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### Akane Umeda’s Experience Studying at Georgia Tech in the United States

Akane Umeda | First-Year Graduate Student, School of Fundamental Science and Engineering

  • Visit Duration: September 2023 – November 2023
  • Hosting Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Akane Umeda, a novice master’s student at the School of Fundamental Science and Engineering, embarked on a study abroad expedition to the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, USA. This valuable opportunity was facilitated by Waseda University’s Top Global University initiative, known as “Waseda Goes Global” (TGU).

Inspirations Behind Application

During her high school years, Akane engaged in a global robotics competition, fostering connections with peers from diverse backgrounds. This experience sparked her curiosity in exploring different cultures, broadening her understanding of Japanese culture’s global prominence. With a lifelong passion for space exploration and dreams of a career in the space industry, Akane sought to immerse herself in the research atmosphere and culture of the United States, a leading hub for space innovation. Her participation in this program was motivated by a keen interest in international academic pursuits and the opportunity to collaborate with individuals from various nationalities.

Research Endeavors at the Host Institution

Under the guidance of Dr. Koki Ho at the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, Akane’s research in Japan centered on self-repairing metal interconnects—an essential element capable of automatic restoration without precise knowledge of the disconnected region. Acknowledging the importance of this technology in space environments where repairs pose challenges, Akane conducted experiments and formulated a linear model to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of integrating self-healing metal interconnects. Despite the potential advantages, conversations with professors in the US highlighted practical implementation hurdles. Future research initiatives in Japan aim to enhance the simulation of space conditions for greater accuracy.

Academic Atmosphere at the Host University

Georgia Tech’s academic environment provided students with independence, offering flexible lab schedules and a relaxed structure. Regular meetings with professors and bi-weekly lab gatherings facilitated research dialogues and updates on progress. Interactions with peers from diverse academic backgrounds and collaborations with NASA and space enterprises enriched Akane’s educational journey. The sprawling campus, adorned with aviation models, served as an inspiring backdrop for scholarly pursuits. Moreover, the dynamic student hub, well-equipped library facilities, and diverse culinary options contributed to an enriched university experience.

Cultural Exchange and Networking

Engaging with Japanese and international peers in the laboratory nurtured meaningful connections and cultural interchange. Shared lunches and stimulating discussions on research challenges and personal anecdotes fostered a supportive and collaborative environment. Social gatherings and weekend activities such as hiking and sports engagements provided avenues for cultural immersion and camaraderie. Akane’s interactions with Russian-American peers and a hospitable Airbnb host further enriched her cross-cultural encounters, offering insights into diverse perspectives and life narratives.

Living Arrangements and Surroundings

Residing in the secure Midtown locality, Akane’s Airbnb lodging provided a cozy living space amidst Atlanta’s varying climate. The vibrant cityscape, expansive parks, and notable landmarks like Piedmont Park and Centennial Olympic Park offered recreational outlets. Navigating daily life in Atlanta, characterized by extensive distances and a car-centric lifestyle, presented unique challenges. Despite safety considerations in certain areas, Akane explored the city’s attractions, including the World of Coca-Cola and Georgia Aquarium, gaining a deeper understanding of local culture and heritage.

Reflections on Study Abroad Experience

Akane’s study abroad venture broadened her career horizons, exposing her to diverse professional trajectories and inspirational role models. Engaging with students involved in collaborative initiatives with NASA fueled her ambitions for future research ventures and global partnerships. The program not only influenced her academic pursuits but also instilled a commitment to assisting incoming international students in Japan. Despite initial hurdles in administrative processes and adjustment, Akane’s study abroad expedition proved invaluable, leaving an enduring impact on her personal and professional development.