An interview (Prof. Lenggoro) on the new department “Kagaku Butsuri Kougakka” (Dept. of Applied Physics & Chemical Engineering). 2019に新設の化学物理工学科について「教員インタビュー」tuat-chemphys.net/
The following is English “machine” translation of the interview:
You’ve been in Japan for a long time. Could you tell me why you came to Japan and the background?
(WL) It’s been 30 years since I came to Japan. I was a freshman at Bandung Institute of Technology (commonly known as ITB) in Indonesia, and I passed the government’s student fellowship program. At that time, I was told, “You will study in Japan, learn Japanese and major in chemical engineering.”. I was an undergraduate student of Department of Engineering Physics (Applied Physics) at ITB. I dropped out and came to Japan, and then I have been specializing in Chemical Engineering for more than 25 years. Our new “Department of Applied Physics and Chemical Engineering” at TUAT will consist mainly of professors in chemical engineering and applied physics, so I feel, a destiny, the connection of something.
What kind of study is chemical engineering?
(WL) Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering that uses chemistry, physics, mathematics, and economics principles to efficiently use, produce, transform, and transport materials and energy. Chemical engineering has diversity, and it is relatively easy to communicate with different fields. Before joining Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT), I spent about 9 years in the field of material processing and had never been strongly aware of “the environment“. A turning point in my research was that around 2008, when I worked with many agricultural professors to co-initiate a national project: “Plants meet Particles” and started tackling environmental issues head-on. Thanks to my education in chemical engineering, where I have a deep understanding of material and energy transfer, I was able to understand the stories of researchers with various specialties and conduct the joint research.
Could you tell me about your research theme?
(WL) It covers chemical & materials processes (the starting point of manufacturing) and environmental problems (field). Specifically, my research group are focusing on the behaviour of particles suspended in the gas phase or liquid phase and developing a manufacturing method for functional particle materials that conserve natural-resources and energy. At the same time, we are studying on the development of new methods for immobilization and measurement of particles to control mass transfer (PM1.0, pesticides and fertilizers) in plants and the environment.
What are the “characteristics” of learning at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology?
(WL) The “combination” of agriculture and engineering is unique in the world. In student club activities, engineering students often interact with agricultural students. In graduate school education, there is an interdisciplinary program for integration of different fields. As with the birth of the Department of Applied Physics and Chemical Engineering, there are many global challenges that cannot be solved by a single discipline. It is often said that fusion of different fields is the key to solving the global issues.
What kind of students would you like to enroll in this department?
(WL) In the future, it will be essential to have highly skilled engineers who are aware of environmental issues. I would like everyone who wants to be active in the future “Global Issues” for considering of this new department. I think it is also a good stance to contribute to solving global issues while in Japan.
Could you tell me what you are trying to do when you teach students?
(WL) In this age of instant access to information via smartphones and other devices, I am always thinking about what “information” only professors know. I try to make it possible for the students to give feedback and say something in the class.
(WL) What is difficult to obtain via the Internet are “impression” and “sensibility” which occur on site (in the field). In grade 2 ~ 3, I would recommend studying at a foreign university (short term and long term) through university or governmental scholarship programs. For example, under the one-semester-program for 3rd year students, they can take more than 10 credits at leading universities in ASEAN countries. Many students who have studied abroad say that if they have studied abroad before they become a senior (for final project) in the laboratory, they will be able to greatly expand their research activities for theses and the way of thinking afterwards.
What kind of students do you want to raise?
(WL) In my research group, students and I design the thesis research theme that students want to do, together. This “design process” is not-easy. It may take several months, but I think the students have the power they need in an era where problem setting is more important than problem solving. I would like student to graduate from this department by learning as much as possible about the transfer/transport of materials and energy and their associated risks at the macro (for example, several kilometers) and micro (for example, nano-order) scales. Also, I think it’s important to experience some meaningful failures in graduation research and think about what students can learn from those failures. I want them to be a person who can think about what they should do in the future while they are still in university.
Please send a message to students preparing for exams and high school students reading this article.
(WL) The new department is the only-one in the world, and it’s a chance to improve your identity. I believe that graduates will also be valuable pioneers. I think it is a suitable engineering department for those who are struggling to choose between “Chemistry” and “Physics”.