Students Voice- Students Interviews


Muhammad Salman Al Farisi

  • Major: Robotics
  • Year:Doctorate, 3rd year,
             2016-2018 Master course,
             2012-2016 Uncergraduate course,
  • Lab: Smart System Integration.
  • Home country: Indonesia

1. The motivation that you entered Tohoku University

Due to my parents’ job, I spent my childhood moving around my home country Indonesia. The longest stay in the same province was for 5 years. Moving to a new place was interesting, since it enabled me to learn new things. However, it was also challenging since I had to adapt to new environment every several years. Due to such a background, I had developed an interest to pursue my study abroad since I was in high school.
My first exposure to Japanese stuffs was from TV programs during my childhood. On Sundays, Japanese anime were displayed consecutively for several hours in the morning. I was always enjoying these anime series. Growing up with such TV programs around made me realize that Japanese dream was so advanced. For instance, the tools made by Dr. Agasa in Detective Conan has always fascinated me.
I first learned about Tohoku University from my high school counseling teacher. She invited some professors from Tohoku University to our school to introduce their newly established international program. I learned about the opportunities there and I thought it would be a great chance for me.

2. Your impression on Tohoku University and the program you are engaged in.

I have pursued my whole higher education from undergraduate to doctoral course here in Tohoku University. During these 8.5 years, I am feeling that Tohoku University is always moving forward to better serve its members. Its location in Sendai city also gave a supporting environment for our study. The city is not too small to cause inconvenience in transportation and daily life, while it is also not too big to distract us from studying. Tohoku University is a suitable place for self-development and to achieve our dreams.

3. Your advice to the international students who are planning to study at Tohoku University.

University life is not the same as high school life. In university, instead of just following a predetermined curriculum, we have a freedom to choose the lectures that we want to undertake by ourselves. We even have more freedom for our daily schedule to perform and navigate our own research topics in the graduate school. Being said, the learning process in the university heavily depends on ourselves. To learn as much things as possible, we need a wise time management based on our goals and a bold execution of what we have planned. We need to understand basic things and common sense, but we don’t need to be so intelligent to excel in the university. Do not work too hard, keep good balance between work and life. I do believe that good time management and smart work beat talent.

4. What you are enjoying most and what you are suffering from in students' life?

I enjoyed my research. It feels satisfying when the device I fabricated can be operated well. Although mostly it failed in the fabrication process, which was painful to me. It is like a double-edged sword. However, I think we can develop ourselves better through series of these kinds of satisfaction and pain.

5. Your research topic? What are interesting points?

My research topic is around the development of micro electro mechanical system (MEMS). When we think of what makes smartphones and other devices around us smart, the answer is in its ability to interact with the physical environment, which is through sensors and actuators. A huge number of MEMS is embedded within our smartphones. During my study in Tohoku University, I have been engaged in the development of MEMS materials, sensors, actuators and their packaging technologies.
MEMS devices are made through the microfabrication technology, which was originated in semiconductor industry. I think microfabrication facility in Tohoku University is one of the best in the world. For the same process, there are multiple machines. We get to operate, and even manage the machines and the facilities by ourselves. The facilities are used together with multiple laboratories in Tohoku University. Even some users from industry are also coming to use the facilities to fabricate the prototype of their devices. Being closely related to industry was very interesting. During my bachelor and master courses, I was engaged in a collaborative project with industry. It gave me a feeling that what we are developing in the lab does not just end in journal papers. They are being translated to industry, which eventually end for real use in many people’s hand.

6. What are your goals and plan for the future (research, career, etc.)?

Since an early age, I have always been passionate about education. My dream has always been to be a teacher. I am fascinated on how the educators are experiencing self-development in the process of nurturing the future generation. I am graduating my doctoral course in this March 2021. At this point, that I have also enjoyed the research process, I am eager to pursue my career in academia. From April 2021, I will be joining Hiroshima City University as an Assistant Professor. I hope to make the world better by growing together with the stakeholders of the next generation. I am also aspired to continue performing research to produce something useful for living beings. After all, human beings will die. What matter is the legacy that we inherit for future generations.


Watcharawut Masawat

  • Major: Aerospace Engineering
  • Year: Undergraduate, 3rd year
  • Lab: Space Exploration.
  • Home country: Thailand

1. The motivation that you entered Tohoku University.

It was a long story. Since I was a child, I was so obsessed with space: from the universe to spacecraft technologies. I used to have a computer game that teaches the solar system during my primary school years, and several books about space. I also have a dream of becoming an astronaut or a space engineer. Right after I entered grade 10 in my high school, I became part of the school’s science club, and I got to know a senpai who later became a student at Tohoku University. At that time I still had no idea about Tohoku university, and I planned to enter an aerospace engineering course in Thailand. The turning point was when that senpai and professors from Tohoku university arrived at my highschool, and had an information session during my 11th grade. I became so inspired, and motivated to enter Tohoku University as it matches all my criteria: world-class facilities, the country Japan, and available scholarships. I had a feeling that studying here will be life-changing as I will have to leave my comfort zone, and stay for an extended period of time, all for the first time in my life. Lastly, I think that Tohoku University can offer me great opportunities to be part of cutting-edge innovations in the field that I am interested in, so I gave all the efforts towards entering the university.

2. Your impression on Tohoku University and the program you are engaged in.

My first impression on the university is as great as my first impression on Japan and the city Sendai; “What a great country” said myself on the first day of arriving here. The university spans an entire mountain, and sits near the heart of the city, which makes life very convenient. It is also very open towards international students; I did not have any prior Japanese knowledge, but still able to live while learning without struggling.
I entered the IMAC-U program, which is an engineering section of the FGL program, offered for international students. This was the first time that I got a chance to make new international friends, and use English “in real life”. It was a bit struggling at first as I had less confidence in my English, but the feeling vanished quickly as I was surrounded with positive classmates. I have met many great friends from around the world and many different fields. They gave me opportunities to join various events and broaden my knowledge and interests. It was indeed an invaluable experience.
Regarding the academic aspect, it was my first time joining classes that are completely different in styles from my high school, requiring me to improve my critical thinking as well as communication skills. The classes often give practical examples of what a particular topic is capable of in real life, which I think is very important in the process of learning. They enable me to experience numerous approaches to space engineering, which helps a lot in deciding the main focus in the junior year.

3. Your advice to the international students who are planning to study at Tohoku University.

Always be curious.
Curiosity can bring you to many great places, let you meet new people, and give you invaluable experiences. I was researching about the university a lot even since I knew the university, a year before applying here, and it helped me write my statement and answer interview questions.
Practice, practice, and practice.
The competition is getting bigger and bigger as the year goes by. I think it is better to find your desired field early, make sure it is what you like, and throw everything at it. Don’t forget to balance it with your daily life.
Lastly, it would be good if you have spare time and use it to learn some Japanese, because you will be more free during the first year here, and life in Tohoku University will be more exciting as well.

4. What you are enjoying most and what you are suffering from in students' life?

I really enjoyed playing sports. My most-played sports are seasonal: I do snowboarding in winter, surfing in summer, and skateboarding in the rest of the year. There are also many student groups that I can be part of. For example, I was member of TEDxTohokuUniversity, and I am members of the FGL student committee, STEM network, and a coffee club. I also travel to experience the coffee in different areas, in a hope to find the best coffee shop in Japan.
What I enjoy most is entering sessions and events related to entrepreneurships, and improving my social and business skills.
Speaking about what I am suffering, actually I do not have anything to worry about at all right now (I am a bit of an overoptimistic person haha) There was just one moment during my first year that I was still adjusting to living here, without any prior experience of studying abroad in a foreign country whose language is unknown to me. There were many challenges in balancing my study and my daily lives. Fortunately, my dormitory mates are very supportive and guide me through the first year. Later, I just appreciate all the moments in life and that makes me happy all the time despite the pandemic.

5. Your favorite lecture? Why?

I don’t have a main research topic yet.
My favorite lecture is the “Introduction to aerospace engineering” by several professors from the department of aerospace engineering. I had this lecture before being assigned to the laboratory, The lecture gave me a good examples of the state-of-the-art aerospace technologies that enabled me to picture what I could become in the next couple of years.

6. What are your goals and plan for the future (research, career, etc.)?

Since I was assigned to the Space Robotics Laboratory of Professor Kazuya Yoshida, I have a plan to continue my study in the same laboratory and gain more experience by going for internships in many space companies and institutions, the example is JAXA. And after that I will enter a space company either in Japan or the EU to get some experience, and may finally launch my own space company in the future. The last one is a very ambitious goal, but I love to do that and I can see many windows being opened for the newer generation.


Lisa Katoh

  • Major: Mechanical Systems
  • Year: Undergraduate, B4
  • Lab: Nanointerface Engineering.
  • Home country: Japan (Global Entrance Exam)

1. The motivation that you entered Tohoku University.

The reason why I entered Tohoku University is because their engineering faculty is the best in Japan and they offer a mechanical engineering course taught in English. This program invites students from all over the world, and provides opportunities to build a worldwide career as a proficient engineer. In additions, tuition fees in Japan are cheaper compared to other foreign universities, and scholarships opportunities are abundant.

2. Your impression on Tohoku University and the program you are engaged in.

I am currently a fourth year in the IMAC-U program, and I would say that there is area for improvement in the curriculum since it was established in 2011. But amidst difficult times, you will meet the best classmates you will ever have in your life. Also, Tohoku University has good facilities, giving various opportunities for students to progress their own research and gain proficient engineering skills. In overall, I’m grateful to enter Tohoku University.

3. Your advice to the international students who are planning to study at Tohoku University.

I highly recommend Tohoku University if you are interested in Japan or planning to build a career here in the future. The Tohoku University experience surely gives huge support to achieve your goals through its broad industry links and holistic education.

4. What you are enjoying most and what you are suffering from in students' life?

As mentioned above, the most memorable thing in my university life is time I shared with IMAC-U classmates. We spent a lot of time together by going camping and sightseeing all over Japan.
The downside of my time in this university is definitely from Japanese education system, which differs from international curriculum in terms of their scoring standards. Sometimes, I feel disappointed when my results are lower than expected. However, I learned to overcome my mismatched expectations and instead focus more on the learning process.

5. Your research topic? What are interesting points?

I am in Adachi Laboratory, in the Department of Mechanical System Engineering. Our laboratory focuses on tribology, the study of friction mechanism. We are conducting experiments in different environments for many kinds of application such as in space and automobile industries. I am currently researching friction in blood for applications in a ventricular-assist device, and I really enjoy my project because I need to integrate two different fields: mechanical engineering and biology.

Your favorite lecture? Why?

My favorite lecture was Production Process Practice (PPP). This was because I was able to experience various manufacturing processes I have never tried before, and through this lecture, I learned to consider how to design in a way so that it is easy to manufacture.

6. What are your goals and plan for the future (research, career, etc.)?

As a mechanical engineer, my research goal is to develop the design of a ventricular assist device that has reduced risk of failure while easy to manufacture. In the future, I hope to continue my career as a bioengineer.


Carlos Rivero

  • Major: Aerospace Engineering
  • Year: Doctoral. 1st year,
     2015-2017 Master course,
    2011-2015 Undergraduate,
  • Lab: Space Exploration.
  • Home country: United States

1. The motivation that you entered Tohoku University.

As a kid I used to watch my father work on Japanese cars. Eventually I began working on cars myself and naturally became interested in Japanese cars since they had a good balance of value, reliability and efficiency. I decided to study mechanical engineering in Japan in order to learn engineering from the point of view of Japanese engineers, who had produced some of my favorite cars. Tohoku University is one of the oldest and most highly regarded universities in Japan, and Sendai is a beautiful city with lush greenery, access to mountains and the sea. Tohoku University is also famously known for its “research first” motto, this dedicated approach to furthering science really spoke to me.

2. Your impression on Tohoku University & the program you are engaged in.

Tohoku University staff have always treated me very kindly, this makes the experience much more comfortable as a foreign student, far away from home. The engineering campus is very beautiful throughout the seasons, with many trees, interesting architecture and even color-changing lights along the road at night. Students start attending lab from junior year so you can really tell the university is very research-focused. In my current program (PhD) the research-centric theme is further expanded, with the number of class credits being very minimal (8 total) while the exposure to scientific publishing is maximized. In my department, at minimum, a doctorate student is expected to publish 3 papers in well-established journals and/or conferences before defending his thesis for graduation. It’s very challenging, but that’s part of the intrigue.

3. Your advice to the int’l students who are planning to study at Tohoku

Always keep an open mind! Practice seeing things from another culture’s perspective. This will help immensely in reducing culture-shock and generally make the experience much more fun.

4. What you are enjoying most & suffering from in students' life?

I enjoy the freedom the most, being able to research on my own schedule. I also enjoy the interaction and experiences shared with my friends from different countries. Income is the most difficult part of student life, but it’s part of the challenge.

6. What are your goals and plan for the future (research, career, etc.)?

After graduation I’d like to apply my experiences studying in Japan and my tribology research background as an engineer in an automotive company back home.


Kumar Harihara Sudhan

  • Major: Aerospace Engineering
  • Year: Doctoral, 1st year,
              2018-2020 Master course
  • Lab: Propulsion Engineering.
  • Home country: India

1. The motivation that you entered Tohoku University.

I was interested in electric propulsion/thrusters and on my search for a lab to pursue my studies I stumbled upon Ohnishi/Takahashi lab. The projects from the lab seemed pretty exciting and also aligned with my interests. Also the idea of living in a peaceful city like Sendai was very attractive. 

2. Your impression on Tohoku University and the program you are engaged in.

I was able to enter as an IMAC-G student and the first thing I realised was the level of priority given to research. In my opinion, the IMAC-G program offered classes in English which was quite an advantage for me and my fellow foreign students. I have an overall positive image of the program. However, I do wish there were additional classes that could be offered in English.
The campus, especially Aobayama, is really pretty in all seasons and is a perfect place to carry out research and enjoy the university life.

3. Your advice to the international students who are planning to study at Tohoku University.

I believe the first point would, of course, be the language. If someone has sufficient Japanese skills I believe they would be able to enjoy their life in Japan from the get-go.
It would also be better to connect and make some friends along the way. You will never know where your next inspiration comes from.
Japan is a beautiful and an interesting country. So don’t forget to go to places from time-to-time even though life will be busy everyday.

4. What you are enjoying most and what you are suffering from in students' life?

I absolutely enjoy my research. It is extremely challenging but it is also one of the most rewarding feelings I experience. I also, in general, enjoy living in Sendai as it is very convenient and calming.
I do not have much to complain about apart from the everyday’s ups and downs.

5. Your research topic? What are interesting points?

I work on theoretical and numerical investigation of electrode-less thrusters. The motivation is to develop an electric thruster with high efficiency. Personally, I find plasma physics interesting and hence the interesting point of my research would be my study on the stability of plasma in an electrode-less thruster environment.

6. What are your goals and plan for the future (research, career, etc.)?

I enjoy doing research in the field of plasma physics and hence it would be interesting to enter a job where I can continue studying about plasmas.


Mingliu Zhao

  • Major: Informaation Science
  • Year: 2016-2020 Undergraduate course, Master's 2ndyear
  • Lab: High Performance Computing.
  • Home country: China

1. The motivation that you entered Tohoku University.

I want to express my appreciation to the professor of IMAC who visited my high school and introduced the IMAC program at Tohoku University. Before met her, I have never considered study abroad for a Bachelor's degree, even though Japan is my dream country for a long time. I was so glad to find it is an English program because I could barely speak any Japanese when I was in high school. 

2. Your impression on Tohoku University and the program you are engaged in.

Tohoku University is a very large university with four campuses, especially the cherry blossom in Katahira campus is so beautiful in spring. IMAC is a very international program that you can have classmates from many different countries.

3. Your advice to the international students who are planning to study at Tohoku University.

(1) Being able to speak Japanese is always helpful. Although most professors and students at the university can speak English, some Japanese people whom we meet in daily life such as in the supermarket may not. (2) “Stay Hungry Stay Foolish” is the best appetite to do research. (3) Be Active. Be Positive is the best appetite for your campus life.

4. What you are enjoying most and what you are suffering from in students' life?

What I enjoyed most and suffered from most are all related to the club activities. I joined two circles when I was in my 1st year: street dance and robotics. I enjoyed the circle activities every week and improved my skills a lot. However, in general, Japanese students are not so good at English. The communication sometimes was difficult. But never giving up and always being positive about all things is the best way to help make your life better. Eventually, I made a boyfriend from the circle, lol.

5. Your research topic? What are interesting points?

My current research topic is related to the automation on of industrial machine condition monitoring. AI, to be more specific, machine learning, is a very hot technology nowadays. I am researching how to apply such theoretical technology to a real-world situation and reduce the workloads on engineers by proposing the automation approach.

6. What are your goals and plan for the future (research, career, etc.)?

“Stay Hungry Stay Foolish” is my favorite saying. I am very passionate about the smart city related technologies, such as AI, IoT, big data, etc. However, I am not satisfied with my current skills and would like to do more research in this field. That is why I want to continue my academic career in the doctoral program and become a researcher in the future.


Jose Victorio Salazar Luces

  • Major: Robotics Engineernig
  • Year: 2013-2015 Master course, 2015-2018 Doctoral course, Current: Assistant professor
  • Lab: Smart Robots Design Lab
  • Home country: Venezuela


My name is Jose Victorio Salazar Luces. I used to be a systems engineer from Merida, Venezuela. I came to Japan in 2013 as a MEXT Scholarship grantee for the Masters course in robotics at TU. I enrolled in the IMAC-G program under the supervision of Prof. Kazuhiro Kosuge and Prof. Yasuhisa Hirata. They willingly accepted me and this was one of the biggest reason for choosing TU. I obtained the Master’s degree in 2015 and the D.Eng. degree in 2018. Currently I am working as an Assistant Professor at Hirata Laboratory. My research interests include Assistive Robotics and Haptics.

How about the school life as a IMAC student ? Most enjoyable thing and difficulty?

Life as an IMAC student was very interesting. Throughout my Masters, and later in the Doctoral course, I was able to experience TU’s education model of “Research first”. Even though the courses were quite informative, the main source of learning and self-growth was research at the laboratory. Fortunately, my lab had a very international atmosphere, and I was able to conduct research and interact with my advisor in English. Even though it was difficult sometimes, or pursuing new challenges through research, I had the fortune of having a labmate enrolled in the same course. We supported each other through the entrance examination, classes, research and life in general.

What is your research topic?

My main topic of research is in the field of Haptics, particularly in using vibration to convey information to users, with purposes such as sports training, rehabilitation or motion guidance. Due to the nature of the mechanoreceptors of the skin, when we apply multiple simultaneous vibrations on the skin, if the vibration sources are relatively close to each other, the person perceives one vibration instead of two. Changing the strength of the vibration, we can displace this stimulus, producing a “virtual” vibration in places of the skin where there’s no vibration motor. We exploit this fact to produce moving vibrations that indicate people how they should move. As no force is added, the user needs to move by himself guided by the feedback, thus learning the desired motion in the process. We are currently applying our concept for tasks such as basket coaching, golf training, warehouse assistance and more.

How about the research and education as a teacher?

Becoming an assistant professor means that I not only have a single research topic anymore, but several. I work in close proximity with students, from giving them general advice in our lab meetings, to programming with them and helping implement their ideas.
I am currently teaching practical subjects, such as Computer Seminar and Laboratory Experiment. Particularly in Laboratory Experiment, it was really fun for me to come up with an easy hands-on activity related to our research field that students could do while learning and having fun. Due to the fast pace of technological advances, I am constantly looking for ways to improve the curriculum of the classes, in order to keep it updated.

How to learn Japanese ?

I started studying Japanese seriously 6 months before enrolling TU. Not only that, I actively tried to make the opportunities to come to Japan, since I got interest in Japanese culture, such as manga, when I was a student. Then, I had exposure to Japanese at that time and that experience also contributes to my current Japanese ability.

What is your future plan?

Through my years as a student and now as staff of TU, I have come to enjoy the academic life very much. Then, my current plans are to keep on developing an academic career and carrying out high-quality research in TU. I love living here, and being able to contribute to society by helping capacitate the future generations is something very rewarding and worth doing. I would also like to contribute to Japan’s internationalization efforts, becoming a bridge between Japan and different cultures around the globe, to facilitate understanding, respect and cooperation.

Your advice to the current and future IMAC students.

My advice for IMAC students is to work hard towards their goals while keeping an open mind. Even though a class might not be directly related to the field you want to pursue, it is necessary for your overall formation as an engineer. Also, I would like them to take advantage of the unique perspective of studying with people from so many different countries: make new friends, learn new things and work together towards a global society.


Joanna Masikowska

  • Major: Aerospace Engineering
  • Year: Undergraduate, 2nd year
  • Lab: High Performance Computing.
  • Home country: Poland

1. The motivation for entering Tohoku University.

It has been my dream to experience daily life in Japan since my childhood. Also, I wanted to pursue a degree in engineering. Tohoku University was the only Japanese university which held entrance exams in Europe. Moreover, it offered financial support covering tuition fees which was crucial to me.

2. Your impression on Tohoku University and the program you are engaged in.

I feel that the program is challenging. The number of classes and assignments will surely keep you busy. While the course is offered in English, knowledge of some Japanese makes it easier to communicate with academics.
I like that there are some practice-oriented classes available. Some of them are not compulsory but worth taking. For instance, I participated in a course where I got to design and conduct an experiment using a Thermoelectric Generator. I really enjoyed it. Also, students are exposed to research labs early, and can have first-hand research experiences.
Overall, I think the program is decent. I think that Tohoku University is a nice place to study, especially if you are interested in Japan.

3. Your advice to the international students who are planning to study at Tohoku University.

I would strongly advise them to learn Japanese before coming to Japan. It makes life here much easier.

4. What you are enjoying most and what you are suffering from in students' life?

Due to COVID- 19, students’ life barely exists. Before the pandemic, I enjoyed hanging out with my coursemates and some Japanese friends on the campus. I also enjoyed exploring wonderful places around Tohoku such as Yamadera and Naruko.
I suffer from the overload of work and online classes.

5. Your favourite lecture? Why?

So far I enjoy programming classes the most, such as Computer Seminar I, Practise of Information Processing, etc. I found lecturers supportive in these lectures. Also, usually they speak good English.

6. What are your goals and plan for the future (research, career, etc.)?

My plans are not clear yet. I am thinking about seeking some job in the engineering industry. I also consider pursuing the master's degree if I find research that I want to do.