Han Ay Lie

Professor of Structural and Material Engineering at Diponegoro University

My Journey of Discovery: Embracing Engineering Excellence as a Sakura Science Exchange Program Awardee in Japan

Hello, I am Arifah Niqmah Nafisah, an aspiring civil engineering student pursuing a Dual Degree Program that combines both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. I commenced my academic journey at Diponegoro University, Indonesia, in 2020 and I am currently continuing my studies at National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan, starting in 2023.

Figure 1. Me (Arifah) in front of the College of Engineering, Nihon University, Koriyama

In the early year of 2023, I had the privilege of being selected as a Sakura Science Exchange Program Awardee by the esteemed Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). This incredible opportunity led me to embark on a life-changing experience as part of the Sakura Science Exchange Program at the College of Engineering, Nihon University, Koriyama, Japan (see Figure 1). In this article, I want to share my unforgettable journey of knowledge sharing, cultural immersion, and personal growth during my week-long engineering courses in February 2023.

As someone from Gresik, East Java, Indonesia, I could never have imagined stepping foot in the Land of the Rising Sun. However, my dedication to civil engineering studies and relentless pursuit of knowledge opened doors I had only dreamed of. Being awarded the Sakura Science Exchange Program scholarship by JST was a dream come true, and I eagerly embraced the opportunity that lay ahead.

Alongside ten other students, I ventured to Koriyama for five days and Tokyo for three days, where the immersive program hosted by Nihon University awaited us. The program offered a perfect blend of theoretical lectures and practical demonstrations by esteemed experts from Nihon University and the University of Tokyo (see Figure 2 and Figure 3)

Figure 2. Collaborative Learning with Chemistry Department, College of Engineering, Nihon University
Figure 3. Learning the Resilience of Infrastructure Systems brought by Prof. Riki Honda at the University of Tokyo

The Sakura Science Exchange Program was more than just academic courses; it was a doorway to cultural enrichment. As I learned cutting-edge engineering concepts, I also immersed myself in Japan’s rich cultural heritage (see Figure 4). Activities at Nihon University and the University of Tokyo provided me with an all-encompassing educational experience.

Figure 4. Exploring the Picturesque Beauty Surrounds Miharu Village

One of the highlights of the program was our visit to Miharu Dam (see Figure 5), where we witnessed a practical demonstration of its vital role in water management and engineering. The opportunity to witness real-world applications of engineering principles added depth to my understanding and inspired me to make a lasting impact in my chosen field.

Figure 5. Group Photo of Sakura Science Exchange Program Participants at Miharu Dam, Koriyama

The Sakura Science Exchange Program empowered me with invaluable knowledge and cultivated my appreciation for global collaboration. Interacting with fellow scholars from diverse backgrounds and esteemed professors ignited my passion for civil engineering and encouraged me to aim higher in my pursuits.

Beyond academics, the program broadened my horizons and enriched my perspective. Embracing Japan’s traditions, cuisine, and hospitality, I formed cherished memories and lifelong friendships that I will always treasure. Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude to the professors who have helped me prepare for our departure to Japan, ensuring the smooth running of this program. Prof. Dr. Ir. Han Ay Lie, M.Eng, Prof. Bagus Hario Setiadji S.T., M.T., Ph.D., Prof. Dr. Eng Buntara Sthenly Gan, and all the participants of the Sakura Science Exchange Program. Your support and guidance have been invaluable, and without you, this wonderful opportunity would not have been possible. Thank you for being a part of this meaningful experience, and I am truly grateful for the knowledge and growth I have gained through your mentorship and the interactions with fellow participa

Han Ay Lie