Welcome and congratulations to our new students enrolling today in the Kyoto Institute of Technology (KIT) Graduate School of Science and Technology. Today, we have 16 students enrolling in the master’s program and 18 students enrolling in the doctoral program.
The global fight against COVID-19, which unexpectantly brought terror and confusion to people around the world at the end of 2019, has yet to see an end. I am sure that those of you present today also faced many challenges up to now. This matriculation ceremony is also being held in a slightly simplified manner as compared to usual.
The Graduate School of Engineering and Design, which was established in 1965, was KIT’s first graduate school. This was followed by the Graduate School of Textile Science, in 1966. Both offered master’s programs. In 1988, the two programs were merged as the Graduate School of Science and Technology, which offers programs up to a doctoral level. Nearly 60 years have passed since a KIT graduate school was first established. Next year will mark the 35th anniversary since becoming the Graduate School of Science and Technology. KIT was founded in 1949, while its forerunners, the Kyoto College of Technology and the Kyoto College of Textile Fiber, were founded in 1902 and 1899, respectively. As such, the school has a history of over 120 years.
During that time, this school has made huge contributions to the modernization of Japanese industry since the Meiji period. In particular, after becoming KIT, the university has steadily continued to produce scientific engineers needed for Japan’s recovery and economic development following the end of World War II, fulfilling its role as a national university.
I am sure that you, too, sense that humanity and our planet are facing unprecedented, critical challenges. While there has been much advancement in medical technologies, there are still outbreaks of unknown infectious diseases, not limited to COVID-19, as well as diseases for which causes and treatments are still unknown at this point. What is more, the whole planet is experiencing extreme weather events thought to be triggered by global warming, causing the occurrence of natural disasters around the world. In terms of society, distortions caused by past economic and social activities are bringing about disparities that cannot be overlooked. They are triggering division among peoples and conflicts in various prats of the world.
As scientific engineers and researchers, what kind of learning and research should we engage in to address such challenges that involve differing targets and segments of society? While the existing scientific engineering academic systems that you have studied up to now will likely continue to be of value, is it sufficient? Above all, what will become of the coming future, planet, and humankind? As players in scientific technology and engineering, how can we contribute to ensure a sustainable future society?
What will our future look like?
Economist Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it,” although some attribute these words to Abraham Lincoln. Our future is not something that we should passively wait to happen. It is something to be actively created. In the mid-20th century, architect and thinker Buckminster Fuller said, “The best way to predict the future is to design it.” This is design thinking. The future that we are trying to create must be concretely designed. KIT unfolds a problem-solving approach, which incorporates design thinking, in its graduate school courses—this is known as the Design-centric Engineering Program, or dCEP. What is needed next is summarized in the quote, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it,” from Alan Kay, who is known as the father of personal computers. Is this not a most suitable maxim for those in engineering?
Our intention is to create the future, and so we design the future, and invent what is needed to realize it. Do we not want to live with the determination to create the future, especially at chaotic times like now in which we cannot see the future?
KIT is currently promoting the KYOTO AGORA project, which is being carried out by the Center for Possible Futures (CPF). Interdisciplinary discussions by faculty members take place at the CPF, which engages in activities for envisioning multiple possible futures imagined from unprecedented perspectives and develops agendas toward that future. I believe that what needs to be done from now is to endeavor to deliberate and collaborate, from a wide view, with people of different fields.
My hope is that you, too, will endeavor to go beyond your own area of specialization to deliberate and collaborate, from various positions, with diverse people while further honing your knowledge and skills in your own area of specialization—this, to accurately resolve the various challenges being faced by humankind and bring about their true happiness of humankind. Please do your best for this.
While brief, this concludes my address welcoming our new graduate school students.
September 26, 2022
President, Kyoto Institute of Technology