Every year around March, a group of the Global Scientists and Engineers Program (GSEP) students, faculty members and staff head outside the campus for few days to explore the real world, learn, and of course have some fun. The GSEP Off-Campus Project is one of the key parts of GSEP students’ extracurricular activities. This project is aimed at enhancing GSEP students’ educational and social inspirations, as well as widening their horizons beyond everyday academic studies. It also familiarizes non-Japanese students with the Japanese working culture and environment. Meanwhile it provides grounds for a closer interaction among the faculty members and students which is crucial for a healthy and productive academic environment.
The 2023 Project activities were planned for three full days in Saitama and Tsukuba areas of Japan. During this activity, a group of GSEP students and faculty members traveled by bus to visit multiple scientific and industrial locations.
In this series, GSEP students will walk you through their adventures during the 2023 Off-Campus Project in four installments. Wijaya Mikael, a GSEP 2022 batch student from Indonesia, will tell us his stories first.
Embarking on an adventure like no other, I had the opportunity to explore the wonders of Saitama, Ibaraki, and Chiba prefectures as part of the GSEP Off-campus Project. From the first-year to the third-year students, along with some esteemed faculty members, GSEP members visited some of the most fascinating locations, including The Railway Museum, Canon Eco Technology Park, Science Square Tsukuba under the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST,) JAXA Tsukuba Space Center, Asahi Printech Funabashi, and the stunning Kasai-Rinkai Park.
As much as the places we visited were awe-inspiring, the off-campus project offered a unique opportunity for us, GSEP students, to bond and discuss various topics related to our academic experiences at Tokyo Tech and in Japan. It was truly a compelling and memorable experience for me, and I feel fortunate to have been part of it.
What stood out to me the most were the educational aspects of the project. I was fascinated by the progress of technology in Japan, especially in the train industry, as we delved into the historical, current, and future developments at The Railway Museum.
Rach, our GSEP 2022 batch student from India, has found The Railway Museum quite interesting. You can read more about Day 1 activities in her blog as the second part of this series.
Then, the visit to the Canon Eco Technology Park was a game-changer for me, as it offered an up-close look at the process of recycling and reusing machines. It was fascinating to see how scientific principles were applied to achieve the purification process, especially as they showed us interactive contraptions that we can actually use to learn how the process works. I left with a newfound appreciation for the hard work and dedication that goes into recycling on an industrial level.
The Science Square Tsukuba was equally inspiring, offering a glimpse into the forefront of scientific research, and sparking ideas about what I may want to pursue in the future. One of the highlights of my visit to AIST was the demonstration of the seal robots named “Paro.” They were really cute and I can clearly see how valuable they would be as companions for people undergoing therapy. The Science Square Tsukuba, and especially Paro, were Phraewa’s favorites as well in this Off-Campus Project. She is our other GSEP 2022 batch student from Thailand. Read more about her experiences in part (3) of this weblog series.
The next destination on the list was the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Space Center at Tsukuba. The marvels of spacecraft and aerospace technology at display on the spot really piqued my interest. Many kinds of models of rockets and satellites were on display, and detailed infographics and interactive tools really made my experience there. I think I was really able to appreciate how big of a contribution Japan has made to the development of space technology, and I am excited at how a great future for humankind lies beyond the horizons of space.
Wrap up of the visit to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Space Center was a group memory photo in front of the actual H-II rocket which is on display at the Rocket Square right after entering the main gate.
On Day 3, the final day, we visited the Asahi Printech, which is one of the main printing facilities of Japanese newspaper giant Asahi Shinbun. As people from the younger generation who are not very familiar with physical newspapers, visiting the printing facility was a very interesting experience as we were able to see firsthand how the printing process works and how they use certain technologies that are constantly improving. I was also surprised at the efficiency and speed of the factory, as the whole printing-to-delivery process that started when we entered the facility was finished by the end of our tour, which was done in roughly 30 minutes. Ivan and Pun, two other GSEP students, have their own stories of this factory. You may read more about some interesting printing techniques in their blog as part (4) of this series.
As a cherry on top, we ended our off-campus project with a visit to Kasai-Rinkai Park in Chiba which overlooks almost the entirety of the Tokyo Bay. The natural beauty of the Tokyo Bay and the grand scale of the seaside park was marvelous and it was just the perfect end to our three-day journey. Also, as a bonus, we got to see some early spring flowers bloom as well!
Nevertheless, what I cherished most about this experience was the opportunity to reflect and discuss my academic journey with my peers and esteemed faculty members. It was a truly enlightening and meaningful session, and I left feeling supported, empowered, and more connected with my teachers and fellow students.
Overall, the GSEP Off-campus Project was an eye-opening experience that left a lasting impact on me. I gained valuable insights, forged lasting bonds, and discovered a newfound appreciation for the technological and scientific wonders of Japan. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of it.