Hiroki Nagashima

First Major
Master of Science in Engineering
Master of Arts in Economics
Secondary Major
Graduate School of Economics
Research Subject

Robot Control for Human Support Based on Real-World Haptics

Basket Ball, Classical Guitar, Juggling

A Look Back at My Five Years in the Program

 The Leading Program: A continuous period of training and a turning point in life. Looking back on its five years, I realize that I gained an amount of knowledge that far surpasses what I could have imagined when I first joined, and that I experienced possessing a broad perspective, encounters with numerous new friends, and unquestionable growth. With fellow students, project professors, and mentors, I discussed “Science for the Development of a Super Mature Society,” the theme we have come to grips with through the program’s activities, with occasional focus on the macro scale and occasional focus on the micro scale. Then, at the end of the program, I prepared a “policy proposal,” an activity that is directly linked to my career path after leaving the program. And in the end, I came to embody the program’s opening objective of “seamlessly linking doctoral program activities and duties as a working member of society through the program.” Who could have predicted that I would achieve this?
 The person who initially motivated me to embark on this course was Associate Professor Seiichiro Katsura, who instructed me in my primary major in the Graduate School of Science and Technology. With a rousing lab slogan of “always with total commitment,” he taught me about the all-encompassing viewpoint of system design engineering, particularly in the area of robotic control. Professor Katsura did more than guide my research in my primary major; he also dealt with me squarely as an individual and accepted me “always with total commitment.” I cannot adequately express my gratitude for that.
 Writing a master’s thesis in my sub-major (in addition to the primary major I just mentioned) was a major challenge of the program. The person who so generously supported me in tackling this challenge was Professor Teruo Nakatsuma of the Graduate School of Economics. He presented me with a research topic—the spatiotemporal estimation of economic indicators of Japan’s individual prefectures based on Bayesian statistics—and carefully and thoroughly guided me through it. That I could progress so far as to be able to give presentations at academic conferences in Japan and abroad in just one year is, more than anything else, due to Professor Nakatsuma’s support.
Through my three years in the master’s programs of my primary major and sub-major, I learned about research and methodologies in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and control engineering on the engineering realm, and research and methodologies in macroeconomics, econometrics, and Bayesian statistics in the economics realm. You could say that these were the “visible” results of my studies. However, the value of learning both through the program could be described as a “vantage point for observing data and structures” that are common to both research realms but not directly obvious to the eye, and an “ability to see things broadly and open-mindedly” that allows comprehensive acknowledgement and acceptance of differences in the values and cultures of the two realms.
The person who helped me shape a broad perspective in a form that differed from my sub-major learning was Professor Yuichiro Takahashi, a lawyer and patent attorney who is a representative of Takahashi Hayashi and Partner Patent Attorneys. With extensive experience as an attorney and patent lawyer and supporter of small- and medium-size enterprise management and entrepreneurial ventures, and with ability to elicit diverse knowledge and pliable creativity, Professor Takahashi provided me with a great deal of guidance in my group project exercise (GPE). Looking back, I see that Professor Takahashi’s guidance incorporated both the “bold creativity to predict the future” and “precision to translate that creativity into reality” that I needed to prepare my policy recommendation. The program’s environment providing me with direct weekly guidance from mentors possessing diverse experiences in society was extremely beneficial. It allowed me to acquire knowledge, perspective, and creativity that cannot be learned in ordinary university education.
In the ways described above, my knowledge of diverse topics, perspectives, creativity, and power of imagination were shaped through the activities of my primary major, sub-major, and GPE. However, it was through my overseas experience that I could grow as a person. Here I am referring to my experience working in Thailand under my master’s program’s overseas internship, and the short yet jam-packed six months of overseas study in my doctoral program. I am particularly indebted to Professor Joel Burdick of my host university, the California Institute of Technology, who, despite my sudden appearance on the scene, allowed me to participate in a project to plan the orbits of spherical robots for exploring Mars and who guided my research.
 Reflecting on my activities in the program—my primary major, sub-major, GPE, overseas internship, and overseas study—I realize that their content thus far has primarily comprised items that are incorporated as visible program mechanisms. However, what raised the program’s value, including its aspects that are not directly visible, was the existence of its “watering hole”-like opportunities where students, instructors, and mentors affiliated with the program come together. Because a diversity of people gather at the “watering hole,” it sharpened various abilities and skills, including “research abstraction,” “presentation skills,” “tolerance,” “adaptability,” and “coordinative skills.” Particularly noteworthy here is that such learning opportunities signify true “self-reliance,” as everything from “things to be noticed” to “things to be learned” are left to the discretion of the individual.
 There were many within the program with whom I enjoyed mutual discussion and encouragement. However, I would like to give particular gratitude to the first group of RAs who have been with me on the front lines since the program’s launch. I feel nothing short of blessed to have comrades nearby with whom I can share the hardships, experiences, problem awareness, and other things that come from being in a doctoral program (already a very small community) and, even more, participating in this kind of program.
I have nearly used up this entire manuscript thanking everyone who has helped me in so many ways over this last five years. I suppose that shows just how many people have supported me. It’s possible that I will benefit from their help again after I enter the workforce. Nonetheless, even if only gradually, I hope to return what I have gained through my growth to everyone who has helped me, Keio University, and Japan.
Japan faces a great many challenges. However, within their number lie possibilities for change. And within their number lie possibilities for growth. To have a forward-leaning attitude, one of taking “possibility” beyond the realm of the “possible” into the realm of the “real”: This is something I have learned through my experience during these past five years and made part of my very being. I will continue to push forward and continue to grow, “always with total commitment.”

For Those Who Want to Know More About This Program