JAFOE 2011

Engineers, please start your engine.

The 2011 Japan-America Frontiers of Engineering Symposium was held from 6 to 8, June, 2011, at Rihga Royal NCB (Nakanoshima Center Building) in Osaka, Japan.

The symposium called 30 American top engineers and 30 Japanese top engineers together and hosted four different sessions. The symposium originally started back in 2000, followed by years 2002 through 2009. The aim of this symposium is mixing up American/Japanese young brains and creating tomorrow’s partnership by bottom-up approach, which I mean, non-political way. I’ve been a general co-chair since 2009, and had good luck to welcome many brilliant colleagues. In 2011 we picked up the topics from Massive Data Management, Smart Grid, Bioinspired Materials and Robotics. I was very excited during seeing list of the speakers, and really thrilled to open the symposium.

Each sessions has a couple of session chairs, four speakers and four poster presenters of the 50:50 mixture of Academia and industry. They were so active that we always needed more time for Q and A and poster sessions. I do really appreciate for fantastic presentations and great questions that would advance the research further. I do also appreciate Japanese speakers for speaking in English for four days even when they talk to Japanese.


Welcome message by Dr. Hiroshi Komiyama, President of Engineering Academy of Japan.

Opening address by Dr. Charles Vest, President of National Academy of Engineering, USA.

Opening address by Dr. Akira Takamatsu, JST. JST sponsored the JAFOE 2011 symposium. Dr. Akira Takamatsu addressed appreciation to the participants and briefly introduced history of JAFOE symposiums.

Opening remarks by Dr. Katharine Frase, Vice President of Industry Solutions and Emerging Business, IBM and Dr. Ichi Kanaya, Associate Professor of Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University (me). (The photo shows Dr. Ichi Kanaya alone.) Dr. Katharine Frase showed what the goal of JAFOE symposium was, how the symposium was organized, and how the four topics were selected. Dr. Ichi Kanaya encouraged all participants to actively connect each other, and concluded with "Engineers, please start your engines".

Massive Data Management

Dr. Cyrus Shahabi, Professor of Department of Computer Science, University of Southern California, and Dr. Takeshi Oishi, Lecturer of Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, University of Tokyo. They gave quick glance at Massive Data Management session. (Image courtesy of Infolab.)

Dr. Johannes Gehrke, Professor of Department of Computer Sciences, Cornell University, presented the design and implementation of scalable data-driven system. He showed an interesting "script" of scripting: forever { imagine; program; share }.

Dr. Asanobu Kitamoto, Associate Professor of Digital Content and Media Science Research Division, National Institute of Informatics presented e-science infrastructure for digital humanities and earth science. He first mentioned four paradigms of science: observation (e.g. a certain types of cloud is followed by rain), theory (e.g. Newton's law), simulation, and data analysis (data centric approach). He introduced the digital silk road project held by NII to illustrate how the fourth paradigm worked.

Dr. Yan Liu, Assistant Professor of Computer Science Department, University of Southern California, presented machine learning and data mining algorithms for solving problems involving structured data, time-series and spatial time-series data, and relational data.

Dr. Yasuhide Okamoto, Postdoctoral Scholar of University of California, Barkley presented huge 3D mesh construction, huge mesh rendering, virtual and mixed reality technology, and human-computer interface. He demonstrated the digital bayon project, the whole 3D model of Ankor Tom, Cambodia.


We had Bento lunch boxes all together for further discussions. Official language during lunch time was English.

Poster Session

Poster session and demonstration. Approximately 60 researchers showed their research in posters.

Smart Grid

Dr. Ning Lu, Senior Research Engineer of Energy Technology Development, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Dr. Masahiro Ishiyama, Senior Research Scientist, Network Systems Laboratory Center, Research & Development Center, Toshiba Corporation gave a brief view of Smart Grid.

Dr. Karen Miu Miller, Associate Professor of Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Drexel University presented the analysis, optimization and control of emerging and evolving power distribution system. She focused on research topics on distributed energy sources.

Dr. Natarajan Venkatakrishnan, Director of Research and Development, Technology Department, GE Appliances presented home energy management.

Official Dinner and Dinner Speach

Dr. Masato Sagawa, Founder of Intermetallics Co., Ltd., and the inventor of NdFeB sintered magnet (Neodymium magnet), showed how the Neodymium (Neodym) magnet was invented, how and why he started up his own company, and many more interesting topics. I was under the impression that Dr. Magnet gave us an invisible magnet to unite us together.

Unofficial Dinner

After the official dinner some of us spent the second dinner at "deep" part of Umeda area. We enjoyed real Sake, which was far better than ones that were often found in souvenir shops in air port.


Smart Grid (Continued)

Dr. Yasuo Tan, Professor of School of Information Science, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology presented ubiquitous network systems in home area. During the Q&A time we had exciting discussion whether we should accept big brother for better energy efficiency.

Dr. Mai Kiuchi, Research Scientist of System Engineering Research Laboratory, Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry presented communication systems for electric utilities and their cyber security.

Bio-inspired Materials

Dr. Alfred Crosby, Associate Professor of Department of Polymer Science and Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst Conte Research Center, and Dr. Naoe Hosoda, Group Leader, Interconnect Design Group, Hybrid Materials Center, National Institute for Material Science showed outlook of bio-inspired (biomimetic) engineering. (Photo shows Dr. Alfred Cosby alone.)

Dr. Darrin Pochan, Professor of Department of Material Science and Engineering, University of Delaware presented self-assembly of polymers, peptides and polypeptides into nanostructures. He showed very interesting molecule that transformed to many different shape so that could have different functions.

Dr. Yuya Oaki, Assistant Professor of Applied Chemistry of Keio University presented biomimetic crystal design.


Dr. Katharine Frase and Dr. Ichi Kanaya, who were designated in general co-chairs of upcoming JAFOE 2012 in USA, had a lunch meeting for selection of new topics for JAFOE 2012.

Bio-inspired Materials (Continued)

Dr. Akira Saito, Associate Professor of Department of Precision Science and Technology, Osaka University presented fabrication and analyses of nanostructures using synchrotron radiation and/or scanning probe microscope, photonics and structural colors based on biomimetics and applications. He brought Morpho butterfly with him and demonstrated how it caused its structure color.

Dr. Shu Yang, Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Department, University of Pennsylvania presented synthesis, characterization and processing of functional polymers and their nanostructures.


Osakajo Castle.


We had dinner on the boat.

Unofficial Dinner

Some of us had unofficial tour to Dotonbori, and enjoyed Takoyaki at bar. (An assistant girl at the bar was kind enough to buy us Takoyaki from outside of the bar. Thank you!)

Unofficial Dinner (Continued)

After enjoying Takoyaki, we enjoyed Osaka-style Tonkotsu ramen.

Unofficial Dinner (Yet Continued)

And we of course enjoyed beer... (This was the third night of bar 667, i.e. my room.)



Dr. Bryan Adams, Cofounder of One Plus Four Ventures, and Dr. Tomomichi Sugihara, Associate Professor of Department of Adaptive Machine Systems, School of Engineering, Osaka University had a short but exciting introduction on robotic technologies (the photo shows Dr. Bryan Adams alone).

Dr. Shingo Ando, Assistant Manager of RT Control Team, Robotics Technology R&D Group, Corporate R&D Center, Technology & Development Division, Yaskawa Electric Corporation presented motion planning and control methods for robot manipulators to improve their performance and expand application fields. We had a very good question at the Q&A time: had we better change the way of designing products for robotic era? Very many things have been designed under the assumption that they are crafted by human or human-like robots so far, but should we drastically push this assumption forward? 

Dr. Matt Wiliamson, Director of Technology Engineering, Heartland Robotics presented problems lying in industrializing research in universities and research institutes. During the Q&A time one of American participants asked if the gap between academia and industry was US specific or universal, and one of Japanese participants answered "we are worse".

Dr. Katsuya Kanaoka, CEO & CTO of Man-Machine Synergy Effectors Inc., presented the state-of-art exoskeleton robotics. At the end of his presentation he showed a part of the Japanese movie APPLESEED for illustrating future exoskeleton robotics. 

Dr. Eduardo Torres-Jara, Assistant Professor of Department of Computer Science, Worcester Polytechnic Institute,  Atwater Kent Laboratories, presented research on artificial intelligence and robotics --- sensitive robotics. His demonstration of beer-serving robot made a lot of fun of us.


Dr. Katharine Frase and Dr. Ichi Kanaya concluded the four sessions. Dr. Katharine Frase emphasized it was quite important to connect each other.