Content of the study program
I conducted research using a simulator of the two-armed robot, “Baxter,” to learn and implement the task of striking a drum, via deep learning. The simulator that I used was developed by members of my destination laboratory, and I improved it so that it could strike the drum well. After the training data for learning, obtained via this simulator, was processed to make it easier to use (normalized, noise added, etc.), I studied it with a model, in which a type of deep learning called MTRNN (Multi Time-scale Recurrent Neural Network) was uniquely modified for use in collaborative study into two-armed robotics. I compared the performance with that of previous learning models, in an experiment where we would see how well the robot could strike the drum to produce a sound as close as possible to an original sound it had listened to.
There are public outcomes and personal outcomes. First of all, with the public outcomes, because this is the first actual exchange in the field of robotics in the partnership between University of Birmingham and Waseda University, they were able to play a big role in further expanding the relations between the two schools. Also, my project that I was engaged in at my destination university is ongoing as joint research even now that I have returned home, and I plan to submit a paper to top conferences like IROS. My personal outcomes are interpersonal communication skills in English, and self-confidence that I am able to perform research abroad. In particular, I feel that I have achieved many secondary results, such as becoming able to deal in a proactive way with people from overseas, who would visit our laboratory.
My experience abroad
Because I was staying in a dormitory where there were only students from overseas, called Wesley International Student Homes, I was surrounded by people with fairly diverse backgrounds and I was able to spend my time interacting with different cultures. Since eating out is expensive in the U.K., on weekdays, I basically cooked for myself, and ate it the next day, as a lunch that I made up in a Tupperware container. At the weekends, I went on trips to cities around the country, including London, Edinburgh and Oxford. The prices of long-distance trains in the U.K. are high and subject to change, so it was somewhat troublesome to have to establish plans for my trips in an organized manner. I was basically going back and forth between my dormitory and laboratory on most days and this felt boring, so at the weekends, I participated in a community event called Japanese Culture Society, which allowed me to interact as well, with local people other than students. For Christmas in the U.K., decorations go up in October and are not removed even when January rolls around, which gives a sense of how much they love Christmas, and I found that very interesting.
Influence on my future career
This experience strengthened my feeling that I want to work abroad, so I am currently job hunting, with a view to working overseas in the future. In particular, I gained a considerable amount of confidence from the fact that when I asked the local Brits, “Tell me honestly: with my English skills, will I be able to get a job in a company in the U.K.?” they clearly responded that it would be no problem. What’s more, because of my professional attributes, the hurdles to working overseas were already low, and this made me even more conscious of finding employment abroad. The influence on my future career was huge, in a positive sense of course.
I feel that I would not have studied abroad were it not for the SGU system. Of course, there is the financial support, but I was also able to have this valuable experience thanks to the blessing of multifaceted support from SGU, including the fact that Ms. Ikeda alleviated my worries about clerical work, VISA issues and life at my destination. The opportunity to be able to objectively view the environment in which one is placed, on a country level, is something that is rarely obtained. Going forward, I hope that many more students experience studying abroad, and it would be great if SGU would continue to function as a mother body that would grant this request.