The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our lives, making us realize the limits of science and technology against formidable viruses. At the same time, through remote work and online lectures, we have become more aware of the importance and the future potential of digital transformation (DX). Many issues cannot be solved by technology alone. However, engineering is expected to play an increasingly important role in meeting the challenges of modern society, which has become ever more complicated and diversified.
The Institute of Industrial Science (IIS) at the University of Tokyo (UTokyo) is the largest university-affiliated research institute in Japan. With a commitment to pursuing academic truth, the UTokyo-IIS carries out a wide range of research and educational activities, such as cross-disciplinary research that transcends academic boundaries — which is a traditional feature of the UTokyo-IIS — as well as practical industry–academic collaboration, international collaboration, and hands-on research aimed at social implementation.
In 2019, we celebrated our 70th anniversary. During the past 70 years, there have been significant research accomplishments and we have succeeded in producing many outstanding members of society.
The UTokyo-IIS is a comprehensive engineering research institute that covers almost all fields of engineering, consisting of five research divisions. It has approximately 120 laboratories overseen by professors, associate professors, and lecturers. More than 1,200 personnel, comprising approximately 250 faculty members, 150 support members, and 800 graduate students and postdocs participate in research and educational activities that are responsible for producing excellent research outcomes and fostering outstanding talent.
Furthermore, there are 4 affiliated research centers that span multiple research departments, 8 internal centers, one collaborative research center, and an international collaborative research center that pursues international joint research. In addition to promoting original research in specialized fields, each laboratory systematically engages in interdisciplinary or international activities by using organizations such as the cross-disciplinary research centers.
In 2017, the Chiba Experiment Station was relocated from its original site in Nishi-Chiba to the Kashiwa Campus, and since 2020, the facility is operating as a Large-scale Experiment and Advanced-analysis Platform (LEAP). In addition, a completely new facility called the “Design-Led X Platform,” the first of its kind, has also begun operations in 2017.
Since the foundation of the UTokyo-IIS, we have been acutely aware that the significance of academic research in engineering lies in its real-world implementation. Not only have we created new academic fields through enhanced specialization and collaboration across disciplines, but we have also developed and deployed technologies that can contribute to solving problems in the real world. In addition, we have made it our mission to develop individuals who will shoulder the responsibility of developing and disseminating technology in the industrial world. The spirit and the sense of mission of the UTokyo-IIS since its establishment still live on, and we tackle various engineering-related issues in a practical manner as a pioneering organization advocating industry–academic collaboration.
Such achievements and such a proactive stance are widely recognized, along with the name SEIKEN (short name for IIS in Japanese). We seek to create a new “SEIKEN style” as we continue to pursue academic truth as a university research institute, contribute to the creation of new value through innovation, and aim for a multidisciplinary approach integrating humanities and sciences for implementation in the real world.
Although the UTokyo-IIS is the largest university research institute in Japan, it maintains a strong sense of unity as an organization. Using its agility and comprehensive capabilities, the UTokyo-IIS will continue to fulfill its role as one of the world’s top research institutes in the field of engineering. We believe that we will continue to make great contributions to society through research and education.
Professor Toru H. Okabe, Director General