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Learning from Japan’s Sustainability Concepts

Each of the five students from Masdar Institute of Science and Technology has a different research subject and their internship is being offered by four major corporations in Japan. But they have one objective – learn the benefits of sustainability from all walks of life.

Four weeks into the internship, they have been captivated by the Japanese people who give importance to politeness, hospitality, respectful approach, harmony with others, hard work, punctuality, teamwork, planning ahead and ‘Kaizen’ – a Japanese philosophy which refers to continuous improvement that has a big impact on their corporate vision.

Apart from these aspects of Japanese life, it is the sustainability measures, the government initiatives to implement clean energy technologies and the diverse projects that have impressed the students from Masdar Institute.

So far, they have visited the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Daiba-Tokyo, Shibya Incineration Plant, Machiya – traditional Japanese house, the biomass power generation plant of Japan Novopan Industrial Co, and the City Water Distribution Facilities and Heat supply Center in Osaka. More specifically, the have experienced the effectiveness of PASMO – a handy rechargeable smart card that is used on public bus, trains and subways.

The five students are keen to bring back to Abu Dhabi and the UAE valuable lessons on sustainability learnt during their internship in Japan. More specifically, they aim to deliver their experience to clean energy projects in the UAE.

Sultan Al Kaabi, Master’s Student in Electrical Power Engineering, has started his internship with Chiyoda Corporation, and has been assigned to the Green Device Project Unit for the first two weeks. Currently, he is currently working on preparing an EPC project for the PV plant in the UAE, which involves Engineering, Procurement and Construction parts. Overall, such projects involve intensive practical experience in Planning and Optimization of PV power plant, considering various details and specifications that could be helpful when designing a project or a case study for his thesis.

He believes his internship will personally enable him to offer value to the community.

Al Kaabi says: “Overall, such projects involve intensive practical experience in planning and optimization of PV power plant, considering various details and specifications that could be helpful when designing a project or a case study for my thesis. Furthermore, the training also includes the use of some new software for the first time, which in turn, could provide me with an effective tool on simulation case studies for my thesis.”

Sustainable transportation is part of Abu Dhabi’s long-term economic and social objectives. Japan has a well-developed and highly advanced public transportation system. Taking a cue from the Abu Dhabi Government initiatives, Masdar Institute students are keen to contribute to these projects. One of them is Reem Al Junaibi, student in Engineering Systems Management.

Reem Al Junaibi has started her internship with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Reem’s advisor at Masdar Institute has helped her understand the different types of modeling, the science behind energy management in the transportation sector, and the process of creating a model that will help simulate Abu Dhabi’s traffic as well as energy demand.

Reem says: “I plan to make good use of my time in Japan by learning how to use the necessary tools to simulate Abu Dhabi’s traffic and create a model that will support the future development of sustainable transportation in the UAE.”

Both Mohamed Al Hadhrami, an Engineering System and Management student, and Reem Al Junaibi are doing their internships at the Kobe facility of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, though their subject areas differ. The ‘simulation of the electrification of transportation in Abu Dhabi’ is the focus area for Al Hadhrami while ‘clean mobility simulator’ is the area of interest for Reem Al Junaibi.

Al Hadhrami says: “This internship is closely related to my thesis– almost tailor-made for me. I am a student of the ESM program and my research focuses on the feasibility of sustainable private transportation in Abu Dhabi. As Mitsubishi is a pioneer in the field of sustainable transportation, it is a great opportunity for me to learn from their expertise and find ways to bring benefit to my home country.”

The advantages of doing this internship in Japan include learning new technology from pioneers such as Mitsubishi, and an enriching cultural experience, he adds.

Each Japanese corporation is an established industry leader. JGC is a leading builder of gas processing and liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants worldwide, while Chiyoda is engaged in the integrated engineering business. Toray Industries is a global leader in the production of carbon fiber. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is an international leader in the design and supply of energy, aerospace, machinery, transportation, as well as environmental systems and equipment.

Mozah Zeyoudi, Master’s student in Water and Environmental Engineering, now interning at Toray’s Shiga prefecture facility, has her research focused on water treatment. She says: “The topic of my project is the use of water resources in the UAE that includes desalination of seawater and treatment of wastewater. Working at Toray is linked to my project because the company is one of the leaders in water treatment technology.”

The Emirati students are learning how intuitively the Japanese have devised several sustainable methods. For example, Japan’s City Water Distribution Facilities and Heat supply Center in Osaka stores water below a football stadium – underground. The plant uses the water to generate electricity while supplying the water to residential areas. The Heat supply center at the Nakanoshima district heating and cooling (DHC) plant is another example of efficient use of water to generate power.

The Masdar Institute students have additionally visited the Urban Design Center Kashiwa-no-ha (UDCK), which aims to change Kashiwa into a smart city for 26,000 people. One of the key components of the concept was how smart cities would address environmental and energy issues. The city will have sustainable transportation system including electric cars, bicycles and public transportation (bus and train). Energy conservation will be integral to the city that will also have clean energy (water, wind and solar). It already uses an area energy management system (AEMS) and aims to optimize local power generation.

Sustainability in Japan is similar to what Masdar Institute is propagating. Waste is being recycled, rooftops are covered with solar panels, efficient appliances are used and electric vehicles are seen everywhere. The difference between sustainability in Abu Dhabi and Japan may be the public acceptance and incentives that promote sustainability, points out Al Junaibi.

Established as an on-going collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Masdar Institute integrates theory and practice to incubate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, working to develop the critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow. With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the Institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research.

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