Education Outreach \\ NanoJapan IREU: International Research Experience for Undergraduates
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NanoJapan IREU: International Research Experience for Undergraduates

The NanoJapan Program is a 12-week, summer research internship focusing on Terahertz (THz) Dynamics in Nanostructures that is open to freshman and sophomore engineering and physics students from universities nationwide. Generously supported by an NSF Partnerships for International Research & Education (NSF-PIRE) grant, this summer program seeks to cultivate interest in nanotechnology among young U.S. undergraduate students, especially those from underrepresented groups, and encourages such students to pursue graduate study and academic research in the physical sciences. To be eligible students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents an each year up to 12 students will be selected to participate.

Our program design, combining the best aspects of a traditional study abroad experience with intensive nanotechnology research internships, has been nationally recognized as an innovative and effective model for international STEM programs. In 2012, NanoJapan was profiled in a National Academy of Engineering Report on "Infusing Real World Experience into Engineering Education" (see pg. 33) and in 2008 NanoJapan received the IIE Heiskell Award as a 'Best Practice in Study Abroad' for expanding opportunities for STEM students.

The program includes:

Introduction to THz & Nanoscale Science Seminar

This preparatory seminar will include web lectures on TeraNano research, Japan, online modules, and self-directed reading and exercises. The seminar will be supplemented by guest lectures given by TeraNano PIRE Researchers from the U.S. and Japan during the language and culture orientation program in Tokyo.

Pre-departure Orientation at Rice University
1 day, mid-May

This workshop will provide an overview of the summer program, including expectations for working in Japanese research labs and dealing with cultural differences. The pre-departure program will be held at Rice University the day immediately prior to departure for Japan.

Orientation Program in Tokyo
3 weeks, mid-May to early June

The NanoJapan Orientation Program is designed to introduce students to THz and nanoscale science research and the competencies required to work successfully in the global research community. The orientation program will also provide students with a solid foundation in basic language and intercultural skills that they can then build upon during the research internship period.

The three-week orientation program consists of three short courses including:

  • Introduction to THz Dynamics in Nanostructures Seminar: U.S. and Japanese TeraNano PIRE researchers will present introductory lectures on topics related to terahertz dynamics of nanostructures research.
  • Intensive Japanese Language Seminar: Students will complete 45 hours of intensive Japanese language classes at both the beginning and intermediate/advanced level. Students will also complete modules on Technical Japanese that stress basic vocabulary and Japanese characters associated with laboratory environments, especially as related to lab safety. Classes for intermediate/advanced learners will provide a more advanced introduction to Japanese language as related to science. Students will also complete web-based exercises during their research experiences.
  • Introduction to Japanese Culture & Society Seminar: This seminar aims to provide students with an introduction to Japanese culture, society, and history through guest lectures and company site visits. Students will also participate in seminars and excursions that will introduce them to Japanese life and culture.

International Research Experience
8 weeks, June-July

Participants will be placed in Japanese labs and matched with an English-speaking Japanese research mentor as a member of an International Research Team (IRT). Projects will be arranged by PI Kono and other TeraNano research leaders in consultation with the Japanese research hosts. NanoJapan IREU projects will directly relate to the study of terahertz (THz) dynamics in semiconductors, THz dynamics in carbon nanotubes, and THz dynamics in graphene. The Japanese host labs are selected for their willingness to mentor a young undergraduate student, compatibility of research with TeraNano PIRE research projects, and a desire to increase the international diversity and intercultural competencies of Japanese group members by providing them with an opportunity to work with an American undergraduate.

The IRE will:

  • Provide students with hands-on experience with THz-related research in the field of nanotechnology;
  • Enable students to collaborate in an international research effort;
  • Enable students to improve their language skills;
  • Raise the profile of collaborations between U.S. and Japanese TeraNano PIRE collaborating institutions.

Mid-Program Meeting
3 days, mid-July

Held in Okinawa at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, this meeting provides an opportunity for the NanoJapan program to address any research or cultural issues that may have arisen during the first half of the IRE. The group setting allows NanoJapan students to reflect on their experiences in the lab and share tips with their fellow students on best practices for working in a Japanese research lab. Students will also tour OIST's cutting edge research facilitates and have opportunities to engage with OIST graduate students from around the world. Immediately prior to or following the Mid-Program Meeting Prof. Kono will conduct site visits to each research host lab to meet with the Japanese research professor and NanoJapan student/s assigned tothat lab to assess individual student research progress and integration into the research lab.

Re-entry Program & RQI Summer Research Colloquium
3 days, early August

The capstone experience of NanoJapan will be a poster presentation at the Rice Quantum Institute (RQI) Summer Research Colloquium, which highlights the best of undergraduate and graduate research in areas relating to quantum phenomena. This symposium will include a re-entry program for NanoJapan students that will address professional development including communication and presentation skills workshops, resume and interview workshops, a seminar on integrating their international experience into future academic and career plans, and a seminar highlighting further opportunities for international study and research for STEM students

NanoJapan Alumni Follow-on Project

All participants in the NanoJapan IREU or Graduate IRE programs will be required to carry out a follow-on project at their home university or in their local/home community that encourages other students to pursue STEM study and research and/or international research and study opportunities at the undergraduate or graduate level. Students are strongly encouraged to develop projects to be implemented in local middle schools or high schools, encouraging young students to pursue higher education in STEM fields. Projects must be completed during the academic year immediately following your research experience in Japan.

Some project options include, but are not limited to:

  • On-campus presentations on NanoJapan to student organizations, professional society chapters, academic departments, etc.
  • Hosting a table on NanoJapan at campus study abroad, research, a summer opportunity fair, or related event.
  • Submitting a paper or article on  your NanoJapan experience to relevant international education magazines Glimpse or your campus paper, departmental or school newsletter, or study abroad/international engineering office newsletter.
  • Submitting a paper or article on your summer research experience to undergraduate peer-reviewed publications such as Catalyst, the Journal of Young Investigators, the Forum on Education Abroad Undergraduate Research Awards, the Global Hub, etc.
  • Presenting on your NanoJapan Research Experience at relevant conferences or events in your field such as the Sigma Xi Annual Meeting.
  • Giving a presentation on NanoJapan to local middle or high-school physics or science classes that highlights the international and research opportunities available to young students majoring in engineering or physics.

Other program logistics

All students receive international airfare and a stipend of up to $4,500, funded by the NSF, to be used towards their living expenses abroad. Group international airfare is arranged by Rice University and housing, typically in university dorms, is arranged by research host labs in collaboration with the NanoJapan Program. Students use their stipends to pay for their internship housing.

All NanoJapan students will received International Health Insurance through the CISI policy offered by the University of Tulsa. This insurance will be valid for the duration of your time in Japan and provides medical illness or accident coverage along with medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. Participants are also required to rent a Japanese cell phone through Piccell Wireles to use for the duration of their stay abroad. Students use their stipend to pay for their cell phone rental fees and usag.

See NanoJapan Program Cost and Schedule for more information.

Academic Research/Internship Credit

In lieu of a program fee all NanoJapan participants will be required to register for at least 1 or up to 3 research credits through the Rice University Summer School. All students will be enrolled in ELEC 490: Electrical Engineering Research Projects. The cost of tuition and any related application fee (for non-Rice students) must be paid for individually. In 2013, the cost of 1 credit was estimated at $986. More information on summer course enrollment will be provided to selected recipients.

NanoJapan participants must enroll for at least 1 research/internship credit but have the option of enrolling for up to 3 research/internship credits and must successfully complete all aspects of the NanoJapan program (Pre-Departure, Language & Culture Orientation, Research Internship, & RQI) including submission of all required weekly internship reports and related assignments.

Upon successful completion of the program students will receive a letter grade and be eligible to request a Rice University transcript. Non-Rice University students should speak with their academic advisor, study abroad office, or registrar's office to determine if credit received will be eligible for transfer to their home university prior to departure for Japan.

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