Content of the study program
My research aimed to create a neural network to generate the most viable approach to position a robotic arm for the target object by obtaining information from a camera mounted on the robot. When there are multiple viable approaches for the target object, I tried to generate the most suitable course by analyzing past arm movements in different contexts obtained from camera images. In this study abroad program, I participated in preparation experiments for robotics, which did not involve actual robots, but rather obtaining electromyography from a human arm, and visual data from eyeball movements using an eye tracker. Using the obtained sample data, I created and implemented learning of a neural network.
Because this was my first time using an EMG muscle sensor and an eye tracker, it took more time than expected to set up the environment. Nevertheless, I obtained enough data for machine learning. Since learning of neural networks is still insufficient, I plan to continue my research to improve the results. The next step is to obtain data in the robotic environment at a university, and further develop my research. One advantage of this overseas study program was interacting with many students and faculty members at the Technical University of Munich. I improved my language ability through meetings and presentations. The Cybathlon, which is an international competition of people with physical disabilities using prosthetics or wheelchairs utilizing the latest technologies, is planned for 2020. CyberTUM, which is a team from Technical University of Munich, is planning to enter in two events. While working on my research, I also participated as a team member to develop technologies for the competition. I also attended a few meetings, and it was very meaningful and delightful to listen to and discuss technologies developed by others.
My experience abroad
Since this was my first time in Europe, I was anxious to stay on my own. Due to the help from many people and actively communicating with locals, I gained confidence and embraced my three months of studying abroad. At the Technical University of Munich, people of variety of nationalities conversed in English to work on research cooperatively. In this environment, I sincerely felt the wonderful realization of “being able to speak English allows me to communicate with many people around the world”, and it further motivated me to study English. Germany has a very different history and lifestyle from Japan. Not only did I gain a deeper understanding of diverse cultures, but also rediscovered Japanese culture, which I didn’t notice in my daily life before. I was able to find my own strengths and shortcomings as well. As such, the overseas experience not only provided new knowledge and broadened my perspective, but also gave me a new insight. I found the experience to be invaluable. Going to the Christmas market with doctoral students who helped me in my research and celebrating Christmas with the host of Airbnb, who looked after me during my stay, became very special memories.
Influence on my future career
During this three-month stay, talking and working with diverse colleagues were stimulating and helped broaden my perspective. While I realized that using English to work overseas is attractive and possible, I also felt my current inabilities to take full responsibility of my work in some situations. Originally, I planned to work in Japan, and never thought of using English in daily basis for tasks and at the workplace. However, due to my experience, I plan to actively seek overseas opportunities in the future and take a chance if such an opportunity arises in the long term as I believe this may not happen in the short term. I will keep studying English. As you can see, the SGU study-abroad program gave me the opportunity to improve my English skills and inspired me to become globally active.
The financial and administrative support provided by SGU reduced the hurdle to participate in a study-abroad program. This allowed me to focus on my research and life in a foreign country. Ms. Ikeda’s support, from handling the administrative procedures to helping me find a place to stay, was invaluable and is directly responsible for my fruitful experience while studying abroad. I very much appreciate the opportunity.