Part 2 Postscripts for Quick/Better Understanding by Editors

1. Problem Setting by Moderator and Standpoints of Panelists and Floor

1.1 Standpoints of the panelists

Professor Peter Stephan presents the importance of “balance” between the transdisciplinary and the usual disciplinary and posed what the positive and negative parts of transdisciplinary are on the basis of his experience. “Transdisciplinary, we work towards broader solutions, more efficient system solutions instead of just towards optimum solutions of small subsystems,” he says during his talk sharing his experience on the positive side to us. It appears that transdisciplinary work not only offers us the chance to earn different knowledge and perspective, but also gives us an opportunity to meet the practical needs of the society and feel the accomplishment fulfilling it. On the other hand, as he says, “Transdisciplinary projects sometimes do not show the usual scientific depth from each disciplinary perspective,” which can be a frustrating matter for scientists.

Another reason why many scientists and engineers do not start a transdisciplinary work may be related to the evaluation process. “Evaluation and reevaluation process of interdisciplinary research activity is often extremely difficult. Different disciplines have their different performance indicators,” says Stephan.

It is obvious that considering these positive and negative sides and also the requirements from the public for transdisciplinary, we carry the same dilemma as Stephan spoke for us: “You can feel the dilemma: transdisciplinary collaboration is needed to solve societal challenges but when it comes to real life it is sometimes very hard and can be also frustrating.” So how can we promote transdisciplinary research and meet the social needs? Perhaps we can start by discussing the points he addressed.

  • Start on bottom-up transdisciplinary projects instead of waiting for top-down calls.
  • Make performance indicators of different disciplines more transparent.
  • Organizing transdisciplinary sessions for topics addressed from very different disciplines.

  • Professor Dimos Poulikakos starts his talk introducing us “what transformative energy technologies are”. Showing us that transformative technologies can give the society a huge impact and significant change and therefore it accompanies many difficulties, Poulikakos advises us how we should prepare ourselves to face such challenge as; “If one sets out with big programs to define transformative energy technologies, one should have a holistic planning from the beginning, not only doing the research, but looking further into the realities within which this technology would have to be implemented in the event that this technology were to be developed successfully.”

    He comments, “Money is not a big problem and what we are missing is effectively important ideas that will basically aid us in achieving targets being set,” which can be one direction to find an answer to the discussion on “top-down” vs “bottom-up” R&D issue.

    Another word which strongly calls our attention in Poulikakos talk would be: “It is important to realize that we must identify where heat transfer is important and we must take advantage of all the opportunities. So, where can heat transfer could play a central and leading role in development in these technologies?” Heat transfer in many case is important and fundamental problem in practical issues particularly in industry. But it may not be a key or core technology and we need to show interest and pay more attention on other fields and the needs of the society, or make action on other societies and politics to make thermal science and engineering take leadership and give significant impacts.

    “You have to have the guts to strike and take high risk yourself,” Poulikakos advices us for publishing a high impact paper. This may apply to the previous discussion, too.

    Professor Yogesh Jaluria brings up the subjects “Environment”, “Energy”, “Safety and Security” to ensure that heat transfer is essential but also make us realize the fact as he says; “We are essentially almost in every domain what the society needs or what the society uses, but still we don't seem to have the standing that we should have.” It appears that in many cases “We have been kind of out of the loop and but not only do we need to do interdisciplinary research and work with many of our colleagues, we need to take the leadership in many different areas,” which can be one important reason and solution for transdisciplinary work and meeting the needs of the society.

    Following the questions “How can we meet this challenge? What should we be doing in order to make a major effect?” which naturally arise in our minds, Jaluria gave several examples to tackle these problems introducing the technologies which requires the knowledge of thermal science and to which we should publish more of our works. He then continues “We really should be in a position to make changes in the policy of ‘funding and control’ ”. Scientists would like to and should, with no doubt, keep working on fundamental research, but on the other hand it may be necessary for us to pay more attention on how it will affect the society. “We need to articulate our search” and “We need to guide the future policies,” Jaluria says answering to the question “Why is our research work important? How do we link our research to applications that are there and critically having the leading role?”

    In the last slide, Jaluria gives us 7 practical suggestions that we need to discuss and try to work out to answer his question: “The leadership has to come from the thermal sciences so that you can ultimately make a big impact on the society. How can we take the leadership and make this impact?”

    Professor Joon Sik Lee focuses on the subject “Green growth” and give us several topics thermal scientist and engineer should consider, and explains to which stage the investment should be made by saying, “The strategic expansion of R&D investment is essential to enhance green technology development and to promote technology transfer for commercialization or industrialization.”

    “There are two chasms”, says Lee. “One from R&D output to tangible assets and the other from tangible assets to the marketable products. But there are valleys between them. How can we overcome these valleys?” To expand the fundamental research work, which often are considered to be completed after publishing papers, and contribute to the society, he states that investment should be made from the public sector and “cooking of basic research” is needed to raise the level of the technology to draw attention from the venture capitalist.

    Professor Yildiz Bayazitoglu highlights the importance of “Education” of thermal science not only to the students but also to the society of thermal engineering and the public. Education is truly essential and is an important mission to gain understanding on the researches and subjects based on thermal science and engineering from the government, public and society, and to take a leading role in transdisciplinary works. She says that the effective way to perform this is; “Students, faculty and administrators should work together to fully exploit new digital technologies for faster information flow, interactive communication, and evolving curricula.“ After showing us how powerful and useful these digital technologies can be in terms of creating interactive environment and fast communication and information flow, and make students become more interested, she says, “more effort should be spent to make tools available to the faculty.” “Another message is we need to create a Global Knowledge Capital of the thermal science,” says Bayazitoglu, and expands the target of education to scientists, engineer and the public. Not only offering courses in education applying the digital technologies, she also tells us “to have transdisciplinary team of engineers or researchers across multiple social perspectives and fields of knowledge to exchange ideas and also work together to solve new problems at the graduate level.”

    1.2 Overview of the questions and comments brought up from the floor and the discussion made (Discussants)

    Dr. James Klausner from University of Florida and DOE raised the question if we need to change the present culture in reward system to enable new technology development or not. After giving an example referring Prof. Wernher von Braun, he says, “in universities now we are in an incredibly bean-counting mode where we look at numbers and not impact.” He then mentioned, “It’s the young assistant professors who are going to change the world and the people who we want to take risk.” But due to the bean-counting movement, he says that it is becoming difficult for young scientists to take this risk. At the end, he asked the panelists the next 3 questions.

  • Do you agree with me that we need a change of culture?
  • How do we change the culture?
  • What have you done collectively to try and change the culture in your institutions?

  • Professor Xing Zhang from Tsinghua University first pointed out that heat transfer is one key technology in the field of energy and says, “improvement in the heat transfer performance can offer a huge potential for saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions so as to reduce global warming.” He then asks, “how this law has changed between the period of the oil shock in 1970s in Japan and at the present in Japan?”

    He raised two more questions concerning transdisciplinary work and thermal scientists meeting societal challenges:

  • How can we create the atmosphere for people to do transdisciplinary collaboration from the top-down?
  • What is the stand of heat transfer in the broad scientific committee?

  • Dr. Junichi Sato from IHI Co. pointed out that science and technologies are not exactly in the same group and says, “most of the scientific result is applied to our society through technologies.” Science may not directly be connected to application and society. “Science in technology and science for technology and then technology in society and the technology for societies,” says Sato. Following his words, it is therefore important to discuss how to communicate with science and technology, and how scientists and engineers can collaborate.

    Among the panelists, first Professor Yogesh Jaluria started giving the reply to these questions. ”it definitely needs changing," he said, referring the bean-counting system in United States. Giving overall pictures, making interdisciplinary works, collaboration with industry are important, but what is necessary as Jaluria says, “good researchers and the scientists and the engineers often tend to keep away from a higher position. So, we need to get into the system in a position where we can make the changes.”

    He then said, “If you look at any of the other fields in engineering, thermal sciences does stand out.” The problem will be how much we are involved in these fields, and he says, “it turns out that our involvement at the top levels is very low, it’s extremely low.” It appears that we need to interact and involve more with policymakers, physical societies and theoretical mechanics, and as he says, “we should involve ourselves with much bigger picture.” To give impact to the society, it is necessary not to stay only in the scientific world or engineering side. We need to make transdisciplinary work which is a hard and challenging work. And to do that Jaluria says, “you have to learn what they are doing, what are their interests, what are they worried about, and show that indeed your work can affect them. It’s a much longer, much more difficult process.”

    Professor Yildiz Bayazitoglu answered by saying, “we need to have a correction on our fundamental undergraduate engineering education or science education.” By using the recent technology, we can now educate science students engineering and teach science to engineers. To realize this system she says, “we should integrate the students learning and the professors themselves.”

    Professor Dimos Poulikakos responded to the problem of bean-counting system by indicating that it is not always the case and said, “This is not how we do business at ETH Zurich.” His idea is that “one paper is enough if it is a very high impact paper.” But as he says, “how do you define high impact and excellence?” still remains as an important issue. But what may be important for scientist making their research, engineers working with their technologies, and people managing projects, may be as Poulikakos says, “you have to have the guts to strike at such comments and take high risk yourself.”

    Professor Peter Stephan agreed that transdisciplinary is important but hard to work with, and said “it’s not difficult to collaborate on a single disciplinary project with industry, but industry typically wants multiple or transdisciplinary projects, and then the collaboration with industry becomes much more difficult.” And he showed one effective way to realize the transdisciplinary work, “you can put the people from different disciplines in one building and sharing one lab,” he says. The thing we should be aware and pay attention is as he says, “and of course you need the right people – first a brilliant idea for the project, then the right people.”

    Talking over transdisciplinary, Poulikakos insisted that we should not forget that to make transdisciplinary works, we need disciplinary work as the basis. “let us not forget disciplinarily – it is the core of our activities,” he says.

    At this point, having many issues raised from the floor and discussion, Kasagi nailed down the problem into more realistic ones concerning the funding system. He addressed the following three questions:

  • Can we justify research funding and acquire public trust by participating in top-down research?
  • How to design, legitimate, implement, evaluate, and push for issue-driven R&D?
  • How to cultivate, stimulate motivation of researchers and keep science autonomy under such policy environment?

  • Jaluria saying that mentioning that funding and the public interest is facing toward issue-driven rather than from the bottoms-up, he says, “if the boundaries are relatively flexible or the domain is fairly large, the envelope is very large, we can then generate our own interest so that it satisfies that,” if we try to find a place in such issue-driven topics and giving an impact to the society. If we keep on staying on our own research field and try to make an impact from this ground, he says, “we would have to show a long-term societal need ourselves.”

    Stephan says, “It has to be a proper balance,“ a balance of the issue-driven and speeds-push R&Ds. “We should try at least to look at the big picture and the topics that are defined on the top, but then come from down in the bottom-up approach,” he says following with the words, “try to define our own goals within these larger subjects.”

    Kasagi compared this matter with baseball saying, “the state of policymakers to decide where the playground is and then it is the science community, which kind of supports baseball or football game you will play.”

    Poulikakos pointed out that we should not keep on waiting for the budget and subjects to come down, and try to make influence to such top-down R&D by means of making sure that it is new money. He says, “if it is the same pie we are talking about and they take a big part of this for the problematic research, what is losing is the bottom-up research.” If we have influence to the decisions of such R&D, then “one has the opportunity of course to come up with the ideas and do high quality basic research,” says Poulikakos. Lee says that in Korea, large project absorbs almost the large portions of total research funds and bottom-up research has actually no room to distribute to the individual researches. Answering to Kasagi’s question how the scientists in Korea feel of it, he says, “many people are very much complaining about it.”

    Surely, the amount of funding is not the only thing which matters and is important, as Jaluria says, “there is a certain amount of satisfaction, a certain amount of pleasure, a certain amount of usefulness that we would feel if we were able to do things, which do have an impact.”

    1.3 Overview of the questions and comments brought up from the floor and the discussion made (Attendees)

    More questions concerning important issues were made from the attendees. Professor Heinz Herwig from Hamburg University of Technology asked, “Do we have indicators for that, that it is relevant? And if not, can and should we develop these indicators?”

    Answering to this question, Poulikakos points out that it will depend if the research is industrially-funded or fundamental. “It’s different a timescale,” he says. Agreeing that it is difficult to measure relevance, Jaluria says, “the fact that the work has generated additional work and most of these are trying to answer certain questions and some major effects have come through, that could be a very vague kind of relevance that we can talk about.” And referring the timescale, Stephan says, “it depends on the timescale,” followed by the words that another indicator might be education and the students we deliver to the society. “This you can see after four-five years immediately, and the rest you can see a fundamental research maybe in 15 or 20 years or maybe never,” he says.

    Professor Itizo Yanagihara from University Sao Paulo Brazil brought up a very important question which we should take very seriously. He indicated that all of the discussions are focused on very well-organized society and that we have billions of people outside this. “Their needs are quite different, and perhaps to fulfill their needs the kind of research or kind of products that we need to develop is different,” he says, and then askes, “how should we also consider in the big picture this kind of a situation in which you don’t necessarily have policymakers or money?”

    Bayazitoglu education is one way to give impact to such societies. “If we educate the society and as I mentioned maybe create some kind of a thermal sciences capital, means we try to educate the public how they can use the energy, how they can use the heat transfer,” she says. And to make such capital function effectively, Bayazitoglu say, “we should try to put them in simple terms and explain them what we are doing to the public.” Jaluria mentioned that there are cases which policymakers and social need are not the only side to give impact to the society and says, “There are cases where there is no need and people don’t perceive that there is a need, but still the fundamental work going on has resulted in tremendous effect.” Still, this question and subject which Yanagihara made us realize should be well considered in the future discussion on the top-down vs bottom-up R&D issue.

    Professor Yukitaka Kato from Tokyo Institute of Technology commented that we can understand the importance qualitatively; however, we don’t know the quantitatively impact on the future.

    Lee replies to this question by saying, “a scientist is to people what they want to do, but an engineer should be doing something that the society wants to do.” And to discuss on giving a more quantitative figure and indicator we may need to pay attention on the fact which he says, “the gap between industry and engineering school is getting wider and wider.”

    Professor Michael Ohadi from University of Maryland came up with the suggestion related to education. “We need to teach the students what they need to know, not what we have in our notebooks from 30 years ago,” he says, “it makes a big difference if we teach courses in entrepreneurship.” And to make innovation in thermal science, he say, “we must make it a must that creativity is very important, particularly for advanced countries where they cannot promote commodity technologies.”

    Agreeing Ohadi’s comment, Stephan adds that we then have to decide what we don’t teach.

    Professor Jorge Alvarado from Texas A&M University mentioned that in certain periods “we had this valley of death where less than 1% of the idea is make it to the marketplace.” But if we face the education, “I guess one of the best products that we put out is basically our students, they have a very in-depth education,” says Alvarado. Making sure that making an engineer a businessman or to make a businessman an engineer is a good idea, Alvarado says, “what we need to do is to create teams.”

    Jaluria answers to this comment by first coming up with the Capstone Design Course. “And it turns out that in many of these cases they already have the physical back ground, they already have the mathematical back ground,” he says. “But I’m saying at the graduate level,” further asks Alvarado. To this, Poulikako, before give us some example of courses, says, “Graduate level, bachelor are really the only place where students can learn some fundamentals.”