President’s Corner | 2010

Chemical Engineers, Unite! Open Up a New Era!

Mr. Shin-ichi NAKAO
President, SCEJ

Succeeding the former President Mr. Tsuchiya, I am now appointed as President of the Society of Chemical Engineers, Japan (SCEJ) for the fiscal years 2010 and 2011. The latter of these is a particularly important year for us, because it will mark 75th anniversary of the SCEJ, and it is going to be the year in which “Vision 2011″will be completed. The Vision 2011 proposal has been promoted by previous presidents of the Society, including Mr. Tsuchiya. I am determined to facilitate the SCEJ in order to smoothly pass through these milestones and contribute to the further growth of the Society. Therefore, I would greatly appreciate your support and cooperation.

As I already announced in the speech upon my candidacy for President, I have set five goals for the Society. I am determined to achieve as many of them as possible in the next two years. The five goals are: (1) to train and develop chemical engineers; (2) integrate the power of all chemical engineers’ societies in Asia into one; (3) propose strategies to solve global issues by integrating the power of all SCEJ members; (4) create a pleasant atmosphere for the members, so that they can enjoy participating in the SCEJ activities; and (5) realize the Vision 2011 plan and devise the Post Vision 2011 policy.

Regarding the first goal, as everyone already knows, it has been a while since the department name of “Chemical Engineering” reduced in universities throughout Japan, substantially weakening the development of traditional chemical engineering. However, in recent years the demand for chemical engineers in the industrial world has not decreased but has in fact increased. Then, who trains and develops chemical engineers, and where will it take place? I believe we are entering an era in which academic societies will be responsible for the development of chemical engineers. Therefore, I plan to establish a collaborative system among academic, industries and government for the purpose of training and developing chemical engineers who can actually practice their knowledge at a high level by connecting them to the qualification system that is well recognized by society. We will strive to accomplish this goal as part of the SCEJ activities, mainly through the Personnel Training Center, and by receiving support and cooperation from educational institutions and corporations.

The second goal has been carried over to us from the time when Mr. Miura served as the president of the Society. I believe that the Japanese chemical industry will, in the future, increasingly expand to the Asian region, which is expected to grow significantly. Therefore, in order to obtain excellent human resources it is essential that we create a network of chemical engineers in the Asian region. There are abundant highly skilled personnel who once studied chemical engineering in Japan, went back to their home countries, and are now active in various industries and educational and research institutes. With these Asian colleagues as a core, I plan to establish the Asia Branch of the SCEJ while maintaining close collaboration with the industrial world.

The third goal comprises the activity of putting all our efforts into developing strategic policies at the national level and releasing them publicly. In order to solve the various global issues represented by global warming, it is necessary to design an optimal, large-scale social system. Chemical engineers are good at understanding problems from a broad perspective and deriving effective solutions through that understanding. Let’s demonstrate our ability to society, and propose a process design that will lead to the resolution of these global issues. This type of activity has not been attempted by any other academic societies thus far. However, the SCEJ has abundant scholars and a wealth of knowledge. I believe that if every member of the Society offers his/her knowledge and wisdom, we can present strong strategic solutions. I plan to start a project by which to propose such strategic policies and will also focus on publicizing them.

The fourth goal is an important challenge for the Society. As the word “gakkai” (literally translated as “scholars’ meeting”) shows, many academic societies end up being mere social clubs for university professors. However, the SCEJ has strictly served as a society for chemical engineers, as is clearly indicated by its English name, “Society of Chemical Engineers, Japan.” Therefore, I believe the SCEJ must always be an organization where academic and industries gather under the same roof, and where the members can freely exchange opinions and easily obtain useful information. However, the annual meeting and the Fall Conference are not adequate for such exchanges among members. Although our branch and regional meetings members have been working hard to create such opportunities, I still want to create a smaller-scale kind of gathering that focuses on the local community, as well as more frequent opportunities for chemical engineers to casually get together, or a place where someone is always present and members can feel free to have mutual technical consultations. In short, I want to provide a place where people can truly feel grateful for their membership in the SCEJ.

Needless to say, the fifth goal–the realization of Vision 2011–must be achieved. In reality, however, once the new vision has begun moving forward, you may occasionally feel, “This isn’t really what I expected.” Viewing 2011 as a milestone, I will once again review the Vision 2011 plan carefully and classify its goals by degree of achievement as follows: goals that haven’t been achieved and those that have been achieved but require slight improvements. The goals will then be organized in the form of Post-Vision 2011 and used to determine the direction of the SCEJ for the next five years or so. I suppose any greater vision, something like aiming for the hundredth anniversary, can be developed subsequently.

Because chemical engineering is the “engineering” of “chemistry,” I consider it a practical science. Nowadays, however, I can’t help but feel research that appears to be more “scientific” tends to be overrated in academia, thus causing research and personnel development in the field of chemical engineering–a practical science–to increasingly retrogress. I wonder if this trend is causing the industrial world to move away from the SCEJ. For the growth of Japan’s chemical industry, why don’t we chemical engineers get together, regain the spirit of the Society of Chemical Engineers, and create a society in which the industrial world and academia are united?

Message from the president of SCEJ after The Tohoku-Region Pacific Coast Earthquake Disaster
June, 2011

Letter of Appreciation

Thank you very much for many letters and emails regarding the Tohoku-Region Pacific Coast Earthquake disaster on March 11, 2011. We deeply appreciate many warm thoughts and expressions of consolation. As for the accidents in Fukushima Nuclear Power station caused by theearthquake, the countermeasures have been continuously taken and we understand the effect of radio active pollution will be limited.c Japanese people together have launched out for reconstructions of damaged areas and the Society of Chemical Engineers, Japan also will make all-out efforts for the related assistance.
Your warm support in the future is highly appreciated.
Sincerely yours,

Shinichi Nakao
The Society of Chemical Engineers, Japan

July, 2011

Toward the 75th Anniversary of the Society of Chemical Engineers, Japan (SCEJ)
Shin-ichi Nakao
2011 President of The Society of Chemical Engineers, Japan

I pray that the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the Tohoku and Kanto regions will rest in peace. I also pray that those affected will be able to rebuild their lives as quickly as possible. The Society of Chemical Engineers, Japan (SCEJ) was established on November 6, 1936, as the Society of Chemical Machinery Engineers with 162 members, later changing its name to SCEJ. As a Public Interest Incorporated Association, it currently has 8,500 members, seven branches, 22 associations, and 14 committees (as of March 31, 2011).
As the society celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, I would like to describe the current state of its activities and future plans.

As you know, chemical engineering is an academic discipline that analyzes the various phenomena that accompany thermal and mass transfers, treats them theoretically as groups of units of operations, and builds systems by combining these units of operations. Early on, it has contributed greatly to technological innovations and the development of chemical and petrochemical industries. It now supports technological innovations in all industries involved in production, including pharmaceuticals and food products. For our 75th anniversary, we are digitizing documents, articles and other published matter over the course of the past 75 years. We plan to offer them in a digital library on the Web to preserve them and to allow members to access them.
This digital library will provide a platform of knowledge and technologies related to chemical engineering. I hope that many researchers and engineers will use this library, and that it will play a role in further developing chemical engineering and creating technological innovations.

An important role of the society is nurturing human resources. Teaching students in educational institutions from elementary school to graduate school is important, of course. However, because of the importance of continued education that supports the self-expression of working adults, in 2000 the SCEJ established a human resources development center to provide uniform education for elementary students to working adults. We have already held basic lectures for novice engineers and continuing education seminars for mid-level engineers. Furthermore, to bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world, we have been carrying out an internship program since 2006. For our 75th anniversary, we are creating a video program in which students comment on how they have applied what they have learned to manufacturing facilities. We are also planning to create educational tools that students can access on the Web.
Through these activities, I hope we can instill heightened interest in chemistry in students to prevent their dropping out of the sciences by showing them the path from “classroom chemistry to chemical engineering,” and turn out outstanding scientists and engineers for industries.

Another important role of SCEJ is the communication of academic achievements and contributing to society at large. SCEJ does not simply to transmit information within Japan but to the whole world. The society has always participated in exchanges and collaborations with chemical societies in Europe and the U.S. through international conferences. In recent years, we have been deepening exchanges with chemical engineering societies in China and South Korea by signing cooperative agreements. As part of our efforts to further strengthen exchanges with Asia, we have created the SCEJ Asia International Award for engineers and researchers active in Asia. Through this award, we are making progress in deepening exchanges. To advance industrial technologies, we have been hosting INCHEM TOKYO with JMA (the Japan Management Association) since 1966. This year, as SCEJ’s 75th anniversary event, INCHEM TOKYO was held jointly with the 2011 International Exhibition on Green Industry Development, co-sponsored by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The conference was held over three days from October 16 to 18. We exhibited Japanese industrial technologies to the world under the theme of “Toward Green Innovation.” We also planned an exhibition tour for government officials and industrialists from foreign countries who had planned to attend the conference.
Domestically, we made an emergency proposal on March 28 about power shortage in Japan as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake. SCEJ has been responding to this pressing national challenge with all its might. We are also considering our proposals to challenges currently faced by the world, such as global warming. I would like to introduce a part of our proposals on March 14, 2012, at SCEJ’s 75th anniversary ceremony.

In December 2001, SCEJ published “Vision 2011,” our statement of what chemical engineers in the 21st century should be. Since that time, social conditions have changed, and we are planning to develop a new vision statement for the next decade. To be a society open to the outside world and an association that can communicate with society at large, I want members of SCEJ to not only deepen relationships with one another, but also to deepen partnerships with the different organizations in GSCN, and to continue to do their best.