Its been around 15 months since I came to Japan. During this time I have faced different challenges. First, to adjust myself to the new environment. Second, to pass the entrance exam of the University of Tokyo (which makes my heart beat just remembering that!! phew!). Third, to start and proceed with my research. The first two points are accomplished, now its time for the third.
I was stunned by the research environment the first moment I started my Masters. Actually how things run at the university is quite amazing. For Master students, at least in the Engineering faculty, taking courses is not that important. Yes, we must pass 8 subjects to graduate, but I can choose ANY 8 subjects. For example, I can take English courses, Maths, or Java. None of those are related to my Electronics Engineering field. At first, I thought this might be a mistake, since a student should take strong courses to aid his journey in research. But oh Toudai has proven me to be very wrong!
Graduate studies in the University of Tokyo focus on practical research more than on the theoretical one. Take any courses you want, but focus at your work at the laboratory. Each faculty has several laboratories to run their research. Any student at the Engineering faculty has to be a part of a certain laboratory. A laboratory is specialized in researching a certain topic that is a branch of the main subject. For example in Electronics Engineering, there are labs who work with CMOS, others with CAD, or even Communication. Now inside each laboratory there are groups. Each group is usually assigned a different task unrelated to the other groups so that the lab can produce different results simultaneously. To my surprise, inside a one group, each student is assigned a different task that is, ofcourse, related to the work of the rest of the group. This way, if a group needed an advice for the work of another group, since they all work under the same main subject, experienced help and support can be found.
Every week, all laboratories meet to present their current status and work, in whats called the weekly Electronics Engineering Presentation. All students of the Electronics Engineering gather and three students from three different labs present their current research and work. In doing this, every lab knows the status of other labs such that in case their research is needed to progress of any lab, the professor in charge is contacted. In addition to the fact that students learn alot whenever hearing other new researches. I, as a student, have to present once a year. I already presented two weeks ago and I received and Excellent feed back from the professors attended. Wohoooo!! (^_^)v
Now, all what I said above is nothing compared to what I am going to say next...
Whenever I sit with my professor, who is really really smart, he assures me that if I need any book, any component, anything I need to help me researching, I shouldnt hesitate to ask! Its really amazing! They are even ready to pay THOUSANDS of dollars to manufacture a chip that I designed just to test and proceed with the research. Ofcourse, this only occurs after many sleepless night of testing in simulation before the costy manufacturing can take place.
Now, the ultimate dream for any student in my position is to be selected to present in an international conference. This can only be achieved if the student had an original idea and succeeded in transforming it to a real design. I hope I can make it. My professor always goes around the world presenting in conferences with students, which can be a hint how strong the lab is working. Papers and publications from 2007 or 2008 is considered, you can not use old research and you should make sure you build something new, or resume old researches with new ideas, even as a Masters student!
Are you still wondering why University of Tokyo is a top-ten-over-the-world University?
I am not.