Japanese Language Training
Eleven hours were dedicated to intensive Japanese study. The participants were divided into classes by the level of their existing Japanese language ability. They learned Japanese "survival" language of a kind useful in their daily lives and lab activities. Many fellows commented that the exercise was "difficult but a good and interesting challenge," some saying that it gave them the incentive to continue studying Japanese after the program ends.
This was the first time for the Summer Program to include a poster session. The participants prepared their posters before coming to Japan. The session was meant to enhance the experience of each of the young researchers within the program, while facilitating an information exchange among them. Of the session, one of the participants commented, "I was interested to see what the others are working on, to talk with students from completely different disciplines, and to find out what brought us all to Japan."
On the weekend, the fellows stayed at Japanese homes, where they enjoyed speaking in Japanese and eating with their host family members. There were a variety of host families, ranging from retired couples to younger families with children. Most of their homes were located in the vicinity of Sokendai. Some of the fellows enjoyed sightseeing with their host families, going to such place as the money-washing shrine or the Great Buddha in Kamakura, and experiencing firsthand Japanese culture by wearing a kimono or joining in a tea ceremony. Each in his or her own way was well received and entertained by the host family.
Among the fellows' comments were the following: "Experiencing a 'typical' Japanese family and seeing real Japanese family culture, I learned a lot about Japanese family life and Japanese culture that are not obvious from guidebooks." "Even some language difficulties are no real barrier between open-minded people."
The centerpiece of the Summer Program was the fellows' internship at a host research institution, where they took part in research activities with frontline Japanese researchers in their respective fields. The following are some comments offered by fellows on their research experiences.
Mr. Joel Chestnutt, Mr. Mike Stilman, Mr. Philipp Michel
(PhD students, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University) at Digital Human Research Center (DHRC), National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
|Three fellows with Dr. Kagami and Dr. Nishiwaki
"In our research we try to formulate algorithms that allow humanoid robots to perceive the world as well as plan intelligent and useful activities such as walking and manipulation. At the DHRC, we had the unique opportunity to implement our algorithms on some of the most advanced humanoid robots in the world. More importantly, we were part of an incredible community of researchers whose guidance and friendship are invaluable. Our hosts, Dr. Satoshi Kagami and Dr. Koichi Nishiwaki, and the students in the lab created a supportive and fun work envi-ronment. In the future, we plan to continue the productive international teamwork started this summer. We hope that this collaboration will be enhanced by having had the unique opportunity to immerse ourselves in Japanese culture."
Mr. Robert Dorner
(PhD student, University College London) at The University of Tokyo
|Mr. Dorner with his host Assoc. Prof. Tatsuya Okubo
"Under the program, I investigated a type of zeotype, microporous material and its application as storage devise for hydrocarbons in exhaust fumes. The summer program has allowed me to learn new techniques in my area of work and use equipment that would not have been available at my home research institution. Hopefully, I will be able to stay in touch with the many nice people I have met in this program. The experience I gained in the lab at The University of Tokyo will be a good foundation for any future work I plan to undertake during and after my PhD course."