Most of the security, safety, conveniences, comforts, abundances and pleasures in daily life and society are brought about by rapid advances in science and technology. Science and technology support the development of economic industries, create a wealth of value and affect our daily lives. It is not an exaggeration to say that even within science and technology, quantum science that deals with physical phenomena on a micro level such as electrons, atomic nuclei and atoms is the "cornerstone" of modern science. By understanding and delving into the world of quantum studies which began in the early twentieth century, we have unlocked many mysteries and have acquired various knowledge and information in the process.
There are developments in accessible applications of quantum science and energy engineering in the energy, medical, environmental and other fields. Of them, very well-known examples include the nuclear fission reactor which utilizes and controls nuclear reactions to extract thermal energy. As an energy source in the future, another example is the nuclear fusion reactor which is being cumulatively researched and experimented on through global collaborative efforts.
Depending heavily on resources from overseas, it is said that Japan has a mere 4% self-sufficiency rate in energy. Maintaining energy security, which entails the continuous and stable securement of sufficient energy at reasonable prices, remains an enormous challenge. Therefore, we think that nuclear energy and the nuclear fuel cycle that meets sustainability issues are both essential. Furthermore, with the goals of reducing greenhouse gases and moving away from fossil fuel dependence, nuclear energy which does not emit carbon dioxide during its production process along with other renewable energy sources play a significant role in a stable power supply.
However, to be able to use nuclear energy in a safe and stable manner, avoiding an accident such as the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster at all costs is a precondition. As a university that has undertaken “quantum science and energy engineering” research and education for over half a century and has turned out numerous human resources for the nuclear power sector, we researchers and educators are looking at this disaster squarely. The results of our examination and self-searching on the matter are reflected in our new subjects for research and education systems. “The lack of commanding a view over the complete picture” has been given as one of the reasons for the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. We have now begun training human resources who can be held accountable to society - engineers and researchers who are not only highly knowledgeable in radiation, radioactivity, nuclear reactors and others, but are also highly ethical and possess a wide vision, critical thinking skills and communication skills.
Recovery from the Fukushima disaster is still ongoing. Now, more than ever, there is a need for people who have advanced skills and insights on nuclear energy; as well as an outlook for the future. As educators, the roles that we need to fulfill and the responsibilities that we have are enormous. On the other hand, the development and evolution of "quantum science and energy engineering" as a discipline that can meet the new demands of the times and society such as applications in the medical and environmental and nuclear fusion fields are attracting attention and expectations.
"Converting 'nuclear engineering' into power that will broaden the future" - we who aim to create new science and technologies have this is as our mantra.