TechShop to Host Monozukuri Mechatro Dojo, a Workshop to Improve Next-Generation Engineers' Manufacturing Power

[The Power to Create the Future Vol. 4 (Part II)]

(Continued from the first part of the interview)

Engineers of Fujitsu Advanced Engineering (FAE) launched Monozukuri Mechatro Dojo in TechShop to develop young people's manufacturing capabilities. The first work in the project is the autonomous mobile robot ROBOKEN. Despite struggling with designing a robot for the first time and handling machine tools, a mock-up has been completed. What have they learned and what have they achieved through the project full of insights and stimuli, and encounters? Let's take a look at Part II of the interview with Tomomatsu, Yoshiwara, and Wakasugi.

Enjoying Lively Conversation with Craftsmen after Experiencing Struggles and the Joy of Manufacturing

Yoshiwara (center) talking about positive results of the project with Tomomatsu (left) and Wakasugi (right)

― After three months of trial and error, a mock-up of ROBOKEN was finally completed. How do you feel now?

Yoshiwara: Sometimes it was difficult, but I also had a lot of fun. It was my first experience to create something by using so many kinds of machine tools flexibly. When I showed off the completed mock-up in the company, people in other departments were interested and said, "This is interesting!" and "How did you make this?" I was very happy to see their reactions. While I was making things using my own hands, I gradually began to understand what craftsmen at outsourcing factories were thinking, and I got to a point where I could enjoy talking with them more than ever before. After all, there are things that we can understand only by using our own hands. Going forward, I think we can make better things while sharing ideas with craftsmen, taking advantage of what I learned here.

An Open Manufacturing Place for Bringing People Closer and Expanding Ideas

With TechShop staff members. "We learn various skills from knowledge-rich staff every day." (Yoshiwara)

Wakasugi: It was very refreshing working shoulder-to-shoulder with my senior colleagues, like Mr. Tomomatsu. I was surprised to know that an expert like him who knows everything can experience failure in actual practice. While working together, talking, "Oh this is useless (laugh)" or "Okay, then let's try another way," I felt the distance between us got closer.

Tomomatsu: It certainly was.

Wakasugi: Once we leave the office and come here, I find that we can communicate very openly with each other. This was a surprising effect.

Yoshiwara: As Wakasugi says, I feel that people can get closer to each other and expand ideas by sharing and showing experiences and skills of manufacturing with each other. TechShop serves as a hub that connects people to people and techniques and techniques.

Tomomatsu: I'm excited when I leave home in the morning to come to TechShop. How long has it been since I felt like this (laugh)? In the evening, people with the same aspirations gather here after work. People who don't even know each other's names or what companies they are from begin exchanging greetings and words after meeting a couple of times like "What are you doing?" or "I didn't think of doing it that way." There are many encounters that I have never experienced and things that I have not been aware of. It's so much fun and I feel like spending more time here than at the company (laugh), which, I think, gives me opportunities to quickly ascertain teaching skills and share information with my colleagues.

Find Your Own Strengths - Engineers Lacking Creativity Have No Future

Uniform work jackets with the original logo printed on the back, created using a large printer and a thermal transfer press machine at TechShop

― In Part I of the interview, Mr. Tomomatsu said that the theme of this project is to explore "what engineers should be." Is there anything you noticed about it?

Yoshiwara: I was thinking about the difference between craftsmen and engineers during this project, and thought that craftsmen are those who have their own skills that cannot be copied by others. Meanwhile, engineers are those who combine various techniques of craftsmen to create new value in society and make the world happy. For that, we need to be able to have high-level conversations with craftsmen, and we also need to have personal connections, knowledge, and ideas. I think we have to become engineers who have a wide and deep knowledge of manufacturing.

Wakasugi: I wish I could find more value in the "do-it-yourself" spirit. I would like to become an engineer who can proactively communicate new information, not just doing assigned routine work.

Tomomatsu: Once you have mastered the know-how of manufacturing, you are able to come up with various ideas by applying the skills you learned. In the meantime, I believe you can come up with fresh ideas for creating things you wish existed in the world, and you will be able to launch new projects from scratch. I think engineers lacking creativity cannot survive, so I really want members to discover their strengths through this project.

Manufacturing as a Challenge in Life

Discussing enthusiastically challenges and future prospects of Monozukuri Mechatro Dojo

― Lastly, please talk about future prospects and leave a message to those who want to make innovation happen.

Tomomatsu: I can't say big things, but what I want to tell my junior co-workers is don't give up and don't compromise as long as they continue manufacturing and launching products to the market. Of course, since we belong to an organization, we have to manufacture things within a given budget and process, and we all have private lives and work schedules at the company. However, by having an environment where we truly feel excited, we can work on manufacturing as a challenge in life, beyond the framework of work. I think that innovations are born from there. I will soon reach the mandatory retirement age, but I have not given up. I believe the real contest is just beginning.

Inheriting the Manufacturing Spirit and Creating Innovations with New Members

Wakasugi: I think that what Tomomatsu wants to convey the most through this project is the spirit and mindset underlying manufacturing, not transient knowledge or skills. We want to interpret what we have inherited here in our own way and pass them down to our junior colleagues. I'd like to continue evolving Monozukuri Mechatro Dojo while inviting new employees to this project from April. I'm looking forward to being inspired by many young people.

Yoshiwara: I think that if we manufacture together with people who have different ideas and skills, transcending the boundaries of company, department, generation, field, and nation, something new and interesting will come forth. So, I want to work with many people inside and outside the company. While cherishing its open atmosphere, I want to create innovations from Monozukuri Mechatro Dojo that make the world a much happier place.

Nobuyuki Tomomatsu, Technical Adviser
Advanced Technology Center, Digital Engineering Unit
Fujitsu Advanced Engineering Limited
Born in 1958, in Gunma Prefecture. After graduating from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Gunma College where he majored in thermodynamics and learned welding and machining technology, he joined Fujitsu Limited in 1979.
After being dispatched to Fuji Facom Corporation (current FAE), he has worked on the planning and mechanism design for terminals installed in special environments, such as production control terminals, aircraft terminals, and car terminals, in the Technology Division for many years.
After that, he worked as System Integration Manager of the Engineering Division of the company, and is currently working as Technical Advisor at the Advanced Technology Center to train next-generation young engineers.

Masato Yoshiwara, Innovation Promotion Office
Advanced Technology Center, Digital Engineering Unit
Fujitsu Advanced Engineering Limited
Born in 1988, in Ibaraki Prefecture. After graduating from Department of Electrical Engineering, College of Engineering, Shibaura Institute of Technology, he joined FAE in 2012.
As a hardware engineer, he was involved in a variety of system integration projects both in the private and public sectors. Then he engaged in hardware development, including special cameras using device-embedding technology and drones for specific operations.
He currently works on planning and developing robots for industrial and distribution sites in the Innovation Promotion Office of FAE.

Ryosuke Wakasugi, Innovation Promotion Office
Advanced Technology Center, Digital Engineering Unit
Fujitsu Advanced Engineering Limited
Born in 1988, in Kanagawa Prefecture. After graduating from the master's course of Mathematical Information Engineering, Graduate School of Industrial Technology, Nihon University, he joined FAE in 2013.
He worked as a hardware engineer in charge of a university class support system and agricultural monitoring system using sensor technology.
He currently works on planning and developing new businesses using AI and image recognition technology in the Innovation Promotion Office of FAE.