The European Commission and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) have announced the results of the first call for proposals for Erasmus Mundus Master Joint Degree Partnerships with Japan. Only three programmes were selected, and a programme in the field of virtual reality by the University of Eastern Finland and Toyohashi University of Technology in Japan is among them.
“The new programme is called Master of Science in Imaging and Light in Extended Reality, IMLEX. We secured 3 million euros of funding, with the European Commission and the MEXT splitting the bill,” says Professor Markku Hauta-Kasari, responsible project leader.
Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree Programmes are high-level degree programmes offered jointly by consortia of several universities. Funding is awarded to Erasmus Mundus programmes for the programme activities and for covering the costs of student scholarships.
“The funding we secured now makes it possible to run the programme from 2019 to 2025. Over this period of time, we will be training 80 new experts for the field of virtual reality,” Hauta-Kasari notes, delighted.
“The programme is a two-year Master's degree programme with an annual intake of 20 students. The first students will start in 2020, and the last ones under this funding will be graduating in 2025. All students will start their studies in Joensuu, to be followed by a study period in either France or Belgium. The second year of study will be completed in Japan, and they will write their thesis for an academic institution or for a company in the field,” Hauta-Kasari says, explaining the programme structure.
The multidisciplinary IMLEX programme brings together image conversion, lighting and computer science. The objective of the programme is to train experts who in addition to a solid theoretical understanding of virtual reality will also possess strong practical skills in virtual reality applications. Students on the IMLEX programme will benefit from European research expertise combined with Japanese expertise in research addressing virtual reality and robotics.
The IMLEX programme is implemented by a consortium of four universities. In addition to UEF and Toyohashi University of Technology, Université Jean Monnet Saint-Etienne in France and KU Leuven in Belgium are also participating. At UEF, the programme is carried out by the Institute of Photonics and the School of Computing. The Japanese partners are Utsunomiya University and Chiba University. The programme also boasts leading virtual reality companies as collaborators, including Process Genius, Dispelix and Brighterware from Finland, as well as the multinational Nvidia corporation.
“The realisation of the IMLEX programme at the University of Eastern Finland speaks volumes of the long-term collaboration UEF has with Japan,” says Hauta-Kasari, who himself has spent more than two years in Japan as a researcher. Nowadays, this collaboration with Japan is something we do on a daily basis, thanks to a great number of different people,” he says.
IMLEX is also linked with the Photonics Research and Innovation platform, PREIN, a Flagship Programme of the Academy of Finland.
For further information, please contact: Professor Markku Hauta-Kasari, tel. +358 50 4056 231, markku.hauta-kasari(at)uef.fi
Press release by the European Commission: