Rinzaburo Shida, Pioneering Japanese Electrical Engineer

Rinzaburo Shida (1855-1892) was one of the first four Japanese students, sponsored by the Japanese Government in 1880, to attend the University of Glasgow.  Shida studied professors William Ayrton and Henry Dyer at the Imperial College of Engineering (the University of Tokyo) and became the first graduate  to be sent to work with Sir William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin) on electromagnetism and telegraphy. Ayrton and Dyer were also former students of Lord Kelvin.

Shida matriculated in session 1880-1881, aged 24, and attended classes in Mathematics and in Natural Philosophy (Physics). He excelled as a student, gaining second place in the senior mathematics class, first place in the first year Natural Philosophy class, first place in higher mathematical class, and winning the Cleland Gold medal for the best experimental investigation of magnetic susceptibility.

On his return to Japan in 1883 he was appointed to Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Imperial College of Engineering (the position formerly held by Ayrton), the first Japanese to teach in the telegraphy department.  Shida led the development of radio technology in Japan: The first transmission experiments, conducted in 1886, were due to Shida and used the conduction method across the River Sumida in Tokyo by immersing electrodes in the water. Shida founded the Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan in 1888, and was given the title of Doctor of Engineering. He died of tuberculosis in1892 at the relatively young age of 37.


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