ACEEES 1st International Education Forum
at Waikoloa, Hawaii

By Alvin Christopher Galang Varquez

Last December 14-18, 2012, the first International Education Forum sponsored by the program for Leading Graduate Schools "Academy for Co-creative Education of Environment and Energy Science (ACEEES)" was held at Waikaloa, Hawaii. The ACEEES program is spearheaded by Tokyo Institute of Technology. The forum was participated by students and professors from prestigious universities around the world. For detailed information regarding the program and the event click here:

I, Kanda-sensei and Inagaki-sensei represented our department in the forum. Before attending the event, I got myself preoccupied with WRF UCM update testing with Nakayoshi-san. It had to be rushed before the year ended. Furthemore, being one of the few speakers on the last day, I felt confident presenting to an audience whom most of which were my acquaintances and whom I thought were less knowledgeable of my field, apart from Professor Siegfried Raasch and his students. So as a result, I decided to find time to finish my presentation slides during the forum.

Along with the pressure of finishing my preparation, I felt the ACEEES forum was among my very memorable conference participations.

After a 7-hr flight, the delegates from Tokyo Tech arrived Honolulu at 7:00AM of December 14, 2012 and waited for 2 hours for our connecting flight to Waikaloa. We were greeted with very warm sunshine and a very hospitable airport staff. From a distance, cumulus cloud formations were visible. Finally, we're at the tropics.

Sunset view at Waikaloa

The conference venue, Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, was located on an artificially developed land on a remote western side of the Big Island. Upon reaching our destination, we had enough time to eat brunch and explore the vicinity while the organizers briefed the professors. The hotel was equipped with Surrounding the venue were hardened magma. Almost 100-m. from the hotel was the beach. It amazes me how the locals took precious care of their environment. The most beautiful scene I witnessed was the sunset sinking beyond the horizon. For our room assignments, we had to share it with two other students from different universities.

The forum was intended to generate or share further knowledge related to energy and the environment. In my opinion, the underlying goal of the event was for the students to develop critical thinking, resourcefulness, networking, and creativity; creative in the sense of interpreting information and sharing one's expertise to people of various educational backgrounds. During the forum, the tasks of each student were two-fold. The first was to present a topic related to their individual research. The forum had twelve sessions all energy and environment-related. The forum starts at 8:00 in the morning with two invited lectures. Prof. Raasch was invited to present his expertise on Large Eddy Simulations. His impressive lecture was entitled, gNew Trends in High Resolution Large-Eddy Simulations of the Atmospheric Boundary Layer: From Fundamental Research to Environmental Applicationsh.

I got my chance to present in the regional environment session. My presentation was entitled, "Advancement and Challenges of Weather Forecasting in Urban Areas". I felt a little nervous in the middle of the conference when I found out that a good number of the participants actually had firm backgrounds in fluid and thermodynamics.

For the second presentation, we had to work with our roommates to come up with a 5-min. talk regarding an assigned controversial issue. Each group was decided beforehand by the organizers. My group was quite diverse, comprising a Filipino (me) from Tokyo Tech, a Peruvian from Georgia Tech, and a Japanese student from Cambridge. Our assigned topic was regarding the demand of Uranium in the next decades.

We were also very glad to welcome Kanda-sensei's invited participants from University of Hannover, Germany. Mr. Marius Keck, Ms. Theres Riechelmann and Ms. Farah Kanani. For more information regarding their research, please visit

At the welcome reception
From L-R: Mr. Marius Keck, Ms. Theres Riechelmann, Ms. Farah Kanani, Prof. Siegfried Raasch, Prof. Manabu Kanda, Dr. Atsushi Inagaki, myself

At the banquet. Apologies for the poor resolution of the left photo.

At a dinner with Inagaki-san and Kanda-sensei after the technical tour.
We drew carictures of ourselves on htetable.

As expected for conferences, we had three very rich dinners: welcome reception, banquet, and farewell party (awarding ceremony). I took huge portions of serving and overflowing drinks. During the welcome reception, we dined with Professor Raasch and his students on the terrace overlooking the pool below and the coconut trees covering the beach. We all had a good time talking about our expectations for the conference and our trip that we almost forgot about the time. At the banquet, we were entertained by local talents who told stories with their hula dancing and singing. Later in that same evening, we were encouraged to dance on stage by one of the organizing professors from Georgia Tech. For the farewell party, we had the awarding of best presenters. Our laboratory along with Prof. Raasch's lab won awards. Luckily, I got best presenter award in my session. Ms. Farah from Prof. Raasch achieved three awards that night: best presenter for her session, best group presenter, and the bingo game (together with Ms. Theres). For the rest of the dinners throughout the conference, I'm grateful to Kanda-sensei and Inagaki-san. We had interesting casual conversations about life and research which made me look up to them even more. I felt more comfortable and inspired working under their supervision.

We also had a technical tour on the 17th of December. I didn't realize how fascinating the island was until we had our field trip on the 17th of December. One bonus was the very entertaining bus tour guide. He just couldn't stop talking which was hilarious. Imagine being able to experience four seasons in one day. A volcanic island, Hawaii's Big Island was very interesting because of the trade winds blowing from the eastern side of the island. Our conference was held at the Western side where we felt warm and surrounded with magma. On a bus-ride from the Western side to the Eastern coast, we witnessed lush vegetation and different architecture which the tour guide describes as a scene similar to the ones in Europe or other US states. We had three significant stop-overs: the NOAA National Weather Service Mauna Loa Observatory where we had a lecture on the climate of Hawaii and the Subaru Telescope, a viewing deck for an active volcano where we saw scientific and mythological explanations, and a tunnel passing under a volcano.

Transition of colors
From upper left to lower right: hardened magma surrounding the hotel, view from the hotelfs terrace, on one of the mountains overlooking Mauna Kea, a rainbow after the rain at the eastern side of Big Island

Walking towards the planetarium where we had a short lecture
At NOAA Observatory

During my free time (mostly at night), I go to the beach, swim in the pool, or drink with my old and new-found friends. When all presentations were over, I was fortunate to swim with a sea turtle! Among the animals I find very fascinating, secondary to humans of course, are turtles. There's much to learn from them. The most silent of creatures yet they appear to be contented with what they have.

Finally, exposing ourselves to different fields allows us to be more appreciative of diversified knowledge, enabling us to be more curious and filled with purpose. In the end, we all have to work together to succeed.

Sea turtle lying on the shore

Me and the rest of the awardees

Special thanks to the following for the photos:ACEEES Organizer, Dr. Atsushi Inagaki, Ms. Theres Riechelmann, Prof. Siegried Raasch, Mr. Takashi Yamazaki