Message from the Department Head
“Engineering” is strongly linked with “Welfare of mankind”. The welfare can be achieved not only by a technical innovation but also by a development of sustainable society (environment) considering a public safety, health, and human services through a broad range of science. To achieve the welfare, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is proposed by United Nations. In Japan, the government goes forward with Digital Transformation (DX) and Green Transformation (GX) so as to innovate an economical- and social-system.
Nuclear engineering is applied to various fields, such as an energy system (power generation) by fission and fusion, and a manufacturing, measurement technology and medical treatment by laser or quantum beam. Nuclear engineering is one of the keys to achieve SDGs, DX and GX, addressing issues such as energy security (, in which a reasonable amount of energy should be supplied at a reasonable cost with considering the impact of environment), and climate change, healthy living, and inclusive and sustainable smart industries.
Nuclear engineering is a cross-disciplinary branch of science that brings together a wide range of subjects from science and technology to the social sciences. In that sense, nuclear engineering attracts people not only from many fundamental branches of science, such as physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science, but also from various fields of engineering, including mechanical and materials engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, chemical engineering, artificial intelligence, and quantum technology. And thus, it can be said that nuclear engineering will lead to further development in those branches and fields.
After Fukushima Dai-ich nuclear power plant accident triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on 11th March 2011, we have reviewed the education and research policies to cultivate human resources with continuous questionary attitude against unknown issues and faithful development of technology, and with the ability to make an effective and integrated decision-making taking continual awareness of various risks into account. To achieve those abilities, one should have a capability to consider all aspects, including energy problems, environmental issues, climate change, economic efficiency, and security, from an international, comprehensive, and all-inclusive perspective. Furthermore, it is also important to consider things from the perspective of a resilient society and technologies that lose as little functionality as possible under unforeseen circumstances and that recover quickly. Thus, our department (Department of Nuclear Engineering and Management) also commits to research and education of management skills that cover both technology and society.
The sustainable society cannot be achieved only by one’s own country. Thus, an international collaboration will be of importance. In our department, international collaboration, such as overseas educations and short period assignment to international organizations, has been conducted to promote an education and research for integration of technical engineering and social science. I hope that young talents from a wide variety of backgrounds will get together at our department, collaborate with people from other fields while perfecting their own area of specialization, and grow into leaders, who equipped with an international and comprehensive perspective, will be the pioneers of a prosperous future.
Head of Department
Department of Nuclear Engineering and Management Takashi TakaTa
The aim of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Management
Building a sustainable society
The previous century was an age of the pursuit of material affluence based on science and technology, but now in the 21st century, mankind is seeking to establish a sustainable society in harmony with the global environment. This is a complex problem containing a web of many elements, i.e., the balance between economic activities that support an affluent lifestyle and the handling of environmental issues such as global warming. With the globalization of international society, the situations in other countries and their policies could influence the economic activities and environmental policies of Japan. We must weave our way through this complex web and continue to cooperate in searching for the path to development. We are involved in education and research on nuclear energy and radiation as well as its utilization technologies, which offer a realistic solution based on scientific and technological knowledge. Especially in recent years, this country is demanding that we produce leaders who can handle international cooperation, including plant export. To this end, in addition to its technological disciplines such as work on nuclear energy and radiation, the Department is involved in international cooperation for education and research with added humanities and social science aspects, including sending its members to international organizations and prominent foreign universities.
Learning from the Fukushima nuclear accident
We have reviewed the education and research policies of this Department in light of the important opportunities presented by the accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant (the Fukushima nuclear accident) triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. The background to and root causes of the Fukushima accident are set out below; we must learn from them for the future.
(1) The importance of integrating technology and society
Japan has always put great effort into designing to prevent accidents, but preparations for the post-accident phase were insufficient. Serious consideration should have gone into how to handle the situation when an unexpected risk is exposed.
One of the reason why measures that were, in hindsight, obviously necessary were not taken is the emergence of a social issue that transcends the boundaries of technology; in recent years, the gap between the level of safety that the general public expects and the engineer's expectations of safety has been widening. The ability to integrate technology and society becomes more and more important: we must become aware that the environment surrounding nuclear power is complex, vast and changing. It is becoming ever more necessary to understand the people, society and cultural backgrounds of Japan and the other countries of the world, and for societies to achieve a level of literacy based on progressive education (ethics, risks, communication, etc.).
(2) Balance between conceptual skills and a panoramic perspective
While meticulous verification was carried out on the loading and a wide scope of possible scenarios was envisioned when the plant was designed, the scope of this envisioning was insufficient with regard to important checkpoints for system safety in the event of a tsunami causing a total loss of power. There was excessive focus on detail while significant system defects were overlooked.
The environment surrounding nuclear power has become complex and vast, and both conceptual skills based on fundamental knowledge that has been acquired systematically and a panoramic perspective that transcends borders between fields and organizations and that can grasp the overall picture are necessary.
Building a resilient society and international cooperation
The Fukushima nuclear accident gives us an opportunity to completely review our cultural limitations. In line with this, we are formulating a research plan so that we may learn from these lessons, minimize damage and recover quickly should an accident occur, and establish a stronger system with higher safety levels than before the accident. We believe that such research will contribute to improving nuclear safety all over the world, and will help to make other equally complex and vast industrial fields more robust.
Human resources this Department aims to foster
To meet the above needs, this Department aims to foster human resources with the following qualities.
1. Human resources who have a good understanding of people and society
In addition to the fundamentals of nuclear science and technology, a basic education on people and society that comprises social literacy including risk communication and ethics based on an understanding of knowledge, attitudes, internal and external cultures, points of view, common sense, etc.
2. Human resources who have built upon a progressive education to acquire knowledge and a systematic way of thinking about nuclear safety, energy, and the basics of radiation science and their applications
Systematic lectures comprising core programs, specialized basic courses and advanced courses will be provided to efficiently teach the basic knowledge (basic nuclear science and technology) that students majoring in nuclear energy need in order to form a complete picture of a problem.
3. Human resources who can handle research, development, planning, design, production, management, policy proposals, etc. in an academic setting and how to make use of academics in various fields in a responsible manner with an international perspective
Interdisciplinary project-based exercises develop conceptual skills, a panoramic perspective and leadership through experience in specialist fields in various laboratories and through undertaking cutting-edge research topics.
4. Human resources who can contribute to the sustainability and development of society by becoming pioneers in unexploited fields and boldly pursue research that can lead to new technological innovation
These human resources will be able to contribute to the sustainability and development of society by becoming pioneers in unexploited fields and boldly pursue research that may lead to new technological innovation through project-based exercises (PBL) made possible by collaboration between domestic and international organizations, and research at master,s thesis and doctoral thesis levels.
Department of Nuclear Engineering and Management Guidance Book
Department of Nuclear Engineering and Management
School of Engineering, the University of Tokyo
7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8656