Report from Gunma Univ.
Through support from the SAKURA Exchange Program in Science, six Malaysian students and two faculty members from the Technical University of Malaysia Malacca (UTeM) visited Japan from September 10 (Sun.) to September 16 (Sat.), 2017.
During this short stay of about one week in Japan, we wanted to give Malaysian students the opportunity to learn through direct experience with research and education on advanced energy conversion technology at Gunma Univ. We also wanted students to develop an interest in learning at our university. Moreover, in order to encourage further visits to Japan in the future, we prioritized exchange with Japanese students.
On the first day of the program, Malaysian students went to Kiryu Campus to greet the Dean of the Department of Mechanical Science and Technology at Gunma Univ. Afterwards, the students toured eleven laboratories belonging to the department.
While touring the laboratories, students listened attentively to explanations on research activities. We were particularly impressed with how the students asked many questions during Q&A time.
At the welcome party, Malaysian students actively sought to deepen their interaction with Japanese laboratory students. When conducting fundamental experiments on heat transfer engineering in the laboratories, it was the first time for Malaysian students to use some experimental equipment. They resolved their uncertainties by consulting with Japanese students to conduct the experiment.
Malaysian students also conducted experiments on material that they had learned during classwork in Malaysia. In many cases, Japanese and Malaysian students engaged in active discussion regarding why the experiment produced certain results.
Furthermore, in order to promote academic exchange, Japanese and Malaysian students took turns giving research presentations in English. During Q&A time, students asked incisive questions and extremely active discussion was held. We were also surprised at how Japanese laboratory students asked many questions despite lacking English language proficiency.
In order to tour corporations in Gunma Pref., Malaysian students visited the Yajima Plant of Subaru Corporation. After listening to an explanation on topics such as the history of Subaru Corporation and automobile assembly processes, the students toured automated manufacturing lines and manual parts assembly lines in the factory. Students also received an explanation on quality controls such as inspections for finished parts. The students were surprised at the strictness of quality control.
Students also listened with great interest to an explanation of EyeSight technology. This showed their growing interest in advanced Japanese technology.
In order to experience Japanese culture, students spent one night at Kusatsu Onsen, a famous hot spring in Japan. Inspired by the atmosphere of the hot spring town, the female students expressed their interest in wearing yukata. The students dressed in yukata and strolled through the hot spring town, including an area where mineral deposits are harvested. They also experienced yu-momi, which is the traditional process of cooling hot water by using long paddles. Although they were only able to stay for one night, it was an excellent opportunity for experiencing Japanese culture.
According to questionnaires collected from the Malaysian students who were invited to Japan, all students felt that the program was outstanding.
After their direct experience with research and education at Gunma Univ., some of the students expressed their eagerness to study in Japan in the near future. Their earnest desire was evident from how they asked questions about procedures for studying abroad at Gunma Univ. and for receiving financial aid.
We truly hope that the SAKURA Science will continue to provide opportunities for outstanding young students from Asia and other regions to visit Japan for academic exchange.