My Study in New Zealand

Takahiro Ishikawa
Year: 2nd year of PhD candidate / RA2015
Belonging: Graduate School of Science and Technology
Destination: Faculty of Engineering, University of Auckland
Duration: Sep., 2018 to Feb., 2019 (Six months)

1.First major research field

I am currently developing a sensing system for simultaneously acquiring foot conditions (position, speed, and angle) and environmental information (stair height, slope inclination, etc.) for application in assisting devices for human lower limbs. I am attaching multiple inertial measurement units (an acceleration sensor and a gyroscope) and distance sensors to both feet and constructing an algorithm to estimate foot conditions and environmental information from differences in the obtained information.

2.Reason for choosing study destination

The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s top university. Several years ago, successful professors from various universities in New Zealand were gathered there in accordance with a national policy. I chose it for my current overseas study because I felt it offers an outstanding research environment. It has superior equipment in its facilities, provides abundant support by technicians who are very close to each laboratory, and has a university-launched venture company that use inertial measurement units and motion capture technologies that are close to my own field of research. Another reason I chose it is that, although there are students from various countries there, relatively few of them come from Japan.

3.Achievements and difficulties experienced through international study

Research: My own research space is in the General Lab. It is a large research space that is used jointly by students with different instructing professors. An advantage of this research style is that it is easy to learn about others’ research. However, I felt it has a disadvantage in that there is little sense of unity as a research team when each individual has a different research theme. No one in the research space has a theme similar to my own. That plus my anxiety speaking in English resulted in my spending a lot of time working silently on my own soon after arriving in New Zealand. However, I have gradually become accustomed to doing research in an English-only environment, and I feel I am spending meaningful time here.
Daily life: One day, when I returned home from an academic meeting, I encountered a dangerous situation. When I turned on a light, the light started blinking. And then when I touched the light’s plug in the outlet, sparks flew out. In the end, the lightbulbs, microwave oven, recharger of my computer, and other devices were damaged, and I spent a few days being unable to use electronic devices properly. I talked to the real estate agent and the problem was resolved in about a week. However, the experience led me to truly appreciate Japan’s stable electrical system. (To tell the truth, the light bulbs are still broken even though the problem is supposed to be “fixed.” That makes me skeptical that the problem really was resolved.)

Fig1: The Faculty of Engineering’s building
Fig2: The building housing the research space (HSB)
Fig3: The research space
Fig4: A weekend visit to Muriwai (about 40 minutes by car from Auckland)
Fig5: People who are waiting for the Santa Parade on the queen street of Auckland
Fig6: The ASB Tennis Centre exterior, where the ATP World Tour 250 series is played