About Program – U.S. Students

Nakatani RIES Fellowship For U.S. Students – About Program

The Nakatani RIES Fellowship for U.S. Students is a 13-week, summer research internship in science & engineering that is open to freshman and sophomore engineering students from universities nationwide. This summer program seeks to cultivate interest in science & engineering research among young U.S. undergraduate students, especially those from underrepresented groups, and encourages such students to pursue future graduate study. To be eligible students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Up to 12 students will be selected to participate annually.

The program design, combining the best aspects of a traditional study abroad experience with intensive high-technology research internships, is modeled off of the award-winning NanoJapan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates Program (2006 – 2015) which has been nationally recognized as an innovative and effective model for international STEM programs.

The Nakatani RIES Fellowship for U.S. Students program will include the following program components. Opportunities will also be provided for engagement with RIES Fellows from Japan via shared in-person workshops and networking and opportunities for virtual engagement via online webinars and e-mentorship.

  • Pre-Departure Orientation at Rice University
  • Introduction to Science & Engineering Research in Japan Seminar
  • Japanese Language & Culture Orientation in Tokyo
  • Research Internship in a leading science or engineering research host lab at a Japanese university or research institution
  • Mid-Program Meeting
  • Re-Entry Program at Rice University
  • Enrollment in Rice University Summer School for 3 credits of Engineering Research (ELEC 490)
  • Alumni Follow-on Project

Pre-Departure Orientation at Rice University
1 day, Mid-May

This workshop will provide an overview of the summer program, including expectations for working in Japanese research labs and dealing with cultural differences. The pre-departure program will be held at Rice University the day immediately prior to departure for Japan.

Orientation Program in Tokyo, Japan
Three weeks, Mid-may to early-June

The Orientation Program is designed to introduce students to science & engineering research and the competencies required to work successfully in the global research community. The orientation program will also provide students with a solid foundation in basic Japanese language and intercultural skills that they can then build upon during the research internship period. The three-week orientation program consists of three short courses including:

  • Introduction to Science & Engineering Research in Japan Seminar (24 hours, over three weeks): U.S. and Japanese professors will present lectures on science & engineering research in Japan, including structure of higher education and research in Japan and highlighting cutting-edge research achievements and innovations. This seminar may also include company or university research lab visits.
  • Intensive Japanese Language Study (45 hours, over three weeks): All students will undertake Intensive Japanese language classes that will be offered at both the beginning and intermediate level. These courses will focus on spoken competency and are designed to provide students with a foundation of understanding of the language that they can continue to build upon during their research internship through self-study or utilization of online resources.
  • Introduction to Japanese Culture & Society Seminars: These seminars aims to provide students with an introduction to Japanese culture, society, and history through guest lectures and company site visits. Students will also participate in experiential excursions that will introduce them to Japanese life and culture. As part of this seminar, U.S. students will engage with Japanese students via once weekly evening discussion sessions.

Research Internship in Science & Engineering
Nine weeks, Early June – Early August

Participants will be placed in Japanese university or research institution labs under the advisement of a Japanese host professor. All students will be assigned an English-speaking Japanese graduate student research mentor. Projects will be arranged by Prof. Kono in consultation with the Japanese host lab professor and mentors and research projects/hosts may vary each year. In addition to their Japanese professor and graduate student, each American student will be co-advised by a U.S. professor who has experience and expertise with U.S.-Japan research collaborations.

The Japanese host labs are selected for their willingness to mentor a young undergraduate student, for contributions to cutting-edge science & engineering research leaders in Japan, and a desire to increase the international diversity and intercultural competencies of Japanese group members by providing them with an opportunity to work with American undergraduates.

The goals of the research internship are to:

  • Provide students with hands-on experience with cutting-edge science & engineering research;
  • Enhance students technical and research skill sets;
  • Enable students to collaborate in an international research effort;
  • Enhance students inter-cultural communication & Japanese language skills;
  • Encourage students to pursue future graduate study and research.

Mid-Program Meeting
Three days, July

Approximately half-way through the research internship period, all students to come together again for a three-day Mid-Program Meeting; typically held in Kyoto, Japan. The group setting allows the U.S. students to reflect on their experiences in the lab and share tips with their fellow students on best practices for working in a Japanese research lab.

The Mid-Program Meeting will include:

  • A Mid-Program De-Briefing Meeting to address any cultural or research issues or questions
  • Introduction & Tour of a Japanese Company
  • Research Project Update Presentation by U.S. Students
  • Sight-seeing/Cultural Excursion in Kyoto

Re-Entry Program & Research Poster Presentation
Four days, Early August

The capstone experience of Nakatani RIES U.S. Fellow Program will be the presentation of a topical research poster on their summer project at the Rice University Smalley-Curl Institute Colloquium. Final week programming will also include a re-entry program for U.S. students that will help students integrate their international experience into future academic & career plans, presentation training, resume and interview workshops, and a seminar highlighting further opportunities for international study and research for STEM students.

Follow-on Project
To be completed in the semester following participation in RIES

All participants in the Nakatani RIES Fellowship will be required to carry out a follow-on project at their home university or in their local/home community that encourages other students to pursue science & engineering study and research and/or international research and study opportunities. These follow-on projects should highlight the Nakatani RIES program and be designed to share key aspects of your international and research experiences with the next generation of students and researchers in your field.

Follow-on projects are self-designed by each participant and a project proposal must be submitted during the final week of the program and approved by program staff. Students must submit a Follow-on Project report within six months of the conclusion of the Nakatani RIES program that includes an overview of the completed project and submit 1 – 3 photos of the outreach activity.

Students will submit their Follow-on Project proposal during the final week of the program. Some possible Follow-on Projects may include, but are not limited to the following.  For information on what past fellows have done, see our Alumni Updates page.

  • Presentations on Nakatani RIES Fellowship to student organizations, professional society chapters, academic departments, etc. at your home university;
  • Hosting a table or information session on the Nakatani RIES Fellowship at your home university study abroad office, study abroad fair, research abroad fair, or other related campus event;
  • Submitting an article on your Nakatani RIES Fellowship to your home university newspaper, academic department newsletter or website, or other university office newsletter or website;
  • Presenting your Nakatani RIES research project poster at other relevant conferences or events in your field (with the prior approval of Prof. Kono & your Research Host Professor)
  • Giving a presentation on the Nakatani RIES Fellowship and your international & research experience to local K-12 schools, particularly at the middle-school or high-school level, to encourage the next generation of students to pursue science & engineering study and research;
  • Other projects ideas also will be considered.

We encourage creativity in your outreach approach!

Academic Credit
The Nakatani RIES Fellowship is a credit-bearing program and all participants will be enrolled as visiting students through the Rice University Summer School. Information on summer school application and enrollment will be provided to selected participants in the spring.

U.S. Fellows will received 3 credits of engineering research projects (ELEC 490) with Prof. Junichiro Kono serving as the instructor. Upon successful completion of the program a letter grade will be issued for this course and students can then request a Rice University transcript through the Registrar’s office (non-Rice students will use the National Student Clearinghouse).

Note: Participants who would like to transfer this credit to their home university degree should contact the Nakatani RIES office and their home university academic department/advisor well in advance of departure for Japan. Most universities require that student’s submit requests for transfer of credit prior to participation and the Nakatani RIES office will work with participants to provide any course-related documentation that your home university may request.

Other Program Logistics
Most costs related to student participation in the Nakatani RIES Fellowship are funded by the Nakatani Foundation. Travel logistics and research project arrangements will be directly coordinated by program faculty and staff. All students will be provided with international health insurance that will provide coverage abroad for illness/accident, medical evacuation, and repatriation of remains.

For more information please see our Program Funding page.

The Nakatani RIES Student Experience
Applicants are strongly encouraged to review website profiles of our past participants to learn more about what the experience of conducting research in Japan. You can also download PDFs of our past participant’s research posters and abstracts from these website profiles.

  • 2017 U.S. Fellows
  • 2016 U.S. Fellows
  • Nakatani RIES is modeled off of the award-winning NanoJapan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates Program. Applicants may also want to review profiles of the 144 U.S. students who participated in this program from 2006 – 2015 on the Alumni Updates page of the archived NanoJapan: IREU website.

Remember, your experience will be unique and different from our past participants.  Research host labs and projects may vary, the members of a research group will change as students graduate and new students join, and each participant’s motivations, personality, and attitude will be different and influence your experience in Japan. No two student’s experiences will be exactly alike.

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