INTERVIEW
OISHI, shinichi
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 Please tell us about the features of the School of Fundamental Science and Engineering.
The philosophy of the School of Fundamental Science and Engineering is “emphasis on basic education without respect to science or technology.” Founded in 2007, the school is a gathering of departments that support that philosophy with the aim of expanding education and research based on mathematics and engineering.

The School encompasses a wide diversity of academic fields that at first glance might appear to be unrelated, ranging from mathematics, applied mathematics, and science to mechanical/electronic engineering, computer science and even the study of media and video as elements of intermedia art and science. All of them, however, share as their basis an emphasis on a solid grounding in mathematics. With such a solid grounding, students can become top-ranking contributors in any field.

Although the words “science and technology” are now used throughout Japan, it was Waseda University that established Japan’s first school of science and technology. At that time, Shigenobu Okuma declared the school of science and technology’s philosophy to be “doing engineering scientifically.” By this he meant that science and engineering are not separate, but linked disciplines that mutually reinforce one another. The coexistence of such a diversity of fields working under the same philosophy brings Okuma’s concept very close to realization.

Self-determination of scholastic path by entrance exam type

 I understand the backbone of the system by which students choose which department they will advance into in their second year is based on providing a choice of three types of entrance exams: mathematics, engineering, and media.
Some students can’t immediately decide which department they want to enter. A big advantage for them is the ability to take classes and then decide which department they want to advance into after working with the teaching staff.

In their first year, all students take the same classes with the exception of one department-specific course. I regard this is a manifestation of the departments’ common philosophy of equipping students with a solid grounding in basic skills. Common core courses are also provided for sophomores and later in the School of Fundamental Science and Engineering, providing an environment in which students can develop a firm grasp of the basics in science and engineering no matter what department they enter.
  Are there any other unique aspects to the backbone system?
In addition to their major course of study, students can also take courses in a minor field rom among the seven departments making up the school. Given the wide variety of subject fields, we want to encourage ambitious students to learn in more than one field. Studying in two different fields helps students learn to respond to demands outside of their field of major study, an ability that is sure to serve them well as they advance in their studies and go on to employment.

International courses are also provided that are conducted exclusively in English. Because of the emphasis on basic education, many foreign students, particularly from Asia, have a strong desire to take part in core studies.

Personally, I would like to put effort into “globalization” of Japanese students. Although students have a tendency to neglect their studies of English while they pursue their majors, they are very bright, and will learn without fail if provided with a suitable environment. Part of providing that environment is giving students the opportunity to make presentations in front of foreigners and to mix with people who cannot speak Japanese. As much as possible, I want to provide them with such opportunities during my tenure.

I want them to discover something about which they can be passionate.

  Please give us a message for those taking entrance exams.
The Waseda teaching staff undertakes world-class, cutting edge research, and the environment is one that is blessed with great facilities. Including the Arts, there are a total of thirteen departments, so practically no fields that are unrepresented. The four years of undergraduate school will form the basis for the rest of your life. As long as you are making the effort of university enrollment, I hope you will take full advantage of Waseda and not let yourself be confined to core subjects.

What’s more, I would like you to find something about which you can participate in with true passion, whether that be research, club activities, or hobbies. If you find that passion, the more you advance at Waseda, the more you can build on your scholastic excellence to achieve any dream or goal. We hope you bring your aspirations to Waseda University and the School of Fundamental Science and Engineering.
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