Last Wednesday we had the oral examination for the undergrads in our department. For the final clarification, our undergrads have to pass the three hurdles, consisting of i) approval from the supervisor, ii) oral defence against the other professors, and iii) thesis evaluation. The situation depends on university and even department. In some places, one or two hurdles among the three mentioned above are not required. For instance, I saw (in a different place) that undergrads can finish their course only with approval from their supervisors. Nevertheless, in our department the students have to get through all the gates. It is actually not easy and tough, but I think the experience is quite necessary for them. According to the newspaper, some people argue that the undergraduate project (so-called SOTSUKEN in Japanese) is not necessary for engineering schools, for which most of the students proceed to the master course. I strongly disagree with such an idea. To my observation, the students improves their basic skills for making research during thesis writing and preparation for presentations. I believe that repetitive practice is useful for research skills. In this fiscal year, there are 5 undergrads in our group, and all of them have passed the second stage. Their presentations were reasonably nice, in a sense that the questions they had from the other professors were technically and scientifically sound. To see the situation I believe that the contents of their research were correctly conveyed. Nevertheless, now they are in the final stage and are struggling to finish the thesis. I have checked their manuscripts already twice. Some of them seem safe, but the situation for the others might be somewhat thrilling… The deadline is next Wednesday… Let us see.
I have found an interesting study for adhesives. The study does not focus the material itself, but the macroscopic structure of the adhesive tape. Intuitively, the adhesive becomes strong if the contact area is increased. But this specific study shows that such an idea is not always true, and better adhesive could be made by Kirigami. Very interesting.