AANHPI Heritage Month: An Interview with Kenji Uchino, SMNAI

A graphic shows headshot of Kenji Uchino with the text “#AANHPIHeritage Month NAI celebrates Kenji Uchino, SMNAI” followed by “Professor, The Pennsylvania State University”.As we celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, read as Kenji Uchino, SMNAI, Professor at NAI Member Institution The Pennsylvania State University, shares with us what inspires him to be an inventor and how he feels universities or programs can continue to promote innovative solutions.

Q: What words would you use to describe yourself?
A: One of the pioneers in “Piezoelectric Actuators”; One of the pioneers in “Entrepreneurship for Engineers”; The US Ambassador to Japan for promoting “Global Technology Collaboration”

Q: What inspired you, and continues to inspire you, to be an inventor?
A: Interaction with friends in different research categories so as to create a suitable application patent for a specific device

Q: Why are you passionate about being an innovator?
A: I have consulted with technical innovation/improvement for more than 130 worldwide companies, leading to more than 5 products including NEC’s Dot-Matrix printer actuator, Toyota’s diesel-injection valve, Samsung’s mobile phone module, NASA’s Hubble telescope control actuator module, and Army’s Programable Air-Burst Munition. I would like to create more Best-Selling devices for improving the daily living style.

Q: In your spare time, in addition to working in your field, what do you love to do?
A: Walking 8,000 steps with my wife to Ginza or Nihonbashi shopping areas in daily routine, for enjoying lunch with wine.

Q: What advice would you give your younger self, or young innovators, pursuing a career in research and/or innovation?
A: Never search the Google first. Otherwise, your thought will be biased by the former research, so that a really creative idea will be restricted to occur.
You should follow the research procedure like below:
(1) First, think by myself on the new research topic, then (2) start the experiment. After (3) receiving the experimental result, now (4) we can use “Google” to check a similar research topic to mine. (5) If we find a similar project, check the difference of your result from the former research result.

Q: How do you feel universities or programs can continue to promote innovative and diverse solutions?
A: Educate the graduate students on the Entrepreneurship, especially, on the patent writing, through which the students can learn what the innovative idea is.

Q: What advice would you give to institutions looking to bolster their innovation and entrepreneurship programs for the next generation of innovators?
A: Choose a suitable professors as the educators. Currently, most of professors have social, economic or financial backgrounds, not many Engineering professors can teach in the business school. I am one of the exceptional MBA professor even in my university. This is the most serious problem at present.

To read more about Dr. Uchino and his work, visit: https://ow.ly/8GEA50RO9ey