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Top>Education>Research Support System for High-Level Research Presentations—Graduate School of Science and Engineering—


Yoichi Ishii

Yoichi Ishii [Profile]

Research Support System for High-Level Research Presentations—Graduate School of Science and Engineering—

Yoichi Ishii
Professor of Organometallic Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and Chairperson of the Graduate School of Science and Engineering

The high-level research capability of our university's Graduate School of Science and Engineering has attracted attention in recent years. The number of presentations given at academic meetings of graduate school students is unrivaled by any other domestic university, boasting a world-class level of intellectual production. Specifically there were 352 presentations (overseas: 58, domestic: 294) in the 2007 academic year and 374 (overseas: 109, domestic: 265) in the 2008 academic year.

This article introduces the system that has created such high-level research capability.

Awards show a high level of research

The 23rd Advanced Technology Award for Encouraging Creativity (hosted by Fuji Sankei Business i) was presented on July 23rd of 2009 as a part of Japan's efforts to realize a policy of nation-building on the basis of science and technology. The award is presented on a nation-wide scale to science and engineering students and young corporate researchers/technicians who have achieved outstanding research and development results. The award ceremony was held at the Meiji Kinenkan in Moto-Akasaka, Tokyo, and featured attendance by Princess Takamado. The grand prize in the student division is the Award of the Minister of Education, Sports, Culture and Technology. This award was presented to Ms. Rika Mochizuki (at the time of the award, a 2nd year student in the master's program for information systems and engineering; currently a 1st year student in the doctoral program for information security; affiliated with the Jinhui Chao Laboratory) for her presentation entitled Proposal of a color correction which is based on color thresholds and is capable of supporting individual differences. Ms. Mochizuki's achievement was even more remarkable because she was the first student from a private university to ever receive the award, and her accomplishment attracted much attention.

Additionally, the number of awards received by students at academic meetings is listed on the official webpage of Chuo University. 7 awards were received in the 2007 academic year and 16 awards were received in 2008. The number of awards received shows the high-level of research at our university.

An education and research system which responds to today's needs

In the Graduate School of Science and Engineering, research and education have been unified to a large extent. The graduate school uses an education and research systems which focuses on conducting education through research activities. Our school performs education fostering the ability to apply knowledge to practice by combining two educational aspects. The first aspect is in-depth specialized courses which include both the theoretical basics of science and engineering research and an introduction of the most advanced research topics. The second aspect is practical graduate research spanning from the identification of problems to proposal of solutions, implementation of experimental plans, collection and analysis of data, and holding of research presentations.

Furthermore, in addition to a student's academic major, an academic minor system has been implemented since the 2003 academic year. The academic major is assumed to pursue a single research theme selected from among traditional research fields. Conversely, the academic minor is an educational program featuring systematic study of advanced topics with interdisciplinary characteristics. Currently, our school offers a total of 6 academic minors (Disaster/Danger Management Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Data Science, Nano-Technology, Electronic Society/Information Security, and Sensory Robotics). All of these minors are fields in which the Graduate School of Science and Engineering possesses strong capability, and all of the fields are expected to grow greatly in the future. When conducting academic minors, teaching faculty from different academic majors cooperate to provide research guidance through lectures and the creation of research papers. Minors allow students to study the research methods used in other fields and to acquire specialized knowledge in the minored field. This system of academic major/minors realizes a reciprocal educational effect which prevents graduate students from becoming immersed solely in their affiliated major. The system succeeds in cultivating a broad range of rich knowledge and developing the ability to practically apply that knowledge.

The system also features a connection with the academic degree program. For Chuo University undergraduate students who have been recommended for enrollment into graduate school, the auditing of graduate school classes is permitted from the 4th year of undergraduate school. Furthermore, credit is given for these audited classes once the students have entered graduate school. This system increases the efficiency of learning in the master's program and also enables early instruction regarding graduate thesis. Focus on research from an early stage leads to higher quality research results.

The system also contains a partnership between industry and academia. Our university's Faculty of Science and Engineering and Graduate School of Science and Engineering conduct a program entitled Industry-Academia Partnership Education for Cultivating Female Researchers/Engineers (Industry-Academia Career Education Program for Female Science and Engineering Students). From the 2006 to 2008 academic years, this program was selected for the MEXT's Support Program for Contemporary Educational Needs (contemporary GP). Our university has continued to promote this program even after the end of the project. This program is intended to cultivate outstanding female researchers and engineers who will become future leaders and support gender equality. The result has been noteworthy achievements by female students such as the aforementioned Ms. Rika Mochizuki.

Of course, it goes without saying that this education and research system is supported by the passionate instruction of professors who are also world-class researchers. (The ratio of funding by research grants in the 2009 academic year was 38.1%. This ranks 5th among all domestic universities and research institutions and 1st among private universities.)

Chuo University's outstanding funding system

The graduate school also contains a system for funding of academic presentations. This system supplements travel costs associated with research presentations given at academic conferences in both Japan and overseas. The system covers almost all of the lodging expenses incurred when giving presentations at international academics conferences. Students in the master's program are eligible for funding of 1 academic conference per year, either domestic or overseas. Students in the doctoral program are eligible for funding of 1 domestic and 1 overseas academic conference per year.

The number of presentations made using this funding system is as follows: 257 (overseas: 36, domestic: 221) in the 2007 academic year, 260 (overseas: 93; domestic: 167) in 2008, and 279 (overseas: 87; domestic: 192) in the 2009 academic year. The number of cases presented at academic conferences by students of our graduate school is far more than any other graduate school. This system enables students to give presentations at overseas academic conferences which are normally difficult to attend, thus increasing the motivation of students. At the same time, students have the opportunity to interact with leading researchers who are internationally active, and to gain and understanding of the world's most advanced research trends. In this way, the system realizes further improvements in research quality.

Teaching Assistants (TA) and Research Assistants (RA) are another example of an outstanding research support system. TAs are graduate students who assist in conducting the classes of undergraduate students. The TA system allows graduate students to experience the concept of learning through teaching. RAs are graduate students in the doctoral program who assist in the research activities of research projects at Chuo University. The RA system allows graduate students to improve their research ability. Graduate students are paid a salary in the case of both systems.

Striving for even higher levels

Together with the rapid advances and rising levels of scientific technology, there is a yearly increase in the social need for doctoral programs at graduate schools of science and technology. These doctoral programs must cultivate researchers and high-level, specialized engineers. To respond to this trend, the Graduate School of Science and Engineering has prepared a curriculum which can support a wide range of specialized fields, including academic minors. This curriculum is founded on the motto of unique academic majors and an exceptional graduate school. The graduate school has also developed a system for research guidance. In the future, our school shall continue to work our hardest to cultivate outstanding professional who are capable of leading international performance.

As part of this program, lectures on improving presentations skills were started from this academic year for 1st year students in the master's program. The lectures aim to raise the overall standards of presentation skills which tend to vary widely among students, and to ensure uniform quality. Also, our graduate school is considering the establishment of a practical course in English presentations. The course would be taught by a foreign instructor. Such a course would help students improve their English ability and conduct research presentations at international academic conferences.

Furthermore, the Graduate School of Science and Engineering has implemented competency standards based on an educational system for cultivating stage-based competency. This educational system is used at the Faculty of Science and Engineering and was selected in the 2009 academic year for the MEXT's Program for Promoting University Education and Student Support (Theme A):Program for Promoting University Education Reform Implementation of the system enables our graduate school to combine conventional education together with education for developing human ability. Our graduate school is creating a program that enables students to take the initiative and improve their behavioral traits in a methodical and proactive manner.

Finally, the Faculty of Science and Engineering established the Department of Biological Sciences in the 2008 academic. Education of undergraduate students in the department is proceeding as planned. An academic major in biological sciences will be established in the 2012 academic year, the same year that students will graduate from undergraduate school. We are currently preparing to apply for the establishment of the new major. This new academic major will provide the Graduate School of Science and Engineering with a system that covers almost all fields of science and engineering. We expect an even more enhanced and higher level of research results.

Mr. Yoichi Ishii
Professor of Organometallic Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and Chairperson of the Graduate School of Science and Engineering
Born in Tokyo in 1958. Graduated from Department of Synthetic Chemistry, School of Engineering, University of Tokyo. In 1986, completed the doctoral program in synthetic chemistry at the Graduate School of Engineering, University of Tokyo. Holds a PhD in engineering. Served as Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Engineering, University of Tokyo before assuming his current position in 2002. Since November 2009, has served as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering and as Chairperson of the Graduate School of Science and Engineering. His major written works include Organic & Polymer Measurement: A Laboratory Guide for Young Researchers (Publisher: Kodansha Scientific Publishing). His hobbies include viewing ancient art.