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My life & study in Hokkaido, JICA Innovative Asia Program


Siti Hidayatul Aqmar Zakaria
Faculty of Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, Hokkaido University
Innovative Asia JFY2017 #Batch-1 PHD Program/博士課程

I am a PHD graduate and will start working as an Associate Consultant at a consulting firm in Tokyo this coming June, 2021. In early of 2017, I tried my luck to apply to Hokkaido University with JICA Innovative Asia Program scholarship. After a tight competitive selection, I was among three applicants from Asian countries that had been accepted to join PHD program at Faculty of Engineering at Hokkaido University with JICA scholarship during that year. I registered as PHD student at Hokkaido University in October 2017 and it was my first time to be in Japan and Hokkaido island which is known as a winter wonderland. When I refresh my experience at Hokkaido, I have a vivid mental picture of my first brutal cold winter. Hokkaido gets tons of snow every winter with sub-zero temperature oftentimes. During my first winter in Hokkaido I would spend most of my times indoors, enjoyed snowy scenery while drinking hot coffee or tea.

Research life

My PHD topic was on application of metal 3D printing and coating technology within prosthesis scope mainly bone implant. In early 2018, I was granted Nitobe College (a special education program at Hokkaido University) scholarship and with the money I initiated a collaboration between my laboratory in Hokkaido University with University Malaya’s Centre of Advanced Manufacturing & Material Processing. I worked with metal 3D printing known as Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and plasma electrolytic oxidation (PEO) under supervision of Prof. Masahiro Todoh and Prof. Hamdi Shukor. By combining SLM and PEO, I developed a small prototype of porous titanium coated with hydroxyapatite, bioactive natural compound that can be found in our bone. The goal is to enhance bone ingrowth around bone implant and eventually reduce the risk of implant failure. The prototype was developed in Malaysia and the sample analysis was conducted in Hokkaido University since Japan has advanced analysis instruments. It was a great opportunity to receive trainings on operating some advanced analysis instruments along with another three Japanese lab members. I presented my research at four international conferences in South Korea and Taiwan and one domestic conferences throughout my PHD journey. I met experts and peers in my field from around the globe and learnt about others research project. I had published a scientific article as my contribution to science for the time being. I still have plenty to learn and to discover on ways to bring impact to society through science and technology.

Life outside laboratory


I was a teaching assistant at Nitobe College for almost two years. At Nitobe College, I enhanced my essential skills, unleashed my potentials, worked and taught people from diverse research and cultural backgrounds. It was a valuable experience which was especially useful when I did my internship at a consulting firm for 3 months. Living abroad in different society to my home country, it is essential to learn and understand some basic culture of that society, thus it would be easier to adapt engage with local residents. I joined some cultural activities organized by university and JICA Hokkaido, for instance, tea ceremony lesson and Fureai Hiroba. Fureai Hiroba is an event organized by JICA Hokkaido where foreigners prepared their home country foods and performance to demonstrate it to the local residents in Sapporo, Hokkaido. Apart from that, I explored a few parts of Hokkaido with some friends of mine. Hokkaido is rich in magnificent and untouched nature which I always enjoyed. The island has the beauty presents itself in an unexpected form during each season. My favorite season is summer because I could do outdoor activities as much as I wanted with cool and pleasant temperature.

Future plan

I made the decision to pursue a career in industry for the next five years to experience technology commercialization to the marketplace. I believe with both experiences in research and industry, I could bring an impact to science and society to bridge the gap between industry and academia in the future. Last but not least, I would like to express my most sincere gratitude and appreciation to JICA Japan and JICA Malaysia for the scholarship and a wonderful opportunity during my 3 years and 6 months as JICA Innovative Asia Program’s participant.

Aqmar Zakaria

Shinagawa, Tokyo, 23rd of April 2021