Naokazu Yokoya

Naokazu Yokoya
President of Nara Institute of Science and Technology

NAIST: On Furthering NAIST's Global Presence

NAIST was established in 1991 as a new type of national graduate school, one without undergraduate programs, with three graduate schools focusing on the advancement of information, biological and materials sciences, which are central to our society in the 21st century. Since that time we have promoted internationally-recognized research in these three fields and their interdisciplinary fusion areas as an 'institution for experimenting', while effectively carrying out human resource development through highly-organized graduate school education curriculum based upon the results of this research. To this date, NAIST has sent 7,300 master's and 1,400 doctoral program graduates into society and they are active as researchers and engineers throughout various fields in the world. Additionally, we have sent out numerous young researchers who studied and trained at NAIST to universities around Japan as professors and associate professors. This type of contribution to education and research in the forefront of science and technology is a distinguishing feature of NAIST's activities.
Looking back at the 25 years of education and research that has been performed since NAIST's beginnings, we can see that the institute's activities have been highly evaluated, not only through concrete statistics but also through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's (MEXT) national institution education and research achievement evaluations. For example, NAIST was chosen by MEXT as one of 22 institutions to participate in the Program for Promoting the Enhancement of Research Universities which began in 2013 to further strengthen the research prowess of institutions' with considerable achievements. Furthermore, in 2014 the institute was chosen along with 36 other institutions to participate in the Top Global University Project, which actively supports institutions that lead internationalization within Japan.
Today, globalization is being called for across all areas of society. Globalization on our own campus is being carried out through the support of these two projects, and collaboration in both education and research with prominent institutions from around the globe is being enhanced. Concerning education, NAIST has established international offices in Indonesia and Thailand to serve as collaborative centers. Currently more than 20% of NAIST's student population consists of students from diverse areas and countries, and we plan to further encourage growth in the international population to promote development in our global community. In relation to research, NAIST is strengthening its strategic collaborative pursuits with North American, European and other institutions. Our professors have established and are leading two satellite laboratories at foreign institutes (France and USA) and three collaborative research laboratories have been established at NAIST and are being led by foreign institution (USA, France, Canada) faculty, and we are beginning collaborative research involving students as well. Along with these developments, NAIST is sending young researchers abroad for one-year research and education opportunities to encourage and facilitate their global development and activities.
Collaboration with private industry and other non-academic institutions is also a significant priority and NAIST is collaborating strategically with industry aiming at innovation creation, in areas from the determining of future issues that society will face to aggressive research efforts aimed at solving these individual issues. We are currently working with three corporations in Collaborative Research toward Future Innovation projects to create new forms of collaborative research to develop new approaches for interdisciplinary fusion fields.
Science and technology is currently facing a revolutionary era. At NAIST we have focused on world-leading research in the three fields of information, biological, and materials sciences, and their interdisciplinary areas, and focused on the production of talented researchers and engineers during the 25 years since establishment, while also continuously redefining what the 'forefront of science and technology' is during that same time, In order to create an education and research organization that can respond flexibly to that evolving forefront of science and technology, NAIST is planning a shift to a one graduate school system to stress the enhancement of interdisciplinary education in 2018. Within this plan, in addition to the 'Program in Information Science and Engineering', 'Program in Biological Sciences' and the 'Program in Materials Science and Engineering' which correspond to the current education and curriculum of the three graduate schools, the 'Program in Computational Biology', 'Program in Bionanotechnology', 'Program in Intelligent Cyber-Physical Systems', and the 'Program in Data Sciences' are established as interdisciplinary educational programs. In our pursuit of a growing global presence, this shift to one graduate school is the largest challenge NAIST has faced since its establishment.
As the President of an institute that continually seeks forefronts, I believe it is important to maintain a sense of challenge for the university as an organization and for the students, faculty and staff within it. We shall strive to create new innovations and develop human resources that will support these to give us hope for the future, so I ask for your understanding and support for these new challenges.