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Akihiro NOJIRI

Portrait Visiting period August to November 2017
Visiting university Singapore University of Technology and Design
Visiting country and region Singapore

Content of the study program

At Singapore University of Technology and Design, I carried out research using polymers that are able to remember their shape, so-called Shape Memory Polymers (SMP), under Prof. Hashimoto, who was conducting research into micro fluidics and soft robots. The SMP that I used would return to their original shape due to the application of heat, regardless of how their shape had been changed. Traditionally, when SMPs were heated, this was done so using Joule heat, such as from an electric circuit, or by heating the entire sample in a reactor or a water tank filled with hot water, or other method. However, if the entire sample is heated, it is not possible to heat the SMP locally. On the other hand, when heating with Joule heat, the process of creating electric circuits is required. Therefore, we aimed to allow SMPs to be heated locally, and develop designs that do not require special manufacturing of the heat-applied parts such as circuits by printing SMPs with a 3D printer.

Study results

In the laboratory, I had weekly private meetings with my professor, and there were progress reports across the laboratory as a whole. This was my first time experiencing giving and listening to presentations in English; to begin with, I was not able to catch what the other people were saying completely. Because this was three months of learning, I became able to state my opinion in my private meetings with my professor, and became able to reliably catch what was being said in presentations. However, my speed of comprehension was slow, and I was still unable to chime in on discussions, so I hope to focus on this as a future goal.

In terms of research, I was able to resolve various problems originating in the 3D printers, and when actually working with SMPs, while at the same time, I was able to create SMPs that accorded with my objectives. I also intend to submit communications, in terms of the contents of my research during this period of study abroad.

My experience abroad

Since Singapore is home to people from a variety of countries, both the cultures and the English accents are diverse. As a result, I struggled a lot with English listening, but at the same time, it was a good experience for getting used to these things. Moreover, because I shared a house while living in Singapore, it was a good experience also, in that I came into contact other people’s cultures.

Most of the people in our laboratory had come to Singapore from abroad to work; there were not many chances where I could communicate with the local people. Therefore, I joined a community to which the locals belonged, so I could make friends. Together with these friends, I was able to experience local foods, and the kinds of things that only the natives know, such as the various attractions that are unknown to foreign people.

Influence on my future career

Before I was sent overseas, I assumed the likelihood that I would travel abroad in the future, such as on business trips after I become employed with a Japanese company, and felt that I probably wanted to improve my English level, and to experience other countries. However, through my livelihood in Singapore, I came to realize that I wanted to find work that would allow me to stay overseas for long periods of time. This was because I had several opportunities to speak with Japanese people working in Singapore, I felt both the joy and motivation of working abroad, and experienced various cultures, which enabled me to recognize the merits of other countries, and to become newly aware of Japan’s merits. As a result, I came to acknowledge that I wanted to work in a job where I can stay overseas for long periods, and spread understanding of Japan’s merits to other countries.

Other comments

I am sincerely grateful to the study abroad program, and to Prof. Hashimoto of the destination where I was accepted. I was able to actively pursue research abroad, freely, thanks to the support I received. As a result of the guidance I received from Prof. Hashimoto, I was able to engage in fulfilling research activities.

I also feel that had I not the support from the many people associated with the research exchange, I could not have been active in such a fulfilling way. I want to thank everybody involved.