Frontier of
Embodiment Informatics:
ICT and Robotics

Top Global University Project: Waseda Goes Global - A Plan to Build a
Worldwide Academic Network that is Open, Dynamic and Diverse

Naoya IWAMOTO

Portrait Visiting period August 31, 2015 to January 14, 2016
Visiting university Northumbria University
Visiting country and region Newcastle, UK

Content of the study program

My program can be divided into three parts: presentation of previous research results, engagement in a new joint research project, and exchange with local students. First, I joined Pacific Graphics, which is an international congress held in Beijing in early October, to present the research results obtained from a previous study abroad trip. My first experience was a joint research program with Dr. Hubert Shum, a lecturer at the University of Northumbria. Before the congress, Dr. Shum and I had discussion to prepare the presentation documents. Next, as a new joint research project, I was engaged in the research and development of hair simulation. Although this topic differed from my initial plan, it was determined based on my conversations with Dr. Shum. For the exchange with local students, I registered at a society of a nearby university and I also actively communicated with other students who lived in the same dormitory.

Study results

As for the new joint research project during this program, I implemented some of the results and ideas from my previous experience with Dr. Shum. In my previous project, we calculated the results of hair simulations according to the movement of the head part and performed real-time simulations on the basis of this calculation result. We took turns reading the literature, implementing our method, and sharing solutions for the problems (new orientations of research). This current implementation project can be roughly divided into three tasks: (1) simulation, (2) extraction of guide hairs, and (3) skinning. During my stay, we completed steps (1) and (2). Because the previous research was supposed to be applied to rigid objects including head parts, this time we aimed to build a real-time hair simulation (far simulation) system that can be applied to flexible objects. Our findings from this study will be submitted to an international academic conference by the deadline of March 2016.

My experience abroad

During this stay in the UK, I experienced a variety of events, including my first winter, Christmas, and New Year’s, overseas. Although it was not very cold as it was a once-in-a-century mild winter in the UK, it rained continuously, reaching record precipitation. Additionally, the dormitory that I stayed in had a dining hall and common room for students to gather, which provided more opportunities to interact with other students.

I also had some unique experiences involving traditions around major holidays. I enjoyed my first turkey grilled at my friend’s house during the Christmas season. As people generally spend Christmas with their families in Europe, it was as quiet as the New Year’s holidays in Japan; trains were not running and many stores were closed. On the other hand, New Year’s Day was filled with vigor, including parades and fireworks. In addition, as the letter culture is still deeply rooted in the UK; I sent Christmas cards and post cards to my new local friends as well as to my family and friends in Japan. Thus, I had a lot of opportunities for cultural experiences.

Influence on my future career

During my stay, I had the chance to meet Prof. Taku Komura, Dr. Shum’s supervisor, who visited the campus. In addition, Dr. Shum gave me the opportunity to travel to the University of Edinburgh to visit Prof. Komura’s laboratory. While there, I talked not only about my current research, but also about my future plans. Thus, taking important steps toward starting joint research at the University of Edinburgh. In addition, the research project I worked on during this overseas program should contribute largely to my career as a researcher by being submitted to an academic conference by March.

My English skill improved immensely compared to my first experience. I had daily conversations, which bolstered my confidence regarding future activities abroad. Moreover, it was the first time that I presented my research in English. Finally, during my stay in the UK, I had the chance to visit a start-up company in London and network. I hope these opportunities will be a major step toward finding a job.

Other comments

Including my stay in 2014, I stayed in the UK for a total of one year, which has allowed me to observe life in the UK. I stayed in Newcastle, which is near the sea. Because it rained a lot, I longed for a drier climate like Los Angeles, USA. As for research, I chose this university so I could conduct joint research with Dr. Shum. However, most of the other students I met studied other fields, which was not very inspirational on the research front. If I have another occasion to stay abroad for a long time, I hope to study at a world-class university and find myself in an environment where I can find inspiration for future research.