The “New Frontier of Education and Research in Wind Engineering” launched by the Department of Architecture of Tokyo Polytechnic University was adopted as a “Global Center of Excellence Program” sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The program was established to promote internationally competitive universities so that the educational and research functions of graduate schools can be further improved and reinforced, and students can be trained in a research environment at the top international level to become creative people who play a leading role in the world. The adoption reflects that our long-standing, steady efforts for educational research activities receive high acclaim. Activities such as the research outcome of the Wind Engineering Research Center, which was established by Tokyo Polytechnic University, and authorized as an academic frontier promotion base in 2000, and the research outcome of the 21st Century Center of Excellence Program that was launched five years ago.
In the 21st century, the earth faces various environmental problems like global warming, environmental destruction, energy problems, and wind-caused disasters. Here in Japan, we have recently encountered a markedly increasing number of natural phenomena that are thought to be caused by environmental problems, such as the occurrence of regional thunderstorms called “guerilla rain,” off-season typhoons, and disasters caused by gale-force winds and tornados. The world has seen a growing number of various environmental problems that include heat island phenomena caused by environmental changes like the construction of high-rise buildings, disasters caused by wind like heavy typhoons or tornadoes, and a rising sea level caused by global warming.
According to a “survey on attitudes toward global problems” conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in 2005, the most serious global problem we faced in our daily life was global warming, and the second most serious global problem was environmental destruction. The same results were obtained with regard to “issues Japan should take the lead in addressing.” However, satisfactory action has not necessarily been taken because the problems are extensive and diversified, and each country and region has different social backgrounds, and attitudes toward the significance of the problems.
The program adopted this time consists of three research fields: the wind-resistant construction field that aims to contribute to urban disaster prevention through the development of a systematic wind-resistant design method, the ventilation field that aims to realize the construction of a human and earth-friendly environment, and the wind environment and air pollution field that aims to propose measures to improve thermal and atmospheric environments. I feel that we now need to recognize the importance of the science of wind engineering, and bring about technological changes for the safety of humans and environmental conservation. In this program, we launched the establishment of a virtual engineering organization aligned with research organizations in various countries in cooperation with the University of Notre Dame in the U.S. We now aim at the establishment of a global-scale educational research system with our university as a base for research.
We are also committed to carry out an important mission to cultivate human resources. Our basic educational principle is the development of world-class talent with an emphasis on passion for humans in the wind-resistant construction field, for global resources in the ventilation field, and for the atmospheric environment in the wind environment and air pollution field. Our goal is to produce and send capable researchers who have a truly international perspective, and passion for humans and the earth, and who are capable of exercising international leadership, and to produce and send advanced technology across the country and all over the world.
In addition, in order to realize these educational and research goals, we have been reinforcing our management system and organizational support system. We will establish a Global COE Steering Committee with the President of Tokyo Polytechnic University as its Chairperson in order to exchange practical opinions about the promotion of educational and research activities, and to discuss our future direction, coordination and support for researchers and other personnel, and to discuss facilities and other physical aspects. We are now organizing a system for all of us to work on the program under my leadership. We will also establish a Global COE Advisory Board as an organization to conduct strict external evaluation of activities for forming a base for research, and to provide guidance and advice. The advisory board with notable Japanese and foreign engineers specializing in wind engineering as its members will examine various opinions and objective evaluations, rectify plans, and contribute to the fulfillment of future plans.
Population growth and economic development will continue in each country of the world into the future. There is no doubt that the coexistence of culture and civilizations built by humans, and nature will become an important and extremely difficult issue. Tokyo Polytechnic University will continue to promote educational and research activities as a university capable of making contribution to our society and the world.
We strongly believe that the research progress of this project will contribute to the construction of a major foundation for the protection of the valuable earth, where mankind lives.