From 14-19 March 2012, Kumamoto National College of Technology (KNCT) invited 40 Temasek Polytechnic (TP) staff and students from the School of Informatics & IT to Japan for the annual exchange programme which was started in 2008 between the two tertiary institutions. KNCT would host TP students in March, while TP would do the honours in October. The objectives of the trip were not only to enable students to acquire a deeper understanding of Japanese lifestyle and culture, but also to expose them to highly innovative technologies through visits to different Japanese IT companies and museums, thereby arousing their interest in contributing towards technology innovation.
This year, KNCT had prepared a “Technical Challenge Programme” for the 17 students and 23 from the School of Engineering. Teamed with their Japanese counterparts, the TP students were given hands-on experience with building a robot. By the end of 3 days, the robot had to be able to collect ping pong balls, move up a steep ramp and drop the ping pong balls into a basket. As it was a competition, the team with the most ping pong balls collected would win. The robot competition gave students on both sides the challenge of building a robot, working with and learning from each other. The winners of the competition therefore meant not only one that produced a technically competent machine, but also one that overcame the linguistic limitations of students who spoke mainly Japanese or Singlish!
By the end of the study trip, the TP students also got to visit a Kumamoto castle, the Minamata Disease Municipal Museum and the Environmental Education and Intelligence Center, had Takoyaki for lunch and enjoyed a Temaki Sushi party with their Japanese friends. All in all, it was quite an unforgettable time.