The University of North Dakota and Japan’s Tokai University have inked a four-year extension to a successful collaboration that the two schools launched eight years ago.
“This is very exciting for us,” said Chuck Pineo, executive vice president of the UND Aerospace Foundation, which administers this and several similar international training contracts. “We signed our first agreement with Tokai University in November 2005, and since then more than 200 Tokai students have gone through our program, many now back in Japan working for airlines.”
The latest contract was signed by UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences Dean Bruce Smith and Tokai University engineering Dean Katsumi Hiraoka. Other dignitaries present included UND President Robert O. Kelly, Tokai Aviation Department Chair Keiji Shibata, and Daisaku Noma, a UND Aerospace alum who is on Tokai’s Aviation Department staff.
“We appreciate this collaboration with UND,” Hiraoka said. “We now have 160 pilots with jobs in airlines who went through the UND aviation program. We hope to continue this relationship.”
This is the third agreement made between the schools, which first started working together in 2005. As part of the renewed agreement, Tokai University students attend UND aerospace for 15 months while training to become commercial pilots. The first four-year agreement had two classes a year of about 20 students each. Tokai students are in Grand Forks for approximately 15 months while training to become commercial pilots.
When they leave UND Aerospace, they have both their FAA certificate as well as their Japan Civil Aviation Bureau credentials.
“Next month, we expect 45 students in our aviation program at Tokai; of those, we’ll send 40 to UND,” said Shibata. “We’ve also asked the Japanese government to establish a new scholarship program to support aviation students because there’s a rising demand for pilots. Our students who go to UND do very well.”
The UND-Tokai partnership inspired a Japanese television drama, partly filmed at UND last year. Fuji TV brought 40 cast and crew to the UND campus last September to produce four of the series’ 11 episodes, aired in Japan earlier this year.
In July 2012, the Japanese ambassador to the U.S., Ichiro Fujisaki, met with Tokai students during his visit to UND as part of the Japan-North Dakota Symposium.