【SERIES】 Experiences in Silicon Valley Internship Program 2019

October 24, 2019

Vol.2  Shihomi Hashimoto(B2)

The University of Aizu provides an internship opportunity for students visiting Silicon Valley and learning about the world's cutting edge technologies by communicating with local engineers.

These series introduces how the students feel and what they have gained in the 2019 internship program through interviews.

Miss Hashimoto is a 2nd year undergraduate student of the University of Aizu. She is a student assistant (SA) of Aizu Geek Dojo and is actively working on product development.
She had been living in Thailand for 9 years in junior and senior high school, so she is used to living overseas. This was her first trip to the U.S.

She is at the bottom center of this photo.

Q.What did you experience in Silicon Valley?

I created 2 new prototypes in Silicon Valley, apart from the one I developed during the pre-training.
We had to show products to the local company on the second day after our arrival. Therefore, we made teams and started to develop in a hurry.
In accordance with theme "product for children", I developed a device that recognizes animals made by LEGO blocks.
I gave presentations in English at the local companies and Hacker Dojo, which give me opportunities to exchange ideas with local engineers.
"This tool can be used in other way like this.", "If you want it to act in that way, you can use this programming method.", "I know someone who is working on the project same as yours, you had better to read this article.", engineers advised me.
It was a valuable experience for me that we made a lot of conversation on my product.

IMG_2074.JPG IMG_1925.JPG
Development with teammate/Presentation

Later, I developed another device with the same teammate.
Inspired by finger play game familiar to Japanese children, we developed a toy that uses sensors to count and judge for winning and losing.

Q.What was the most interesting thing?

We have opportunities to communicate with various people in English through developing and living in Silicon Valley.
I tried to communicate with local people without any specialized training in English conversation beforehand. Conversely, the situation motivated me to try my best to overcome language barriers.
I enjoyed using my full vocabulary to explain my opinion exactly.
Occasionally, my teammates, international students, helped me. But in most situations, I talked to local engineers with enthusiasm and they responded in the same way. I've learned to communicate with first meeting person in English through this experience.

And it was a valuable opportunity to hear about experiences from engineers working at global technology companies represented by Microsoft and Google.
I was aware that they had clear purpose on what to make and how to change the world, also, I felt they truly like their own jobs.
When I make something, I feel that something is wrong that many people emphasize the method.
Those who I met in Silicon Valley, instead, set a goal firstly and then try any way to reach the goal. I feel exactly the same.

3rd from the left side in second row.

Q.Did you feel difficult in the internship?

I had jet lag for the first week. Other than that, there is only happy and fulfilling memories!

Q. Did you have a change of mine after the internship?

My line of thinking to the future has been changed dramatically.
Before I went to Silicon Valley, my goal was to make people live better by using biological signal processing technologies.
However, in Silicon Valley, I was pleasure to find users enjoying using my products. I realized that I like to make toys. Actually, I have developed some toys, but I didn't even think about it would lead to my future.
Through this development and presentation opportunity, my past work and my current thought were linked. That makes my goal clear.

A device recognizes animals made by LEGO blocks, developed by Miss Hashimoto and her teammate.

Q.How will you connect these experiences to the future?

I am planning to summarize my experiences and share them to others. I'm going to participate in the hardware contest in Japan and report the results in the university.
In addition, I will put effort into activities of development.
I'm wondering if I can add the smart house function to the Aizu Geek Dojo where I am working as an assistant.
In order to make my goal come true, I am planning to polish my ideas.

Participants of the Silicon Valley Internship Program 2019 submitted their internship achievements for the GUGEN 2019, Japan's largest hardware contest. Please look forward to their future activities and successes!