Kozo Saito completed all his degrees (B.S. 1975, MS 1977, Ph.D. 1980) at Seikei University, Japan. That same year he came to the University of California at San Diego to conduct post graduate study. In 1981, he moved to Princeton University as Research Associate to conduct experimental combustion research, and later promoted to Prof. Research Staff there.
In 1986, he left Princeton to become Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kentucky (UK); he was promoted to Professor in 1993, and became The Tennessee Valley Authority (Endowed) Professor in Mechanical Engineering in 2001. Since then he remains that titled Professor position.
Saito directs the Institute of Research for Technology Development (IR4TD), which houses two programs: Lean Systems and R&D, both initiated by the sponsorship from Toyota in 1994. The current IR4TD is sponsored by major companies including Toyota Group, Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal, Nissan, Admatechs, Asahi Sunac, Cradle, YH America, and more.
Saito is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, chair of the International Scale Modeling Committee, and a former committee member of the National Research Council. He holds visiting lectureship with Nippon Steel Corp, University of Tokyo, had IPA assignment at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and was a joint research collaborator with NASA and USDA Forest Service.
He has extensively published his research results in the areas of combustion, fire research, lean manufacturing (Toyota Production System), surface coating and inspection, scale modeling, nano-technology, and engineering philosophy. Saito is the holder of total of twelve international patents.