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2014 Entrance Ceremony for Faculty and Graduate School Celebrated

2014.04.08

On April 5, 2014 (Sat.), the 2014 Entrance Ceremony for Faculty and Graduate School was celebrated at Nagaoka City Theater.

Today, 506 new undergraduate students, 399 new master’s program students, 28 new doctoral program students, and 15 new students enrolled in the graduate professional degree program gained admission from President Dr. Koichi Niihara.

Following that, Ms. Kasumi Sakamoto, third year student of Mechanical Engineering, took an oath on behalf of new students.

Here is the President’s announcement.

Today, on the occasion of celebrating the 2014 Entrance Ceremony of Nagaoka University of Technology, I am absolutely delighted to extend my blessing to you, new students, with many parents in attendance. At the same time, on behalf of the teaching staff, I would like to appreciate and congratulate those who have cared for and supported new students.

This year, 107 undergraduate students were enrolled in Nagaoka University of Technology from regular and specialized high schools, from Kagawa Prefecture in the south to Aomori Prefecture in the north, by breaking through the entrance exam with one of the lowest pass rates in the faculties of engineering of all national universities. This year, 399 students were transferred to the third year from 55 technical colleges in Japan, from Okinawa to Hokkaido. Also this year, 427 students were enrolled in the master’s and the doctoral programs of Graduate School, and 15 students entered the Professional Graduate School. To these 948 students, I extend my sincere congratulations on your admission to Nagaoka University of Technology.

To the 67 international students: You might have difficulties on a daily basis because of your life in Nagaoka, being distant from your family and your homelands and in an extremely different environment, study, research, Japanese language, and different culture and customs. However, Nagaoka University of Technology offers maximum support; so feel safe and do your best. Nagaoka as a region has devoted its efforts to the development of human resources from old times, originating in the spirit of “Komehyappyo,” and has produced human resources who have remained active not only in Japan, but also throughout the world. It is also positive about international exchange and has numerous organizations to support international students. Among them, the “Mutsumi-kai” has continued to give advice to international students over many years. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those most benevolent participants of Mutsumi-kai. Please visit the International Friendship Lounge of NUT and ask them for advice if you have any difficulty in your life in Nagaoka.

April has come. Finally a season with warm sunshine has arrived in Nagaoka. The cherry blossoms on the campus will be in full bloom in the middle of this month. Several places are famous for beautiful cherry blossoms in Nagaoka City, but cherry blossoms at Nagaoka University of Technology are glorious. We have the “NUT Sakura Sansaku Matsuri” every year. It is a festival to stroll through cherry blossoms by making a road lined with cherry trees for pedestrians only during the weekend in mid-April. This year it will be held for two days on April 12 and 13: a week earlier than usual. Enjoy the cherry blossom festival and various events to be held concurrently.

I believe that the real purpose of education at a university is to help students who have different abilities to create the foundation on which the abilities can flower to the utmost degree when viewed 10 years and 20 and 30 years hence, when those flowers become the pillars of society. If you can follow my understanding, then you students must find out your various potentials to which you can trust your life and livelihood while being at university, and polish, improve, and continue to spare no effort to make them your own through learning, through research, through collaborative activities with society, and through international exchange. To ensure the continuation of the effort, it goes without saying that one must nurture grand dreams independently and continue to hold onto personal passions to fulfill your dreams.

This is related to what I have just said, but as a matter of course the university treats you as an adult individual. From now on, while obtaining rights as an adult, you are required to make choices for everything by yourself. You will bear the responsibility. On that basis, it is necessary to build friendships and trust with many people and further shore up the foundation to realize your own claims. In addition, one must recognize the fact that the place of education and research, university, is not merely a place for specialized study and the pursuit of truth, but also a place to promote your own character building through interactions with widely diverse people, from teachers, students from higher and lower grade levels, international students, and local people. Moreover, through extracurricular activities, you must make efforts at creating global human networks while at the university.

Here I will touch briefly on Nagaoka University of Technology. Actually, NUT was founded 38 years ago, in 1976, as an engineering graduate university based on a new concept, with several important features that regular universities do not have.

The first feature that I would like to mention is that 80% of the students who enter Nagaoka University of Technology transfer to the third year of undergraduate programs from 57 national, public, and private colleges of technology located in almost every prefecture throughout Japan. The remaining 20% of the students are enrolled in the first year from industrial or regular high schools. No university like this exists, with the sole exception of Toyohashi University of Technology.

Therefore, most students who are enrolled in Nagaoka University of Technology have a clear sense of purpose, believing that “I am going to live in the world of technology,” at the time of graduating from junior high school. They entered colleges of technology or industrial high schools, worked hard, and learned from others through study there, and polished “monodukuri (manufacturing) technology”. As engineers, they are enrolled in NUT after having grown up to the level at which they can be active in society. For that reason, cooperating strongly with technical colleges and industrial high schools, NUT developed a long-term integrated educational system of junior high and senior high schools, during 9–12 years, which regular universities cannot do. Under the system, NUT has worked on education and research aiming at innovation based on GIGAKU and has produced leading engineers and researchers who excel in practical and creative ability and who can be active globally. The number of those people has reached more than twenty thousand. When combined with the number at Toyohashi University of Technology, as established with a similar purpose, it is the fifth place after Tokyo Institute of Technology, Osaka University, The University of Tokyo, and Kyoto University. We must have contributed to the development of manufacturing industries in Japan much more significantly than either Kyushu University, Nagoya University, Tohoku University, and Hokkaido University, which are all former imperial universities. Be conscious of that fact and be proud of it. However, this important fact has not been recognized widely throughout society in general, although it is truly disappointing when viewed in some perspectives. I would like all parents, to say nothing of you students, to recognize that fact anew, make it known widely, and be proud of it.

The second feature is the fact that since 38 years ago when joint research between universities and companies was regarded as being bad and was seen as taboo, Nagaoka University of Technology promoted industry–academia–government cooperative activities ahead of other universities, which are now positioned as an important mission of university, and which are actively developing joint research with companies.

The third is the distinctive educational curriculum. A main feature is the long-term internship system that dispatches all students who are planning to go to graduate school to companies for four to six months in the latter half of the fourth year. Nagaoka University of Technology calls the system internship training. It dispatched about 14% of students to foreign companies for six months in 2013. Being ahead of the needs of society, NUT has been implementing long-term internship training for more than 30 years without financial support from the Japanese government. No university other than NUT has realized even most of the system yet.

The fourth is active international exchange. We have been pursuing strategic efforts as a university. Ahead of regular universities, we developed a unique educational program for international exchange and have achieved significant results in an interactive way. The ratio of international students reaches more than 13%, which is approximately three times higher than the average of all national universities. The current Minister of Education and Science of Mongolia is a graduate of Nagaoka University of Technology. Numerous other students who studied at NUT serve in active roles throughout the world.

Japanese society today is exposed to tremendous challenges that include rehabilitation and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, which might be an unprecedented crisis for the nation, the rapid progress of declining birth rates and an aging population, increasing competition as a result of globalization, the hollowing of industry, and regional disparities. For such an environment, universities must undertake important roles more than ever as organizations that present the future to the people and you students and take the lead. However, the pace of social change is extremely high; I feel that many people are seized with anxiety about an uncertain future. For those people and you students to exercise your own abilities at ease, universities need always to emphasize clearly the visions of 10 years and 20 and 30 years ahead and show that steady progress has been made towards them.

That is to say, in addition to presenting dreams to the future to you students, sharing the dreams and improving the environment that enables efforts towards them are the most important responsibilities of present-day universities. So I believe.

One dream is to produce innovation by making full use of the resources, such as environment, human resources, natural resources, and technology, that Japan possesses and to develop high-quality engineers and researchers who take on that, by clearly presenting the ideal future society and the target vision and based on GIGAKU which Nagaoka University of Technology has constructed since its founding.

Nagaoka University of Technology is not necessarily large compared to many large universities offering general education. However, by strongly cooperating and collaborating with technical colleges and industrial high schools in Japan which share common goals and further by taking in the energy of regional community with which NUT or each national college of technology have contact, I am implementing a plan to construct a world-leading, huge, future creative type campus with the diversity and extensity unprecedented in the world here in Nagaoka and to expand to the world, particularly in the developing countries, this long-term higher education system of which we can be proud.

For that purpose, first of all the greatest responsibilities as university are sharing dreams with people involved in Nagaoka University of Technology, with people involved in technical colleges and high schools, and with people in the regions and society in which they are established, and with people in the world, and then improving the environment in which you students can be active towards your dreams. To improve environments like this, universities must always autonomously carry out reforms. To this end, in August 2011, NUT formulated medium-to long-term growth strategies with an eye toward 10 years and 20–30 years hence, and an action plan to implement them steadily. We have been accomplishing them regularly.

At the stage of conducting the activities with an eye to the medium to long term, although it was already introduced into the announcement of Graduation and Completion Ceremony on March 25, we are already having great results. To be more specific, regarding the activities of you students, I can list the following:

  1. The number of students who participated in extracurricular activities has increased by approximately 1.6 times over the last three years.
  2. In their extracurricular activities, students won the second prize in the Robocon project category of 2011 NHK University Robocon, the third prize and Best Idea Award in 2012, and the third prize and Best Engineering Award in 2013, as well as winning victories in the Catch Robo Battle Contest. In addition, the members of the bicycle club ranked among the winners in nationwide races, and the rubber-ball baseball team made a strong showing in national tournaments.
  3. The number of cases in which students were awarded for their presentations at academic conferences at home and abroad has increased considerably.

The following are some examples of results obtained through collaboration between students and teaching staff.

  1. Regarding the number of citations reflecting the level of research, the field of materials science was ranked 31st among all world universities. The field of automatic control systems was ranked 160th worldwide.
  2. Joint research with companies has become active. After considering the number of researchers, the number of the joint studies ranks top among all universities, and third, following The University of Tokyo and Kyoto University, in terms of the amount of funding.
  3. The number of NEDO projects that young researchers have won is the highest among all universities.
  4. Employment rates for undergraduates and for postgraduates are always in the top class among all universities. The turnover rate within three years is extremely low, which is approximately one-sixth to one-tenth of the average of university graduates.
  5. The ratio of international students is approximately three times higher than the average of all national universities. One in about every seven is an international student. We are already successful in our efforts at the globalization of our campus.

I am considering obtaining help from you students for the management of the university. Actually, today we are broadcasting this entrance ceremony live through the internet assisted by students, and it is students who are making the top page of the Nagaoka University of Technology website. I would like you to be proud of studying and conducting research under the distinctive programs and environments that other universities do not, keep on challenging your limits with confidence, big dreams, and hopes, grow up as an important asset to Japan and to NUT, and become a member to support NUT. It is you who are creating the future of Japan.

Nagaoka University of Technology has been aiming at the environmental improvements necessary to construct a new campus in which students can be vividly active and the planning and acquisition of new projects to aim for additional sophistication of the functions of NUT. We have developed a system in which, if one studies hard, you will able to complete your graduate school program one to two years earlier than the rule. In 2013, seismic retrofitting of the first building of Mechanical Engineering Department, the creation of General Education and Research Building mainly for nuclear safety engineering, which started the year before last, and the installation of high-performance accelerator were approved. Their construction work will be completed soon.

The students take the leading role at the university. I am certain that enabling various students to maximize their respective abilities and vitalities increases the activity of the university. To do so, continuing to improve the environment in which students with shining eyes can play active roles, we would like to aim at the realization of a university that is looking forward to a future that we introduced earlier, in cooperation with you as students.

This year, we made school badges for students and teaching staff to have “love for our school,” take “pride,” and produce a sense of unity as an organization. Wear the badge at official events of the university. When you act as a student of Nagaoka University of Technology, try to act with pride as a student of NUT.

Nagaoka University of Technology is always looking to the future. We are striving to produce a creative campus leading to a brighter future with you.

Today I sincerely congratulate you all on your admission to Nagaoka University of Technology.