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Student Voice No.5

"A Rich Framework of Studies and Cultural Discovery" 
Christian Sawadogo

Kyoto University

When I look back on four years ago, when I still was an undergraduate student in my home country Burkina Faso in West Africa, I knew only one thing about Japan, which was the quote of Jigoro Kano Sensei written on the wall of our Judo club. It says “It’s not the number of fails that count for a warrior, but the number of times he picks himself up no matter how hard he falls.” As time goes by, I keep practicing the philosophy of this quote while I am studying at Kyoto University. I have gained an opportunity to be a student of this great university through the JICA scholarship program “African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE Initiative). At Kyoto University, I am studying in the department of Civil and Earth Resources Engineering, precisely in the laboratory of Geomechanics. In this laboratory, under the supervision of Professor KIMURA Makoto, I am studying the interaction between soil and structures under different model of soil.

During wind tidal currents, wave actions in coastal areas, or lateral forces during earthquakes, structures likely undergo high overturning moments. The overturning moments generates uplift forces on the piles located on the opposite edge of the tilted structure. My research topic is a numerical analysis on the mechanical behavior of a type of pile foundation subjected to the uplift loads. In such a dynamic laboratory, there are challenges every day. This laboratory, with Japanese students and students from other seven countries such as Singapore, South Korea, America, Cameroon, Indonesia, Thailand, and Burkina-Faso, is a culturally diverse laboratory, which helps us to learn not only about geotechnical engineering, but also different cultures from each other. We all have our learning ways and philosophies. That is very interesting because we always have the opportunity to know how other people solve the same problem. Also, my seniors are always willing to give me explanations and support about my research. The environment is the one in which you always have a mate with whom you discuss with and get new ideas about any topic. We have laboratory seminars almost twice a month during which each of us reports how much he/she makes progress on his/her researches and also shares what problems he/she is facing with in his/her researches. Besides researches and laboratory works, we do have fun and hang out with each other. It’s also a time during which we discover Japan in general and Kyoto particularly. Kyoto is a culturally rich city which has a lot of cultural heritages and places to visit.

I feel very lucky that I could attend the lectures and events organized by JSCE. Those lectures and events are a good framework to learn and to make contact with some experienced practitioners in the various areas of civil engineering. On 24th of November 2017, for example, I attended a site excursion and a Joint Company Information Session in which I learned a lot. At the construction site, I saw an amazing project. It was my first time to visit an underground structure construction site. It was the construction of Route 9 Kyoto West Utility Tunnel. The contractor was Nishimastu Construction Co., Ltd., and they received us in their office to give some explanations about their construction techniques. The main method was the slurry tunneling method, which has a lot of advantages in terms of finances and time management. Also, we had the Joint Company Information Session with some Japanese construction companies. We discussed many topics with them. One thing that I learned from that session was that most of them, had a unique human resources management strategies; any worker was considered as a part of a family, and the family would train him/her at the work of his/her field. That is the reason why some of those companies have their own institutes in which new employees receive training and conduct researches. I am very grateful to my supervisor and JSCE to give me the opportunity to participate to in those events. I am already looking forward to participating in the forthcoming events of JSCE.

At the Calligraphy Lesson

Learning How to Pound Motxhi in Nagano

Himeji Casle

Site Visit