SDM, the magic lamp
A place where friction breeds new ideas
(entered spring 2010), graduated from the Department of Physics, Keio University in March 2010
I want to relate how the hopes and ideas that I had before coming to SDM have been fulfilled.
Wish No. 1: I want to do research that gives back to society.
I majored in (experimental) astrophysics at the Faculty of Science and Technology on the Yagami Campus, and my research focused on activity at the center of the Milky Way as measured from interstellar radio spectral line observations collected with a radiotelescope. Astronomy seeks out the truths of the universe, and continuing to study it was an attractive option, but I made the choice to come to SDM because I also wanted to learn engineering and be able to incorporate the demands and requirements of society into my research. One of the things that really set SDM apart is its breadth. The faculty has an enormous range of expertise, and the students come from all sorts of backgrounds. We have new graduates and also returning students with real-world experience. Most classes at the school involve working as teams to tackle tasks, and that means there is a lot of interchange and interaction among laboratories. I think these interactions among people are one of the reasons why SDM is so energetic, and why it is so good at producing new ideas and concepts.
Wish No. 2: I want to learn more about the world outside Japan.
SDM is a great place to hone your English skills. Many of the lectures are taught in English, and the atmosphere at the school makes it seem as if speaking in foreign languages is commonplace. There is also a great study abroad program and many opportunities to work on projects with exchange students from other countries. The Active Learning Project Sequence (ALPS) is a half-year project that is guided by professors from abroad, and all of the presentations and other output must be submitted in English. While there is an emphasis on language abilities, the greatest attraction to ALPS is the opportunity to experience teamwork in a non-sports setting. You learn the importance of creating an environment that is conducive to working together, because that is the only way your work is going to proceed efficiently. The ALPS experience is more than just an opportunity to broaden my international horizons. It also turned my interest to problems closer to home in Japan.
Wish No. 3: I want to ponder the universe.
Systems engineering serves as a compass to guide almost any field, and my encounter with it at SDM was a shock. SDM coursework provides a systematic overview of systems engineering. Associate Professor Seiko Shirasaka's class on the fundamentals of systems engineering is a required subject, and it gave us enormous practical experience in figuring out how to apply those concepts to many different areas. Having learned the foundations, the curriculum then allowed me to take a class in "System Engineering and Architecture Framework" taught by Mr. James Martin from Aerospace Corporation and short-term intensive lectures on "System Architecting Design" and "System Integration" by Prof. Rashmi Jain of Stevens Institute of Technology. I was also fascinated by Associate Professor Hajime Yano's class on "Frontier Project Management," which took the completely opposite tack from the other classes and taught us about how you prepare physically and mentally to tackle unknown issues and projects that have never before been attempted. Most of my classes at SDM have left a lasting impression.
My wish is my command.
SDM teaches us to analyze social requirements from a wide variety of angles as we conduct our research. The process of verifying novelty and utility in the course of research has been a great experience. It is even more motivating because you are surrounded by returning students who have developed their skills in the real world. I learned so much in the first year, but I want to double that by the time I graduate! SDM is a wonderful graduate school where wishes come true if you are willing to act.