We interviewed Mr. Mohsin Munir, who stayed at the Ricoh Institute of Technology for four months as an R&D intern from a university in Germany. Let’s see what he did in a project, and what he achieved during the internship.
The Ricoh internship was directly linked to both my specialization area and had strong bonds with my university. I wanted to get practical knowledge of machine learning and image processing techniques which I have studied in my academic course at the university by implementing those techniques in an industrial environment. Fortunately, Ricoh internship program was offering me all that, so I availed myself of this opportunity by applying for this program.
I worked on eye tracking and gaze estimation system. I designed a system (with the help of my supervisor and other department members) which is able to track human eyes and estimate where a user is looking at the screen. I did number of experiments using different approaches to get better results. Eye tracking and gaze estimation has many applications in cognitive science, medical field, fatigue detection, virtual reality and in many other fields. A more specific example from computer usability field could be a system which observes human gaze behavior for a certain given task.
Ricoh is a very good place to work and I had a great experience here.
The best part was that I was always welcomed to come up with my own ideas. Sometimes my supervisor might know that a particular idea won’t work out in the end, but he never stopped me for pursuing that idea because on the same time he wanted me to learn how to handle a failure. We never know with certainty if a new idea will work or not unless we give it a try, and that is what I learned here. I was not bound to merely follow the tasks given by my supervisor. During the course of my internship, we (me and my supervisor) discussed and drafted the work plan together.
The Ricoh people are very nice, caring, encouraging and supportive.
For me, the main point of internship was to get the practical knowledge of image processing and machine learning techniques. I had the theoretical knowledge of such techniques but I didn’t know how to use them in real life problems. During my internship, I got the practical knowledge of different techniques by comparing them with each other and got to know which one is better in which circumstances.
I also learned how to divide a big, difficult research problem into small manageable parts. Before my internship, sometimes it was hard for me to deal with a big problem. But now, it is not the case anymore; such problems are rather easy to do in small parts. The process of dividing a big problem into small parts, solving them individually and combining the solutions again is an approach with which steady solution can be obtained for the original problem.
Furthermore, it was a good opportunity for me to learn the research project processes and lifecycle in an organizational environment. I had previous research experience, in which I explored academic aspect of research. This was my first time to be in a research project being undertaken in an industrial environment. It was good to learn how the lifecycle proceeds for research projects in such an environment.
As a final item, I want to add one thing. After working here, I got better understanding of how to do systematic research. Here, the scope was large, and I was asked to do certain things in that large framework. I had the opportunity and freedom to play a role in that large framework, where I learned a lot of things.
For me, my supervisor at Ricoh was like a teacher, and Ricoh was more like an institute. I learned how to do different things in a better way, and the lessons I learned here were not just related to one project, but a broad overview of research. I can use the research knowledge which I got here for the rest of my life.
On weekends, I used to go out with my Japanese friends to visit places like Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Tokyo, Yokohama, Enoshima and Kamakura. Sightseeing was also a learning process for me to learn about Japanese culture and the people, how they do things differently. It was very interesting.
There are a lot of things I like about Japan.
First are the Japanese people. I was much impressed with their simplicity and civic sense.
Second is the spring time—cherry blossoms in Japan. It is so beautiful that it is hard to explain in words. I haven’t seen such beauty anywhere else. I went to Ueno Park and the area surrounding the Imperial Palace (Chidorigafuchi), where I enjoyed cherry blossoms both at day and night time, lit up in the dark.
Third, I was greatly attracted by Japanese electronics and cars. I went to different electronics stores to check electronic appliances, and sometimes relaxed on a massage chair!