On Thursday, April 5, 2018, an entrance ceremony was held in the Millennium Hall.
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 the fields of frontier science and technology. This spring 397 graduate students were granted admission to NAIST.
At the ceremony, Mr. Jun Hitotsumatsu, the Vice Governor of Nara Prefecture, Mr. Masashi Komurasaki, the Mayor of Ikoma City, Mr. Shigekazu Nakamura, the Executive Director of the Foundation for NAIST, Dr. Shoji Komai, the Head of NAIST Alumni Association were invited as guests. There was a performance of "Boushibari", Okura School of Kyogen by the Shigeyama Family.
*Number of Enrollees in April
Science and Technology 336 (19 international students)
Science and Technology 61 (15 international students)
Total 397 (34 international students)
Congratulatory Remarks to Entering Students
At Entrance Ceremony, Spring 2018
On behalf of the roughly 200 faculty and 150 staff members here at NAIST, I would like to welcome the 336 students entering the master's course and the 61 new and continuing students entering the doctoral course of NAIST today. I would also like to express my heartfelt congratulations to the families of the new students.
I am pleased to announce that the incoming class includes 34 international students from 11 countries / regions. In particular, I would like to express a warm welcome to those of you who have chosen to leave your home country and study in Japan. Including the entering class today, we now have 250 international students from 31 countries / regions.
NAIST aims to increase its international student population to more than 300 students from more than 40 different countries to achieve a globalized education and research environment where international students are studying and contributing in all of the 60+ main laboratories here, and I feel we are coming very close to realizing this goal.
NAIST is heading into its 27th year and, on April 1st, the structural reorganization into a one graduate school system, from the 3 Graduate Schools of Information, Biological and Materials Sciences to the Graduate School of Science and Technology, has been completed. You are the first class of the Graduate School of Science and Technology who will start a new page on our history.
With this ceremony being in such a transitional year, I would like to take this opportunity to look at the background of NAIST's establishment. In the concept paper for NAIST's establishment released in August 1991, the guiding mission of our research is described as:
"Characteristically, the fields of frontier science and technology have wide-ranging, interdisciplinary dimensions in which innovative developments are taking place at a very rapid pace. In these fields, new knowledge from fundamental research results in technological developments in very short periods, and technological developments, in turn, become the base of fundamental research and make further progress possible. Thus, high integration of science and technology is remarkably more notable than in any other field. With this in mind, it is crucial to promote interdisciplinary fundamental research that reaches beyond traditional academic divisions in these fields."
Also, the education mission of NAIST is explained as: "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 capable of undertaking research and development in these fields. Especially in these fields, it is necessary to train diverse human resources with refined fundamental skills to respond flexibly to developments in science and technology, and to continuously pursue new fields of research."
To sum this up, NAIST was founded to conduct interdisciplinary research in rapidly developing fields of frontier science and technology such as information, biological and materials sciences, by integrating science and technology and extending beyond the borders of established study areas such as engineering, physical science, agriculture and medical science. With this as our foundation, NAIST develops human resources capable of flexibly responding to developments in science and technology, and continually cultivating new leading areas of research.
NAIST's current education and research mission has since been revised to include the keyword "to see [issues] from a global perspective." The mission was pioneering from the outset and continues to represent the ideas necessary for society today.
With dynamic research in various areas including academia, research institutes, and private industry by spirited faculty members, and through organized graduate school education based on cutting-edge research, NAIST has produced 7,601 master's and 1,505 doctoral graduates.
NAIST's research and educational activities have been evaluated very highly both in objective rankings and in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's (MEXT) evaluation of national university educational and research results.
For example, NAIST has been chosen for both the Program for Promoting the Enhancement of Research Universities, a MEXT program to strengthen research prowess of recognized institutions, and the Top Global Program, a MEXT program designed to provide support for selected universities to lead Japan's international growth. NAIST was one of only 17 institutions in Japan chosen for both of these programs.
You should be proud of being members of one of the most prestigious universities in Japan in terms of both research and education, and I urge you to take advantage of the valuable opportunities available at NAIST in furthering your academic career and workforce preparation.
Closely related to our educational and research mission I mentioned before, science and technology today is changing dramatically and it can be said that we are in a revolutionary era of science and technology.
New keywords in science and technology are artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT), and are mainly thought to be related to information science. Thanks to improved computer, sensor and network efficiency, houses, cars and all kinds of things are connected to the internet making the entire world interconnected in real time, and we are facing an era where integrated data use around the world is possible.
As a result, we can also see the rise of a 'Super Smart Society' which effectively and thoroughly responds to the various needs of society in offering the necessary materials or services to the necessary people at the necessary time in the necessary amount. This is called Society 5.0.
These kinds of changes in societal infrastructures greatly influence research methodology and its applicable fields not only in the area of information science, but in all research areas.
For example, in the field of biosciences, revolutions in areas such as genome DNA sequence analysis technology and cellular activity imaging technology have brought forth an era where collecting huge amounts of data on the activities of various cells and living organisms within nature, including humans, is possible. The interdisciplinary field of big data biology which is closely related to information science, has been created.
Also, in the field of materials science, materials informatics, a new interdisciplinary field with information science, is emerging; and there are growing expectations towards pursuits for new material creation with effective molecular and material design using AI functions.
Furthermore, progress in cutting edge medical science is expected through the connection of developments in the construction of medical databases and remote operation technology utilizing virtual and augmented reality in information sciences, the development of embedded biodevices utilizing element microminiturization and flexible biocompatible materials in materials science, and the advancements of developmental and cellular biology within bioscience.
As demonstrated by this, within the revolutions of science and technology developments towards the interdisciplinary fields that span the 3 main advanced science and technology areas at NAIST, information, biological and materials sciences, are becoming very prominent. With this, of course, researchers and technicians in these interdisciplinary fields will come to be in great demand.
It is thought that revolutions in science and technology will not stop within research but bring about large changes to society and mankind. A major example of this is the reaching of 'singularity', the achievement of computer abilities that surpass our own, advocated by Ray Kurzweil.
According to this, it is thought that, in the 2040's, many of the occupations that currently exist will disappear and new occupations will appear in their place. At that time, you will be the generation leading society.
The organizational restructuring for a single graduate school system surrounding the Graduate School of Science and Technology was performed considering these rapid changes in science and technology and societal evolution, to thoroughly strengthen interdisciplinary area education programs to enable graduates to undertake pursuits not only in their current field of specialization, but also in new fields as well.
You have all left your previous places of study and I believe you are entering NAIST with high expectations for your future experiences here. After this you will be introduced to the laboratories of the Graduate School of Science and Technology, be placed in a laboratory, and choose an Education Program. After this, you will proceed with your life and activities at NAIST, starting your studies and beginning your research.
Please do not limit yourself to your previous knowledge and experience, but instead take a "large step forward" and challenge yourself to unlock new possibilities. Remember, NAIST's motto is 'Outgrow your Limits.' NAIST faculty and staff will support you in undertaking new challenges.
Looking towards the future, at NAIST I hope you equip yourself with the basic tools that will allow you to not depend solely upon the knowledge and skills of only one area of specialization, but instead apply those methods to other fields to continually pursue new areas of research and rise above singularity.
Finally, I hope you will enjoy your life at NAIST in good health. You will meet many new people here at NAIST and I hope that you will treasure these friendships. This network of friends will not only widen your research and academic activities, but also become a priceless part of your entire life.
In concluding my message, I hope you will have a successful student life and have great expectations for your future activities.
Congratulations once again on entering NAIST.
President Naokazu Yokoya,
Nara Institute of Science and Technology
April 5, 2018