Fostering development of human resources who can hit the ground running through study of “practical science” that has direct relevance to human life

Dean, School / Graduate School of Creative Science and Engineering Professor,
Department of Modern Mechanical Engineering
Sugano Shigeki Dr. of Eng.

Q: Please tell us about the features of the School of Creative Science and Engineering

The School of Creative Science and Engineering works in fields that are closely linked to society. We call this “practical science.” It’s probably easier to understand what this means by taking a look at the departments that make up the School of Creative Science and Engineering.

The Department of Architecture studies not only the creation of living environments and urban spaces, but researches earthquake-resistant construction and other topics that are deeply related to people’s lives.

The Department of Modern Mechanical Engineering comprehensively studies development of technology for mechanical systems such as automobiles, medical robots, and space structures.

The Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering studies construction methodology of complete systems for managing production, distribution, and communication.
The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering encompasses a wide range of social topics, ranging from protection of human life during earthquakes and tsunamis to protection of the environment, disaster prevention, and the design of social infrastructure and urban planning.

The Department of Resources and Environmental Engineering studies energy issues, the establishment of recycling-oriented societies, environmental pollution and protection of the global environment.
Finally, the professors of the Division of Socio-Cultural Studies provide cross-discipline education in creative engineering.

Each of these departments studies ways in which human life is affected by materials, products, society, and the environment, and investigates research development for the purpose of enriching human life. From this perspective, the School’s object of study is humanity itself; it conducts research that directly relates to human culture and society.

Being truly useful to humanity requires a deep understanding of people.

Q: Professor Sugano, I understand you are conducting robotic research at the Department of Modern Mechanical Engineering. Do you regard this as “practical science”?

My specialty is robotics, especially design of human-symbiotic robots. In the world of machines, there are many systems that operate automatically without interacting with people. This includes robots, which are capable of performing industrial tasks in place of people for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, my research into human-symbiotic robots is directed towards robots that are capable of working together with humans in situations that are directly related to life and society in the places where people live.

Although my laboratory is involved in many research topics, one involves the study of robotics for the purpose of providing care for people in an aging society. The important aspect of this research is that robots which help care for people must have the ability to make adapt to changes in people’s daily circumstances. Achieving this requires not only knowledge of mechanical engineering, but of people — including knowledge about health and welfare. For example, when caring for someone who has bedsores, a human caregiver will naturally lift the patient in such a way as to avoid touching the sores. While the original premise for developing a robotic caregiver was simply that it be capable of lifting a person, a robot also should be capable of adjusting its actions to a person’s condition.

Successful research along these lines requires more than just state-of-the-art knowledge about mechanical engineering. Such knowledge must be utilized from a base of constant awareness of people themselves, as well as society, culture and the environment.
It is exactly “practical science”.

Q: So I suppose concrete, practical research ability is in great demand among employers?

That’s correct; many of our students are earnestly approached by industry recruiters. Students from all departments and majors receive numerous offers, and there is a wide range of employment opportunities.

And an increasing number of students continue on to higher education, earning Masters or PhDs before going out to get jobs in industry. We provide programs through which such students can study innovation and management, as well as foreign exchange programs, all of which make the School the perfect environment for students who are highly motivated.

Ideal for highly motivated students who have a strong sense of purpose

Q: Considering the features of the School of Creative Science and Engineering that you’ve just described, what sort of students would you like to see enter the school?

The most important trait that the School’s students can have is a strong sense of motivation. The more students are motivated with regard to the relationship they want to have with people and the contribution they want to make to society, the more they will be able to engage in practical scholarship to help them achieve their goals. So students who want to accomplish, create, and study something of a specific nature will find scholastic life in the School of Creative Science and Engineering to be very fulfilling.

An especially wonderful feature of this school is that students can begin undertaking applied research on specific topics from the very first year of their studies. Of course, this is a university, so students must get a solid grounding in basic subjects before going on to applied research, but we have consciously constructed our curriculum to allow highly motivated students to get involved in a particular field of specialization as early as possible. This is a unique feature of the School of Creative Science and Engineering, and I really hope that students who loved math and science in high school, and who want to use that knowledge in creative endeavors, will join us.