Greetings from the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering

椹木先生学部長写真Next year, 2022, Kyoto University will celebrate its 125th anniversary. Kyoto Imperial University was founded on June 18, 1897 (Meiji 30), and Kyoto University started as a science and technology university (predecessor of the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering). In that sense, the history of Kyoto University is also the history of the Faculty of Engineering. It is said that the background to the unification of science and technology was the aim of integrating the fundamentals and applications. Indeed, it is a tradition that has been passed down since the university was founded.

By the way, what is the engineering mission? Often the question is how engineering differs from science and technology. Science focuses on recognizing universal laws, that is, understanding the fundamental laws of nature that make up the universe. Technology further means the practice of creating a concrete system with valuable functions. On the other hand, engineering is a systematic collection of scientific knowledge with specific goals of technology. It is a characteristic that only Japan has in the world that engineering has developed as an academic field. By translating engineering into "Kou-Gaku," engineering as an academic discipline became clear in Japan. The Faculty of Engineering was able to occupy a primary place in the university in Japan ahead of other countries, which turns out in the founding of Kyoto University.

Engineering is an academic field dealing with human-made objects (i.e., artifacts) in a broad sense. What is the definition of artifacts? Does the artifact mean a thing made by a human? It still lacks another essential feature of the artifact. It is characterized by "what is used by humans." It would not be an artifact if humans did not use it. Thus, engineering is called a science with a specific goal. Artifacts always entrust with a particular function in their structure. The history of artifacts begins with the birth of humankind. According to Prof. Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, who worked as a President of the University of Tokyo in the past, humans in the ancient era developed artifacts for representations that externalize faith. Then, they created artifacts for their survival and convenience. In the modern era, artifacts have undergone a transition as objects for sustainability.

Under the leadership of the United Nations, the discussion of sustainability for humankind, that is, the SDGs (SDGs) under the abbreviation of "Sustainable Development Goals," is being discussed worldwide. As you know, the SDGs were adopted at the United Nations Summit in September 2015, with 17 goals set by 193 UN member states to achieve in the 15 years from 2016 to 2030 and 169 targets under those goals. Engineering is involved in almost all of these development goals. The essence of the SDGs is that the 17 goals are interrelated, and a comprehensive solution of them will genuinely lead to a solution. The "Earth" system constitutes the whole in the interrelationships between the individual and the whole and keeps harmony with the environment over time in a constant state (i.e., steady-state). Therefore, if a part of it were destroyed, its effects would spread out to the whole in an interrelated manner. All people engaged in engineering would be requested to pay attention to this kind of global perspective.

For you students who engaged in the entrance exams, answers were always available for every question, and you could find them precisely. You will be in trouble if there is no answer. However, in undergraduate school, you have exceptional research experience in the 4th year (i.e., graduate work), facing problems without solutions. This experience is a valuable opportunity to learn that you must challenge a world for which no answer has yet been found. Because no answer is available, you may face anxiety, but your efforts drown this out. Graduate work is a unique study that makes you think about how you should act and respond in the face of an unknown world and your first involvement with a situation you have never met. You will carry out this work in the laboratory to which you are assigned. While there is an education system centered on a curriculum for efficient "learning," there is another way of learning that "cannot be taught," that is, drawing out the learner's proactive interpreting efforts and making them think about how to behave. It is learning enabled in the laboratory. It is also a feature of learning entrusted in the field research, a preserved tradition since the founding of Kyoto University. We hope that you will enjoy the encounter with the unknown by freely traveling around each research field with your own feet.