your perspective. Lecture presentations hosted by the Tokyo Tech Alumni Association are open to students. Please check them out.
I recommend that you look at global trends and identify the essence of current social issues.
It is important to be interested in people as well as science and technology. It's also important to become broadly familiar with classical literature from around the world, history, philosophy, art, and other areas to improve your knowledge, skills, and sophistication.
Although each participant provided a unique perspective on Tokyo Tech life, there was a clear likeness between the messages from the graduates and senior students. Both agreed that it was important to consider what one really wants to do before choosing a department. Working on what you want to do makes learning more interesting and exciting. "What one likes, one will do well."
Both generations also emphasized that deciding on a department does not limit future directions. The new department system has a broader framework that allows students to change their majors and adjust their future path more flexibly. While deciding on a direction is an important choice students make at Tokyo Tech, "choosing a department means deciding your starting line, not the finish line."
The Institute watches with great excitement and anticipation as students who have spent their first year in the new education system choose their departments and develop their abilities.
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Published: February 2017