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Co-Creating “Next-Generation Advanced Re-education for Working People”

Interdisciplinary knowledge and practical skills useful for new industries and innovation

Students in this program are primarily researchers and technicians currently active in their fields. The program aims for students to get a grasp on the current state of nanoscience and nanotechnology and acquire interdisciplinary knowledge, cross-disciplinary vision, and practical skills, all of which will be helpful in next-generation industry and innovation, through a year of night courses (including long-distance courses via teleconference) and short-term training.

"Nanoscience and nanotechnology have taken root in a wide range of areas as interdisciplinary fundamental science and technology that serve as the common basis for cutting-edge science, technology, and industry. But, in order to create new fields of discipline and industry with a view to the future of Japan, we need a place of learning where we can go back to the basics and study systematically," said Director Yasufumi FUJIWARA of the Osaka University Institute for NanoScience Design.

The program consists of 7 courses that meet the reeducation needs of society, including “Computational NanoMaterials & NanoDevice Design,” “NanoElectronics & NanoProcessing,” “Supra-Molecules & NanoBioprocesses,” “Nanostructure Characterization & Analysis," “Energy and Environmental Nanotechnology," "Nano-Materials Chemistry," and "Spintronics Design."

Programs allowing participants to pursue a PhD while working full time are also available

In addition to these 7 courses, a new course entitled  "Nanoscience Special Course for part-time students" was established this academic year, allowing participants to pursue a PhD on the condition that they obtain recommendations from their companies. This is a unique, advanced course for allowing individuals to pursue a doctorate degree and aims for reeducation and degree acquisition for working people. This course will provide never-before-seen synergy through debates and discussions between professionals of various ages and backgrounds and regular students.

Industry-university consortium for industry-university collaboration discusses direction and content of education

Currently in these course, some 80% of students are between the ages of 25-35. Each course consists of "night classes," "Saturday intensive courses," and "short-term intensive practicums (mandatory)," and students study everything from fundamentals to application based on the knowledge of a 4th year undergraduate students in math and science majors. "The elective Saturday intensive courses are mixed classes with graduate school students. Through small-group discussions between experienced professionals and graduate students currently performing cutting-edge research, they will develop their design prowess to disseminate nanoscience technology and their collective strengths to allow them to consider societal effects of the latest technology as well. In the mandatory short-term intensive practicum, students who participate in distance learning at satellite campuses visit the university, where all members of the course receive laboratory training in small groups. In addition to experiencing the university's cutting-edge research, participating in these intensive courses also serve as a way to build networks with individuals from other companies," said Vice Director Itoh. Students develop a sense of camaraderie while studying and deepening relationships in this one-year course, with some like-minded individuals who completed the program holding get-togethers.

This program is characterized by a strong backing from the corporations participating in this consortium. Over 50 corporations have participated in the consortium thus far, putting into practice "mutual human resource development through industry-university collaboration" based on the principles of industry-university co-creation. The planning and management committee members of participating corporations discuss and coordinate the direction and content of the curriculum of this program to prevent a mismatch between the curriculum and societal needs.

Aiming to become a think tank through high-level human resource development

Vice Director Itoh spoke about these part-time students, saying, "They have a precise study goal, so their levels of enthusiasm are different from those of undergraduate and graduate students. We, faculty members, are occasionally caught off guard by unexpected questions from students active in different fields. We learn from each other," he laughed. As for the future, he said, "I hope our Institute for NanoScience Design becomes a think tank that will play a role in new science and technology through human resource development. We'd also like to work with corporations to develop new long-term research themes and create a place in which graduates can thrive. We hope this program becomes the driving force to accelerate nanoscience, which is the common base for manufacturing."

Director Fujiwara also voiced his confidence, saying, "This program is unprecedented in its scale, with 6 graduate schools and 5 laboratories and research centers and more than 100 faculty members involved in the program. We think what we should do as a university by opening up our window to society and corporations to co-create education that fits with the times. This is truly next generation industry-university collaborative education."

Voice of the student

Even beginners can develop their skills to a practical level in this program

Analysis Technology Research Center, Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.

Tomohiro DOI

Completed the 2016-17 Nanostructure Characterization & Analysis at the top of the class

My responsibilities at work include analyzing our semiconductor devices. I learned about analysis starting from the basics, so I have become able to look at data with in great depth without missing necessary data that requires difficult interpretation. As my great success in this program, I learned to use electron microscopes. The growth of its usage is expected at my company.

It wasn't easy to balance classes and work, but I'm happy that I was able to attend every class. The short-term intensive practicum in the summer was quite enjoyable. I was able to connect with all of my classmates and build broad connections.

I want to gain more experience moving forward and contribute to development of the most reliable semiconductors in the world. My company recommends this program. Even beginners can develop their skills to a practical level, so I encourage my juniors to participate.

• Sumitomo Electronics, Ltd.  

Founded in 1897, Sumitomo Electronics, Ltd., headquartered in Kitahama, Osaka, is Japan's largest manufacturer of nonferrous metals. Expanding its activity based in power line and cable manufacturing technology, Sumitomo Electronics is currently developing international business in 5 division: automobiles, telecommunications, electronics, environmental energy, and industrial materials. With the world's top share in a number of products, Sumitomo consists of some 390 companies in more than 40 countries on 5 different continents, with over 240,000 employees.

Voice of the corporation

Providing students with balanced knowledge and techniques in a wide range of fields

Director, Energy Materials Project Office and Materials and Devices Laboratory, Advanced Technology Research Laboratories, Panasonic Corporation

Eiji FUJII

This program allows students to obtain advanced expertise, as well as broad academic knowledge required to develop products, so we actively utilize it as one of our human resource development programs.

In a period of drastic changes in business environment and technology, no individual or corporation can survive if they simply rely on their expertise in a single field. This course provides students with knowledge and techniques in a wide range of fields that will expand their horizons and lead to innovation in the future. Every year, about 10 individuals from my corporation participate in this program. Since they're participating by their own volition, they have a very positive attitude for learning.

I think these courses will be even more attractive to corporations if they are gradually updated so that they become new education programs that include interdisciplinary fields.

• Panasonic Corporation  

Founded in 1918 by the late Konosuke MATSUSHITA. Under the motto "A Better Life, A Better World," Panasonic undertakes production, sales, and service in everything from parts to household electronics, electrical appliances, factory automation (FA) devices, information transmissions devices, and housing related devices. There are 578 companies within the Panasonic Group, with some 270,000 employees in the world-class general electronics manufacturer.

This is a reprint of the article posted in the Osaka University NewsLetter No. 77 (Autumn 2017).

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