Tell us a bit about yourself.
I graduated from Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) in spring 2016 with a B.A. in Mechanical Engineering. Since then, I have been working as a design engineer mainly on client custom product design and development. It was during my undergraduate studies and more specifically during my senior project that I discovered my passion for robotics and that was when I aligned my future goals toward research in robotics.
Why were you selected? Can you walk us through the whole application/acceptance process?
There are essentially two ways to apply for the Japanese government MEXT scholarship: One is through the Embassy of Japan in Lebanon and the other is directly through the Japanese University where the selection process is mainly governed by the grades and the research proposals submitted by the applicants. Although I first applied through the Embassy of Japan in Lebanon, Dr. Ishiguro asked them to recommend someone for direct application through Osaka University. The embassy recommended me chiefly because of the similarity of my interests with Dr. Ishiguro’s research projects. I was asked to be ‘unofficially’ interviewed by Dr. Ishiguro through Skype where he probed my academic background and my research interests. The interview was a success, and he recommended me for the scholarship. A month later, I was asked to sit for another Skype interview with Dr. Ishiguro (this time it was official) and the department heads of the Graduate School of Engineering Science at Osaka University. In the interview, I iterated my background, my research interests, my plans, and my interest in Japanese culture. The following month, I finally received my official acceptance letter from Osaka University.
How will your time at Osaka University help shape you as a person as you transition from being a former NDU student to a postgraduate student studying in Japan?
I am hoping that my time at Osaka University will help me become a better researcher, as I transition from an undergraduate degree with fairly little experience in academic research to a graduate student trained in a lab with an extensive portfolio in high-end robotics research. I am also excited to immerse myself in Japanese history, language, traditions, and culture and absorb their way of life, which has always fascinated me.
What do you expect to gain from this experience?
As I am presented with the opportunity to not only study for a master’s degree but also to conduct research at the Intelligent Robotics Lab, it is important to make the most of this opportunity. First, by conducting significant research that might help develop the field and second, by gaining experience in academic research to help me secure a Ph.D. position. Finally, by learning the language, history, and traditions of Japan.
What advice would you like to give to current NDU students?
My only advice to fellow #NDUers is to work hard for what you want to achieve. It is true that chance, fate, or luck plays a huge part in presenting you with opportunities, and all you can do is be prepared to seize those opportunities through the effort and time invested in your studies and/or projects.
What role did NDU play in helping you achieve this remarkable opportunity?
There is no denying the immense role NDU played by providing me with a high-quality, well-rounded education as well as the constant support and advice from my advisor and different professors. Also, the University staff was always available to listen to our requests (from solving concerns before an exam and helping us with the applications and recommendations to helping us choose relevant topics for research proposals). This type of dedicated support made everything much easier. Not to mention the essential role NDU played to secure Dr. Ishiguro’s visit and notable presentation in Lebanon, which for me was ultimately the golden key to this life-changing door.