Rinzaburo Shida

Biography of Rinzaburo Shida

Rinzaburo Shida, Manga Comic
Rinzaburo Shida, Manga Comic

Rinzaburo Shida (1855-1892) was one of the first four Japanese students to attend the University of Glasgow in 1880. He was part of an academic study abroad programme sponsored by the Japanese Meiji Government as part of their national strategy to import Western applied science and technology. Shida was the first graduate of the Imperial College of Engineering, Tokyo, to be sent to work with Sir William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) on electromagnetism and telegraphy. This educational move was influenced by his former professors William Ayrton and Henry Dyer, both former students of Lord Kelvin.

He matriculated in session 1880-1881, aged 24, giving as his birthplace Nagasaki. He 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 in 1892 at the relatively young age of 37.


Rinzaburo Shida
Doctor of Engineering

Born 25 December 1855, Taku, Japan.
Died 4 January 1892.
University Link: Alumnus, Student
GU Degree: Science and Engineering, 1880-1881;
Occupation categories: engineers, electrical
Record last updated: 16th Mar 2015

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  • Student

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