Message from the Dean

岩手大学理工学部 学部長   八代 仁

Iwate University Faculty of Science and Engineering Dean Hitoshi Yashiro

Open your future through “Soft-Path”

There used to be a time in Japan where city concentration and expansion were a major trend in society. Today, various issues such as frequent natural disasters and rural decline due to aging population are becoming more prominent. Therefore, these issues may also indicate the direction innovation should go next.

 What are the alternatives to concentration and expansion? Now we have recognized that the centralized social structure was brittle and unstable. In the Heisei era, we have learned about the power of nature and are beginning to feel the threat of global warming. What is needed instead of concentration and expansion would be decentralization and stabilization.

 What kind of society should we build in the future? This question cannot be irrelevant to everyone studying at the Faculty of Science and Engineering. In order to build a society that is oriented toward decentralization and stabilization, various technologies backed by the sciences are required. Considering energy, for us to live in an area with peace of mind, we first need food and energy. How to establish renewable energy (soft energy) that takes advantage of the characteristics of the region is required. Thinking about transportation, as the number of accidents by the elderly increases rapidly, the wisdom of technicians is also required, as to what kind of local transportation network to build. With information communication, only engineers can implement AI and IOT technologies that are attracting attention today in society. Even happiness is not unrelated to science. Did you not applaud the return of the Hayabusa spacecraft? It is the privilege of scientists that the accumulation of knowledge can be returned to society with a sense of happiness.

Iwate University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering has long advocated the contribution to building a safe and secure society through the philosophy of education and research. This philosophy is included in the slogan of the Faculty of Engineering, “Soft Path Science and Engineering”. Soft = flexible and gentle → sustainable. Path = path to goal → technology (to achieve goal). In order to practice soft path science and engineering, you also need soft academic ability. Mathematician Tsuyoshi Mori pointed out in his book, “The day when the University of Tokyo goes bankrupt” (Chikuma Bunko), that recent students are getting indifferent to soft academic ability though they are eager for hard academic skills. He states that soft academic abilities are like “cultural abilities”. Spread through compassion and cultural interest.” Hard scholastic abilities are “directly linked to fragmented expertise, especially in the case of qualifications.”

 It doesn’t mean that hard academics are not needed. However, with only hard academics, we run the risk of making the same mistakes of aiming for the apparent efficiency of concentration and expansion. Soft people with the flexibility to stop and think at times are needed now. Please be a challenger to an unexplored path in this faculty with the idea of soft path to open your future.