Alumni Voice


“Thinking on Feet”

Kento Sakai

University student (Department of Applied Mechanics and Aerospace Engineering)

So as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the world, it has caused a great impact on our life in various aspects, and I was no exception. I’m currently on my senior year at the University and have become a member of a laboratory for fluid mechanics research this spring. However, research activities there in great confusion were quite different from what I had expected. Although the restrictions have been lifted in the last few months, I was forced to work from home with my laptop without being able to conduct engineering experiments in the laboratory. It was because it had been a long time while the admission to access to lecture rooms and labs was restricted owing to the influence of this horrible virus.

Whereas, I could save my time by remote work, so it was a great opportunity for exploring wide ranges of studies in my spare time and I’ve become more familiar with an area I’m interested in other than turbomachinery which I major in. In particular, it spent my time deepening my understanding of vibration problems in engineering which are crucial for machinery and mechanical devices, and these interests helped me give a concrete shape to my dream of contributing to improving the reliability of space transportation technology. Therefore, it is rather good that I spent most of the day at home while the world was in the middle of chaos. As far as I’m concerned, it seems that it has been my charging period for future endeavors and it will be the period to leap forward now.

As I mentioned earlier, my dream is to improve the safety of launch vehicles, and realize the world where space transportation is more widely used as a means of commercial transportation, much like air transportation in the near future. In order to fulfill my dream, I major in aerospace engineering, and wish to work in the aerospace industry after finishing my master’s degree.

Because of the global coronavirus outbreak, research activities on aerospace industry had been temporarily interrupted for several months, and the launch of rockets had to be postponed, but now they are almost resumed for further development of space industry. Space utilization activities play a major role in industrial development of industry and the enrichment of people’s lives. The best example is the use of artificial satellites put into orbit by being launched with rockets. They allow observing over wide areas of the earth and periodically transmitting ground data to us on the ground. The data consists of information related to the global environment such as weather, river flooding, and ocean resources, and all of them are useful for grasping the status of land use. In addition, they make us possible to grasp accurately and quantitatively environmental changes on the earth by tracking a plurality of time-series data. On the other hand, a great deal of resources has been invested into space exploration as well; planetary exploration on Mars and mining operation on planets space and others. The moment when space travel will be prevalent is just around the corner. Ultimately, it might be the goal of our space exploration that we lead a daily life in outer space normally as we do on the earth.

To boost aerospace businesses as explained before to the next level, more importantly, it is essential to realize a breakthrough and provide better launching vehicles, which are low in cost and high in safety as well as reliability. My current research in the laboratory focuses on rocket engines, which are the key components of vehicles. However, since rocket engines are operated under severe environment of high pressure, high vibration, and extremely high and low temperature, there are still many technological issues that must be solved. This fact, of course, applies to the various industrial equipment which are often seen in daily life. As an engineer, I would feel fulfilled if I could contribute to achieve a more sustainable future by tackling these issues and working for technology enhancement in a variety of industries. I also believe that these technological innovations will lead to the solution of various social challenges all over the world such as the expansion of renewable energy and the creation of resilient infrastructure. It’s often said the phrase “Thinking on feet” has been one of mottoes when we do every branch of engineering, but it somehow feels like this phrase also should be kept in mind for all of us living in the ongoing corona pandemic. Even in today’s feeling of despair spreading around the world, I believe it’s of great value for us to keep thinking about how to accomplish our life goals. It doesn’t matter if efforts don’t bear fruit in some way and end in vain, since taking action for change is valuable in itself. The end of the battle against coronavirus isn’t still in sight, yet we can’t stay preoccupied with it. I’ll keep going towards my dream, even though I’m in the long, dark tunnel now.







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