News- Study at KyotoU

06 Apr 2017
  • Study at KyotoU

Students build ITER fusion reactor with LEGO bricks in 4 days (3 March 2017)

From 28 February through 3 March, Taishi Sugiyama and Kaishi Sakane, second-year master's students at the Graduate School of Energy Science, worked on building a LEGO model of the ITER Tokamak nuclear fusion reactor. They successfully completed the task in the scheduled four days. Their challenge took place at the ITER headquarters in Saint-Paul-lès-Durance, France, and the completed model was presented to Director-General Bernard Bigot, who congratulated the two on the quality of their creation and their meticulous attention to technical detail.

The project was supported by Kyoto University under the SPEC (Student Projects for Enhancing Creativity) program, which crowdfunds unique and creative proposals selected through a competition.

Note: LEGO is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies.

Sakane (left) and Sugiyama during their LEGO challenge

The completed LEGO model on display at the ITER headquarters

Comments from the students

At the Kyoto University LEGO Club, most of the students are enrolled in the Advanced Atomic Energy Research Section of the Institute of Advanced Energy (IAE). We are working to share the latest advances in energy engineering, especially those related to nuclear fusion, with the general public using LEGO, everybody's favorite toy. We decided to feature the ITER experimental fusion reactor in our latest project hoping to highlight the machine's vast potential as an energy source.

With our SPEC funding, we took off for France immediately after submitting our master's theses, and spent the next four days assembling LEGO bricks in the lobby of the ITER headquarters.

In order to make the most of our four-day stay in Saint-Paul-lès-Durance, we had made meticulous preparations, drawing up a detailed work schedule in coordination with ITER's science communications staff, and endeavoring to create a flawless model design.

Our work at ITER received constant attention from researchers and engineers coming from across the world, and we enjoyed the generous support of Japanese staff throughout this phrase of our project.

The construction progressed fairly smoothly, except on the final day, when an accident happened and made us aware of some of the challenges involved in working in an international environment.

In the end, we were able to finish the job on time and on budget, hopefully demonstrating to the world our planning skills and commitment to success, as well as the ability to take action, for which KU students are known.

We are infinitely grateful to the SPEC program for this amazing experience, and wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to all our donors and supporters. We would also like to ask everyone to keep supporting KU students' omoroi (unique, creative, and intriguing) activities through SPEC.

Taishi Sugiyama and Kaishi Sakane
Energy Conversion Science, Graduate School of Energy Science
Kyoto University LEGO Club

Comments from the supervisors

The LEGO Club originated as a faculty outreach project, but is now being led by a group of highly sensitive and capable graduate students.

With support from the SPEC program, Taishi Sugiyama and Kaishi Sakane built a detailed model of a nuclear fusion reactor out of locally procured 40,000 LEGO bricks, completing the task on time and on budget. This remarkable feat was made possible by the students' master's-level technical expertise, strong design skills developed through four years of LEGO Club activities, and the thoroughness with which they planned their work in coordination with ITER's science communication staff.

We are extremely proud of the fact that our laboratory has produced such capable individuals, ones with extensive expertise and communication skills.

Professor Satoshi Konishi and Associate Professor Ryuta Kasada
Advanced Atomic Energy Research Section, Institute of Advanced Energy, Kyoto University

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