On Thursday, October 2, 2014 , an entrance ceremony was held in the Kenshu Hall in the Center for Frontier Science and Technology.
NAIST eagerly promotes admission of students whether from Japan or overseas with strong basic academic capabilities without being bound to a major field in university as well as researchers, engineers and others currently working actively in society who have clearly defined goals and aspirations for the future as well as strong interest and enthusiasm for research fields. This autumn 46 graduate students were granted admission to NAIST.
*Number of Enrollees in October
Information Science 11 (8 international students)
Biological Sciences 6 (6 international students)
Information Science 16 (12 international students)
Biological Sciences 9 (9 international students)
Materials Science 4 (0 international students)
Total 46 (35 international students)
[Congratulatory Remarks to Entering Students, October 2, 2014]
I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to the 17 students of the master's course and the 29 students of the doctoral course that entered NAIST today. On behalf of the 200 faculty and 150 staff members here at NAIST, I welcome you.
I am pleased to announce that the incoming class represents 35 students from 13 countries / regions. In particular, I would like to express a warm and hearty welcome to those of you who have chosen to leave your home country and study in Japan. Including the entering class, we now have 169 international students from 41 countries / regions, accounting for 16.3% of our 1035 students.
My goal is to have international students in all 60 laboratories on campus, comprising a robust global education and research environment, and I feel that we are moving closer this reality. Until now Japanese universities tended to limit their focus domestically, but we now face a growing demand to pursue university globalization as a means to align with global standards and raise the presence of Japanese science and technology, and Japanese society more generally. A further aim of globalization is to expose Japanese students to societies around the world and to familiarize them with the needs being placed on science and technology at the global level. To this end, starting this year, Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has launched the "Top Global University Project". I am pleased to report that NAIST was recently selected for this prestigious program. By making use of this funding, we would like to strengthen the support system for students' daily lives while providing opportunities for students of diverse cultures and research contexts to interact with one another. We would, of course, like for our international students to interact with Japanese students, but we'd also like you to interact broadly with students from many other countries.
I would now like to mention the background of NAIST's founding. NAIST was established in October 1991, as a newly conceived, independent graduate university. In the establishment of NAIST, the following ideas were put forth as the mission of our institute's education and research in the overall concept of this new institute. The fields of frontier science and technology have the following characteristics:
・wide-ranging and interdisciplinary
・include novel developments occurring from fundamental research
・produce new knowledge based on fundamental research which serves as the basis of technology developed in extremely short periods
・technological developments become the base of fundamental research and make further progress possible
・thus, the high integration of science and technology is clearly evident
With this in mind, for the fields of frontier science and technology, the promotion of interdisciplinary fundamental researches, reaching beyond traditional, narrowly-focused academic divisions, is of extreme importance.
The following is also stated concerning education:
With the rapid developments in the areas of frontier science and technology, an important issue for both academic research and industry is the organized fostering of researchers and engineers to undertake the research and development. Especially in these fields, it is necessary to train human resources that can respond flexibly to developments in science and technology and are capable of continuously pursuing new research fields.
In other words, NAIST was founded to conduct interdisciplinary research, integrating science and technology, extending past established areas of studies such as engineering, physical science, agriculture and medical science, in the rapid developing frontier science and technology fields of information, biological and materials sciences.
With this as our foundation, NAIST develops human resources that actively adjust to developments in science and technology, and are competent at continually cultivating new areas of research. NAIST's education and research mission, which has since been revised to include global perspectives, was pioneering from the start and continues to represent the ideas necessary for society today.
Furthermore, with enthusiastic research faculty members from various backgrounds actively performing research activities, and through organized graduate school education based on this research, NAIST has conferred master's degrees to 6,257 students and doctoral degrees to 1,239 students.
NAIST's research and education activities have been evaluated very highly by numerous indicators and in the MEXT national university education and research results evaluation.
Last year MEXT chose 22 institutions for its Program for Promoting the Enhancement of Research Universities in order to further promote globalization and research abilities, and, proudly, NAIST was among the selected institutions.
In relation to NAIST's education and research mission, today's science and technology is changing greatly. 21st century science is now thought to deal with all disciplines through complex systems. The new keyword for information sciences is "big data". We are now in an era where computer, sensor and network efficiency has improved greatly, the entire world is connected together in real time through the internet, and the world's various data is utilized comprehensively. As a result, it is expected that a new world will be created and supported by ICT technology. This technology will be applicable to various fields, such as energy, transportation, social care, and agriculture. Through revolutions in genome DNA sequence analysis technology, collecting mass data of biological activities, and diversity of living organisms, including that of humans, has become possible.
As a result, in bioscience, the era of understanding various singular processes has shifted to an era of understanding of how those processes work collectively and diversely in living organisms and how various living organisms mutually affect each other in the earth's environment. As can be understood from the term 'big data biology', there is a paradigm shift occurring where the statistical analysis of huge amounts of data is leading actual experimental biology. Furthermore, in materials science, advancements in analysis and measurement technology have uncovered a new world of materials. Based on a rich understanding of atomic and molecular behavior, new materials that were unimaginable 20 years ago can now be produced.
With these science and technological advancements new interdisciplinary fields of research are being created covering information, biological and materials sciences, such as the integrated field of computational biology from information and biological sciences. The distance between fundamental science and technology and their resultant developments in society is much shorter than 20 years ago. I believe that when you graduate from NAIST and take positions as researchers and technicians in society, the impact of the developments in science and technology will be farther reaching than we can imagine now.
On the other hand, while dealing with such problems as natural resource and energy scarcity and global warming, both caused by human activity, the importance of science and technology to create a sustainable society has become even clearer. To this end, with no precedent or roadmap to follow, we must reform the current model of societal development, which is based on the pursuit of material affluence, and the mass production / mass consumption behavior it creates. And all the while we must identify new problems and address them with creative solutions.
In the future, I hope you will all create and apply new science and technology from various positions in order to establish a new world. And I also hope you will respond flexibly to the rapid developments in science and technology, and continue discovering new areas of research, while also achieving various disciplines of knowledge, multicultural communication skills and collaboration skills.
To make this possible, it is important to develop the ability to view and use the trends of various fields creatively, without being locked into your own area of expertise. From now, you will all enter different laboratories and continue your studies and research, but you may be able to achieve interesting results through the adoption of methods and ideas from other laboratories. At NAIST, the walls between each laboratory and graduate school are intentionally low, so I hope you interact with a wide variety of people.
Finally, I hope you lead happy and healthy lives while studying here at NAIST. In starting your new lives here, you will all meet many new people. Then, in making friends, building ties, and establishing networks through your studies, you will not only expand your range of studies and research activities, but this will also support you in your life here and become a treasure that will be a part of your entire life. I would like to conclude my speech by wishing you a prosperous student life that would lead to your future. Congratulations once again on entering NAIST. All members of the faculty and staff welcome you wholeheartedly.
President Naotake Ogasawara,
Nara Institute of Science and Technology