ASPIRE Forum is a workshop held annually and it is hosted by Tokyo Tech in 2021. In this forum, students from ASPIRE League, the leading science and technology universities in Asia, and IDEA League, a consortium comprising universities in Europe are gathered together.

Poster of ASPIRE Forum 2021 Online Student Workshop

In previous years, students are supposed to come to Tokyo. However, it was held online this year due to COVID-19. Nevertheless, I met the most collaborative, passionate, and innovative teammates, and spent productive and enjoyable five days.

I got to know that ASPIRE Forum was calling for participates from Tokyo Tech Mail News. After a pleasant conversation with professors and staff, I received a notification that I passed the interview and was selected to be one of the student delegates from Tokyo Tech. I knew that the workshop would take place in the hybrid Zoom-Slack-Miro working environment from the guidelines. It was considerate of the organizer to provide introductions and weblinks of the above platforms so that I could practice and got familiar with the platforms in advance. I guess most of us have been used to doing our work through Slack and Zoom, but all my teammates didn’t use Miro before, so it took some time for us to get started. After we get familiar with the operations in Miro, writing down our ideas becomes more interesting.

Working in the hybrid Zoom-Slack-Miro working environment

All the participants were divided into four groups and each group worked on a specialized topic. My team was aimed at proposing super smart services and products (e.g., smart mobility, smart agriculture, etc.) realized by 5G and beyond. In terms of our schedule, we had some ice breaking activities in the first day. The second day was almost a lecture day. Three outstanding professors specialized in the three themes from Tokyo Tech gave presentations.

For me, Professor Kei Sakaguchi’s talk “5G and beyond to realize supersmart society” was impressive. I asked a question regarding computer vision techniques applied in automated driving after his presentation. He kindly replied to me and welcomed me to visit his lab. We spent the following days mostly on group work. I had the most enjoyable time when talking with my teammates: Ashish, who majoring in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Nanyang Technological University, Angus, who is majoring in Chemistry from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and last but not the least, Riccardo, who is majoring in Product Service System Design from Politecnico di Milano. Before the final presentation, the organizer had set two milestones, which supported each team to find a feasible and technical proposal.

We share our ideas on the Miro board

During the group work, we boosted our ideas to come up with a proposal taking advantage of 5G technology. After doing an interview, it became much clearer. Finally, we decided to take “TOF based healthcare system using 5G technology” as our topic. Although our proposal is currently hard to apply in clinical practice, the professors took us very seriously and gave us comments in the final presentation. The other teams also did wonderful presentations.

Me and my teammates talking about our proposal in the final presentation

After that, we took a group picture and said goodbyes to our teammates. Finally, the awards were presented. Congratulations to my teammate Riccardo for winning the best presenter award! Several days later, I received a certificate of participation from Executive Vice President, Prof. Tetsuya Mizumoto. Although I was kind of busy before graduation, I definitely did not regret participating in this forum. I stepped out of your comfort zone, improved my communication skills, and broadened my horizons by meeting my international counterparts.

Group picture with my teammates

It was my honor to join this workshop representing Tokyo Tech. In the future, if you will have the chance to join the ASPIRE Forum and ASPIRE Student Workshop, I recommend that you seize this wonderful opportunity!

*Note: For those who are interested in ASPIRE Forum and ASPIRE Student Workshop, see the websites for details.