Message for students 2021: Mingqi Wu
March 26, 2021
Creating New Technologies That Cross Areas
System Platform Research Laboratories
After majoring in radio-frequency integrated circuits during his school days, Wu joined NEC in October 2016 after receiving his master's degree. While researching topics such as metamaterial antennas and high capacity optical communication, he has built up a track record of successfully submitting research papers and giving oral presentations on these research themes at international conferences.
Researching metamaterial antennas and optical communication
After joining NEC, I was assigned to the System Platform Research Laboratories and conducted research in two areas. The first was research and development of wireless antennas. I have been working on metamaterial antennas to improve their performance and reduce their size. These are essential and important technologies as our society enters the 5G and 6G eras.
Subsequently, since 2019 I have been undertaking a new challenge which is my current research theme that involves the research and development of high capacity optical communication technologies. This fact may not be very well-known, but NEC is a globally top ranking company in optical communication. The company has a roughly 30% global share of submarine communications. I feel a great sense of purpose to be able to conduct research in such an environment. My current research targets are to improve the performance and robustness of fiber-optic transmission systems and to lower their cost. I am aiming for communication systems which further reduce current costs and operate at a high level of performance in a stable manner. I am advancing this research not only at the device level but also from the viewpoint of technologies which can automatically optimize at the system level.
Ideas are created by crossing areas
Some people might feel uneasy when the research theme changes, but there is absolutely no need for such concern. During my student days, I majored in the design of radio-frequency integrated circuits, so I was initially perplexed when I was assigned to the metamaterial antenna research and development team. However, in talking to my boss I understood that I would be able to apply my previous knowledge base and since I was surrounded by many of the world's top researchers, I was able to quickly catch up while having them teach me what I did not know as needed.
In addition, there is a significant opportunity in joining research from a different field. During my research on metamaterial antennas, I got the idea from the radio-frequency integrated circuits that I was studying as a student, and came up with a technology that can change the way electromagnetic waves are transmitted as desired even after the antenna is fabricated. As a result, my research paper was accepted by IEEE AP-S, the most influential international conference in the antenna field, and I gave an oral presentation on the topic.
Moreover, when I shifted to researching large capacity optical communication, I was surprised to learn that things that were commonly done in wireless communication were not applied at all to optical communication. By crossing different fields, you can encounter such unexpected discoveries. The seeds of ideas can be found precisely in such places. I realize that while the posture of deeply researching one point is also important, interesting research can be generated by broadly researching in a lateral manner. As a result of conducting research from this type of approach, my research paper was recently adopted by the OECC 2020 international conference on optical communication, and I also gave an oral presentation.
An environment rich in diversity
NEC is a company that actively participates in conferences. For example, even if your research paper is not accepted by a conference, if you clearly explain the reasons to your boss, you can take part in and attend a conference that you wish to go to. I think that having strong ties with academia is an extremely positive point for a research laboratory.
Moreover, NEC is rich in diversity. After graduating from a Japanese university, I interviewed with several Japanese companies, but NEC was the only company that said it was not a problem at all if you could not speak Japanese. In fact, everyone at the research laboratory can speak English, and English language materials are also prepared for the annual kickoff and other important meetings. The internal company systems are also being converted to English.
Many of the Japanese employees assigned to the business units can also understand English. What was interesting was that one business unit person that I worked together with on a certain project was able to understand spoken English but unable to speak it. Meanwhile, I am able to understand spoken Japanese but still not very adept at speaking it. Therefore, to explain how we were able to communicate with each other, the other person would speak in Japanese, and I would respond in English. We were able to mutually understand what the other person was saying, so we were able to communicate without any trouble by using this method. So, I think that you should not be too concerned if you cannot speak Japanese. The company also provides Japanese lessons, so I think that you will quickly become familiar with the language.
A day at work
Message to my past self in my school days
I love the mountains, so I often go mountain climbing. There were no mountains close to my hometown in China, so I started mountain climbing at university when I came to Japan. Recently, I have continued to work remotely, so I go mountain climbing about twice a month in order to get some physical exercise. NEC also has a Tamagawa Alpine Club, so you can get acquainted with many mountain climbing enthusiasts.