Message from the Dean
Prof. Tetsuya Nagasaka
The expression “Standing on the shoulders of giants,” which is attributed to a 12th century French philosopher, is commonly used in everyday life by people in the West. Isaac Newton famously used the expression in a letter he wrote to another scientist. This expressions acknowledges that new discoveries and developments in academic research are made upon the accumulated achievements and earlier research efforts of those who come before us. In other words, it is due to the work of our pioneers, our predecessors, that we can command a view of new intellectual horizons. This adage always come to mind when I look back on the long history of the Tohoku University School of Engineering.
May 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Tohoku University’s School of Engineering. On the basis of our principles of “Research-First” “Open Doors” and “Practice-Oriented Research and Education”, knowledge has been forged and technology has advanced tremendously, leading to significant social developments which have made day to day living more convenient, more enjoyable and have made our society richer. In an effort to both honor the traditions carved by our school’s “many giants” and to maximise our potential for further growth and development, we are taking a fresh look at our responsibilities and mission. Optimism alone will not bring us the future we desire. There are many issues that must be actively confronted with a sense of crisis and tension.
One of these issues is the intensification of international competitiveness. In recent years, we have witnessed the rise of Asian countries against the backdrop of a remarkable amount of capital and a richness in human resources. To compete on the same stage, our school must continually prove itself a world-class research university. The task is to fully unleash the potential of young researchers and students, who form the basis of our existence. Besides creating an open research climate which fosters the capabilities and potential of our students and staff, we are expanding our overseas training and dispatch program to broaden the horizons of individuals, cultivate their linguistic capability and build a wide research community. Further efforts to enrich a sense of friendly competitiveness are being made by promoting exchange within Japan with the elite from overseas.
The second issue is the advancement and diversification of the basic mission of engineering. At present, engineering must not only respond to the issues and demands of society, but must also promote new industries through innovation. It must also improve the society at large through the creation of new value. Engineering has the potential to contribute exciting value creation. For this to be possible, creative ideas need to be connected with advanced technology, and the capability for societal implementation needs to be established, and the viability from an engineering perspective has to be shown. At our school, we aim to foster talented youth with specialist knowledge and an entrepreneurial mindset, and the resilience to overcome hardships. Also, while we develop a future-oriented research race in the global field, it is our duty to collaborate with industry and address various challenges with the aim of strengthening the industrial base of our region.
In the current climate, we cannot expect proactive investment in advanced higher education and research from the government. From now, we must be ever mindful and grateful that we do indeed “stand on the shoulders of giants”. This in itself is motivation for us to aim high and to forge new paths in tough fields using our own strength. What lies ahead when we reach the summit, when we know our results will have impact in Aobayama Campus, in the local region, in Japan, and throughout the world? The future challenge has begun. (April, 2018, on a budding spring campus)