Study in Japan: One student tells you why you should

The Department of Mechanical Engineering has once again partnered with the Nagoya University Summer Intensive Program (NUSIP), to provide third and fourth-year students the opportunity to study automotive engineering in Japan this summer. The program includes language training and a six week intensive course in automotive engineering at Nagoya University with opportunities for cultural experiences throughout. The course provides a comprehensive introduction to automotive engineering as well as broader aspects of the industry, such as manufacturing, marketing and environmental science.

Applications for summer 2018 are available now and are due at the end of February. To learn more about NUSIP contact Professor Michael Lipsett, mlipsett@ualberta.ca.

Adriaan Booysen took the time to share his experience.

Why did you pursue the Nagoya University Summer Intensive Program?

I have known for a long time that I wanted my career path to be within the automotive industry. I heard about NUSIP in my second year and applied as soon as I became eligible. Even though the U of A’s Mechanical Engineering Department offers an extensive list of electives, there are only a limited number of purely automotive centered classes. This is why I saw NUSIP as a valuable opportunity to pursue my interests. The decision was also made easier by the existence of several avenues for financial support, including a scholarship through the Japanese JASSO scholarship, which covered a large portion of the program cost. 

What was it like when you arrived?

Upon arrival, we met the other students. There were about 40 students from all around the world, including the U.S.A, China, and Italy. Most participants were undergraduate Mechanical Engineering students. For the initial orientation, we took a tour of the Nagoya campus, which was very easy to navigate, and attended a traditional Japanese feast hosted by the Nagoya University Engineering department. The food and a bit of beer made for a great, mostly customary, introduction to the staff.

What were your days like during the program?

The daily schedule in Nagoya consisted of 3 hours of Japanese language class in the mornings, which were interesting and pretty easy to follow. The teachers were very patient, which we appreciated. Homework was assigned occasionally. By the end the instruction brought my Japanese language skills to a point where I could loosely communicate and carry out daily conversations in Japanese.

Some time was then allotted for lunch after which 3 hours of automotive engineering lecturing started. There were a total of 14 lectures, each one addressing a new topic in the automotive industry. The lecturers were either Nagoya Engineering professors or industry professionals. One of the most memorable lectures was given by a former engineer from Toyota’s F1 aerodynamics team. The lectures were designed to give us as much information as possible within the three hour time limit. Any further learning came in the form of short essays assigned for each lecture. It was up to us to use those to dive further into the concepts covered during the lecture. 

Did you get time to see the sights and have some fun?

A big selling point for the program was the included tours and excursions. These made up some of the most memorable parts for me. We went through the factories and research centers of Toyota, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, and Yokohama Tire Corporation. At the Yokohama Tire Corporation we were shown the processes and machinery central to their tire production process. The Mitsubishi Okazaki Plant tour gave us an all access look at the production line of the Outlander and that process. Lastly, at Toyota they took us into the top secret Higashi-Fuji Technical Center where we saw a small overlap crash test, their industry leading driving simulator, and a “hot” lap around their high-speed oval in a tour bus.

There were also lots of cultural tours and excursions to some of the more notable historical sites in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, and Osaka. On weekends without scheduled events, we were given free time to explore, with several traveling recommendations being given by the staff. 

What would you say to other students considering the program?

Japan is a unique and breathtakingly beautiful country, with polite residents and endless opportunities to explore. The car culture was incredible to experience. The Japanese approach the automotive industry with the meticulousness of the Germans but manage to do it in their own way and it was truly exceptional being able to experience it first-hand, so if you have an interest in the automotive industry, then consider this exchange.

To learn more about NUSIP contact Professor Michael Lipsett, mlipsett@ualberta.ca.