Dear Tanaka Lab’s student blog reader,
After thesis and defense season, graduation season is coming for final year students. However, for undergrads 2nd year, this season might be different, yet very important, since they have to choose their laboratories. Here we will give a short introduction of how do we do research in Tanaka Shuji Lab, of course, from students' point of view!
General research topic in Tanaka Shuji Lab is about "MEMS".
MEMS (micro electro mechanical systems) is a very small device that is driven by electricity. Examples of MEMS in our daily life are acceleration sensors in smartphones and game consoles, or also microphones in smartphones. MEMS integrates the aspects of mechanical, electrical, optical, thermal, materials, and others, to finally be fabricated by microfabrication technology that is used for semiconductors. Nowadays, MEMS is used in wide applications, such as for automobiles, communications, robotics, biotechnology, medical welfare, infrastructure maintenance, and energy. Even in the hottest topics these days, the so called Internet of Things (IoT), MEMS technology is used to obtain various data for further development of artificial inteligence and deep learning process. Here in Tanaka Shuji Lab, we are prototyping various kind of MEMS, designing state-of-the-art, developing fabrication technologies, new materials, and even making MEMS in the system level that is ready for real application.
According to Tanaka-sensei, here is our research:
Because we are doing various researches on MEMS, almost every student are doing totally different things. Even students in the same year, they may have totally different research themes. To accomodate everyone's research, research groups are established in Tanaka Shuji Lab for members whose research themes are closely related. After joining Tanaka Shuji Lab, everyone will belong to any of these groups.
As of FY2015, we are divided into 6 groups in Tanaka Shuji Lab, as follows.1. Tactile Sensor and System Integration Group
Leader: Assoc. Prof. Masanori Muroyama2. Packaging, Installation, and Process Group
Leader: Assist. Prof. Hideki Hirano3. Piezoelectric Material & Device Group
Leader: Assoc. Prof. Shinya Yoshida4. Accoustic Device Group
Leader: Prof. Michio Kadota5. Themal, Optical and Bio-device Group
Leader: Assist. Prof. Takashiro Tsukamoto6. Fraunhofer ENAS Project Center Group
Leader: Assoc. Prof. Joerg Froemel
Basically, we are doing research under supervision of each group leader in daily basis. If something happen in our research, or if we find something interesting, we usually discuss it with the group leader first.
So, does it mean that if we belong to one group we will not know what the other's doing in the other group?
The answer is
Reason no. 1: Soudankai & Danwakai
In Tanaka Shuji Lab, we have 2 frequent progress report meetings. One is called soudankai, that is basically means consultation, and another one is called danwakai, that basically means seminar. Soudankai is held twice per month for every group, three groups at the same day with some groups are joined. In soudankai, we usually report what we have done in the past 2 weeks, what have we achieved, what problems have we faced, and what are we planning to do in the next 2 weeks. In soudankai, all group leaders and Tanaka-sensei is also there, so we may have some insightful ideas and advice from them.
Danwakai is a bit different than soudankai. Everyone have their turn for presentation around 3-4 times every year, and the presentation is done in front of all lab members. In danwakai, we hold an international conference style presentation with a student as a moderator, which is limited 40 minutes presentation session without any disturbance, and followed by 20 minutes Q&A session. But well, some people deviated from this rule. The presentations are done fully in english, and the materials should be uploaded to the server beforehand, so we have to carefully prepare ourselves. Here, questions may also come from lab members that belong to the other group. This danwakai might be a good training for students to make presentation in a good manner that is easily understandable.
Reason no. 2: Custom of teaching each others
In fabricating a MEMS device, we are using various kinds of processes and machines. To fabricate a good MEMS which process is better, which material is suitable, which machine should we use are of the challenges. And to find the answer, there is no way other than asking people that are more experienced, even people from the other group. Moreover, in MEMS fabrication, we are basically using many different machines, and we have to learn how to operate each machine from each responsible person (student or staff).
Reason no. 3: Open environment
Tanaka Shuji Lab is located in Kyodo-to (Research Bld. M.A.E / A15 on the map) room 113. All students, staffs, and professors are staying in the same room, so it is easier for discussions, even to discuss things that are not related to research. Moreover, Tanaka-sensei's room is also normally opened, so we can enter at anytime if we have something to discuss.
If we have some results, we are also able to go for conferences, and even to write journal papers. Tanaka-sensei said, "Research is to be published in conferences and journal papers!" Experience in giving presentations and writing papers will be very valuable for students. Moreover, by going to conferences we are also able to make discussions with many experts. In Tanaka Shuji Lab, this opportunity is opened for everyone.
Some students wrote their conference experience here:
Schedule in Tanaka Shuji Lab is 1 year research for bachelors, 2 years research for masters, and 3 years research for doctors. Bachelors deliver their defense in February, and submit their thesis in March for graduation. Masters do their pre-defense in December, make first thesis submission in January, then final defense and final thesis submission in February for graduation. We have to plan our experiments carefully to finish it in time, and not to be hurry near the deadlines. There are also some students who are continuing their research to the next level, i.e. bachelor research to master, or master to doctor.
There is some words from Tanaka-sensei that he usually delivers in the opening lecture for lab members.
"The key points of research process are detailed planning, bold execution and logical consideration. These are important for not only research but also other works.
Another important thing is to get the self-confidence that you completed the research process. In Japanese universities, there are few chances that students experience heavy intellectual or physical loads, if they do not perform research work satisfactorily. The students who did not study hard cannot stand the load of competitive works after graduation. I wish students to acquire both physical and intellectual strength."