Building connections to a smarter world: International students experience cutting-edge computational research in Japan’s Science City without worrying about language barriers
A world-wide search led Mateus Cruz to the University of Tsukuba.
The music-loving student from Santa Maria da Vitória in Brazil, faced a big decision after receiving his bachelor’s degree in computer science. With aspirations of working in a research institute, he wanted a graduate program that would give him the skills to innovate and lead technology development in the 21st century.
“I made my choice based on the academic conditions here — the faculty, infrastructure, and funding available are first-rate,” says Cruz. “And, on a personal level, I wanted the challenge of living in a culture very different from my own.”
The University of Tsukuba's Computer Science English program gives Cruz and his 11 other international classmates the opportunity to be on the frontline of Japanese research into large-scale computing, while taking their coursework in English. And being located in Tsukuba — a planned city with one of the world’s largest clusters of public research centers and innovative science start-ups — opportunities for groundbreaking, interdisciplinary collaborations abound.
“One of the most unique aspects of our program are the close ties we keep with the Center for Computational Sciences, one of Japan’s leading high-performance computing centers,” explains Claus Aranha, an assistant professor in the University of Tsukuba’s Department of Computer Science who specializes in bio-inspired algorithms and evolutionary computation. “In addition, many of our professors have a background with Japan’s national research institutes, or collaborate with them.”
Students in the Computer Science English program can choose to do research in ‘post-petascale’ technologies, where systems, software, and mathematical analysis combine to produce the next generation of number-crunching supercomputers. They can tackle the problem of handling ‘big data’ with improved human–computer interfaces. Or they might choose to find a home with world-class experts in artificial intelligence or robotics.
For Wenjie Lu, a student from China in the Machine Learning/Data Mining Lab, some of the most rewarding aspects of the program involve the chance to make contact with renowned researchers from many different cultures and specialties.
“I chose to study at the University of Tsukuba to help keep my English skills fresh in a Japanese environment and to take classes such as numerical simulations and search algorithms that are not normally available in Japanese,” says Lu. “Many of the teachers have global connections and experience, and the classes here have a different feel — more intense and more interactive.”
The diversity of the University of Tsukuba’s Department of Computer Science — in addition to their international backgrounds, nearly one-third of students are graduates of other universities — ensures connections are made between people with different experiences and abilities. According to Aranha, such cross-disciplinary networks are key to students’ success in finding post-graduate careers as researchers in both industry and academia.
“A lot of very important computer science research revolves around helping other fields advance with modeling and computation tools,” explains Aranha. “This kind of collaboration is very hard if both fields are working in isolation. We need to develop interdisciplinary computer science researchers who can transform their ideas into real-world applications.”
For more information about this program, please click here.