Summer Internship experience in Japan

Thu, Oct 1, 2015

Internship Experience

This summer I had the pleasure of doing my summer internship at Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan. The internship program was offered under the flagship of Sakura Science Program sponsored by Japan Science and Technology Agency. Every year Japanese Govt. invites 50 students from Asia for internship in various universities. The idea is to promote higher education and Japanese culture among other countries.

Kyushu Institute of Technology lies in Fukuoka prefecture in Japan. The nearest airport is in Fukuoka City. The distance between the airport and the institute is about 65km. The Kyushu Institute of Technology campus located in Hibikinokita is specialized in robotics technology. I did my internship in Wagatsuma Laboratory of the institute under Prof. Hiroaki Wagatsuma. They are working in the field of artificial intelligence so that they can develop robots which can actually take intelligent decisions.

My first day at the institute was very hectic. But I didn’t know that my next few days were going to be even more hectic. The official working hours are from 10 AM to 6 PM. But the kind of work culture which I saw in the institute was very surprising. People in the institute used to work from 10 AM to 12 midnight. The interesting thing which I found is that they do not enforce these long working hours on to students or faculty. But they have created a work culture where people feel ashamed if they leave from work early. So when the new people (including me) join the institute, they themselves follow the same work culture.

In the first half of my first day, I was introduced about the Kyutech campus, various laboratories in the institute and the kind of work going on in these laboratories. I was also introduced about the objectives of my internship. Then in the 2nd half of the day I was introduced with basics of CAD and hence feeding the design code into the machine, I printed some samples using the 3D printer. The idea was to learn some basic concepts which can further be used to work in live industry projects.

Being a computer engineer and a management student, this was a bit unusual and difficult for me. I had to work in two projects. The first project was to create a multi legged robot. The movement of motor was to be used to drive the parts of robot and make its legs move like a human. The second project was to make a security application for NAO (a humanoid robot). Since I am a management student, they also included process management and quality control as a part of my project which would be relevant for my career.

The first project was about a multi legged robot having 8 legs. It also had a motor which was to be run by a battery. The mechanism was to convert the rotation of motor to drive the legs of robot so that it walks like a human. The work was divided into three teams. The objective of the first team was to give dimensions of various components required for the robot. These dimensions were calculated using the theories of mechanics. The objective of second team was to design components in CAD using the dimensions prescribed by Team 1. The CAD design was used to print the components using a 3D printer. The objective of Team 3 was to assemble the components printed by Team 2 into the actual robot. I was part of all these three teams where my work was technical. But as part of process management, I had to coordinate between these three teams for efficient utilization of time. As a part of quality control, my job was also to ensure that the final components printed by Team 2 are of good quality for efficient assembly of components by Team 3.

The second project was to develop a security application for NAO (Humanoid Robot). This application would help NAO to remember and recognize the familiar faces. The robot was to be kept in a corner in the laboratory. Using movement and sound tracker, the robot tries to detect a face. If the robot finds a familiar face, it greets the person. But if an unfamiliar person enters the laboratory when no other familiar person is present, the robot shouts “Security Breach” continuously. The application was built using some inbuilt functions and coding using C++.

My daily schedule was to work on both of these projects. I also had two hours of class sessions daily. These classes helped me in learning the theoretical concepts in robotics and artificial intelligence. These concepts were highly used in both of the projects.

On weekends, as a part of program to know about Japanese culture, I visited many temples and museums with my professor. The visit to historical city of Hiroshima was just great. The experience of eating at Indian restaurants was just amazing (though the food was very expensive). I also had the pleasure of doing journey in bullet trains (I hope we too get bullet trains in India pretty soon). And the adventures of Mt. Fuzi and scuba diving just amplified the great fun I had in Japan. I also experienced a typhoon day when winds blew at 150km/hr (Ever since I entered in Japan, everybody was just saying that typhoon is coming which gave me the impression that “Winter is Coming” as in Game of thrones). The experience of getting lost in a humid bamboo forest without food, water and map for a whole day in search of the beach was also very adventurous. Overall, it was a fun internship. The training was rigorous but the historical and cultural things that I learnt the adventures I experienced and the friends I made (including a get together and the Cricket Tournament in Japan with Indian community) will always be remembered by me for a very long time.

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Gaurav Girdhar

MBA 2014-16

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