Keynote Speakers

Prof. Atsuko K. Yamazaki
Graduate School of Digital Hollywood University, Japan

Atsuko K. Yamazaki serves as a Specially Appointed Professor at the Graduate School of Digital Hollywood University, Japan. Her expertise lies in communication studies, information science, systems engineering, human and digital communication studies, and global education in engineering. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Ibaraki University, a Master of Arts in TESOL from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a Master of Science in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, and a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from Wakayama University. Previously, she served as an adjunct research instructor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and as a visiting researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. In 2021, she joined DHU Graduate School after spending 13 years as a Professor at Shibaura Institute of Technology. Her research has been published in journals such as Ecological Modelling, Deep-Sea Research, IEEE, KES, Japan Society for Artificial Intelligence, Japanese Society for Information and Systems in Education, among others. Her current research and projects focus on communication studies utilizing UI, VR, brain function measurement, and simulation. She is also actively involved in global talent development and corporate DX projects. Furthermore, she has contributed to academic societies as an editor and officer, including IEEE Professional Communication and the Japan Leadership Society.

VR Materials for Communication Education and Evaluation Methods

Abstract: Recent advancements in head-mounted displays and graphics technology have led to the possibility of immersive pseudo-experiences in Virtual Reality (VR) environments. In communication education, where the effects of experiential learning are considered significant, there is growing interest in experiences within VR spaces. Replicating communication scenarios experientially is challenging with traditional video materials or classroom exercises. Particularly in foreign language communication education, VR materials are anticipated to be effective in providing simulated experiences as substitutes for overseas experiences. Additionally, there is ample research indicating that VR training can effectively reduce anxiety and tension in communication. However, various factors are slowing down the introduction of VR materials into communication education settings. Challenges include development and implementation costs, resistance to new equipment, and the difficulty of aligning educational curricula with VR content development. Furthermore, there is a lack of sufficient validation of the educational effectiveness of VR materials, and their utility has not been conclusively demonstrated. In her talk, the speaker will introduce her project of VR educational material development and methods for assessing the effectiveness of VR materials developed for English communication education. The VR materials that speaker’s research group is developing are designed to target specific communication goals and scenarios, such as academic presentations in English and English-language customer service in hotel settings. The talk will also discuss research findings, including perspectives on global communication, competency evaluation, and neuroscientific approaches, to validate the educational effects of the materials. Additionally, her talk will explore strategies for leveraging the advantages of technology in communication education based on these research findings.

Prof. Thomas Kang
Seoul National University, South Korea

Dr. Kang is a Professor in the Department of Architecture & Architectural Engineering and Director for Engineering Education Innovation Center at Seoul National University, Korea. Prior to that, he was an Assistant Professor in the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA. He has held various affiliated positions in the U.S. and Japan, including Adjunct Professor at the University of Oklahoma, Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Lecturer at UCLA, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the University of Tokyo. Prof. Kang received his PhD from UCLA, his MS from Michigan State University, and his BS from Seoul National University.

Prof. Kang is a Fellow of Post-Tensioning Institute (PTI) and a Fellow of American Concrete Institute (ACI). Prof. Kang received the Kenneth B. Bondy Award for Most Meritorious Technical Paper as Lead Author from PTI in 2012, and the Wason Medal for Most Meritorious Paper as Lead Author from ACI in 2009 with the subject of post-tensioned concrete. He regularly teaches the course of Post-Tensioned Concrete Structures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign every other summer (both on campus and online) and at the University of Hawaii at Manoa every fall (live online lectures). Prof. Kang is an Editor-in-Chief for three journals: International Journal of Concrete Structures and Materials, Journal of Structural Integrity and Maintenance, and Advances in Computational Design; and Associate Editor for PTI Journal of Post-Tensioning Institute. He is one of the founding and voting members of PTI DC-20 Committee, Building Design, and has been a voting member for ACI Committee 369, Seismic Repair and Rehabilitation; Joint ACI-ASCE Committees 335, Composite and Hybrid Structures, 352 Joints and Connections in Monolithic Concrete Structures, and Joint ACI-ASCE Committee 423, Prestressed Concrete; and Joint ACI-ASME Committee 359, Concrete Containments for Nuclear Reactors, as well as various committees in Korea.

Prof. Kang published more than a hundred international journal papers and more than a hundred international conference proceedings, including 40 in ACI Structural Journal and 10 in PTI Journal. He has chaired many sessions/symposiums of structural engineering; delivered many keynote/invited speeches; and organized international conferences/workshops as a Chair. Additionally, Dr. Kang has done a lot of practice as a consulting engineer in Korea and the U.S. Prior to joining the academia, he had a working experience in California, USA (e.g., John A. Martin & Associates), and was a licensed Professor Engineer (PE) in California.