by IDJ ’23 Organizers Ayako Yukawa, Kentaro Numa, Koji Takahashi, Kosuke Nakajima, Naofumi Aoshima, Yosuke Fujii, and Yutaro Watanabe
Overview of IDJ ’23
Innovation Discovery Japan (IDJ) is a tech trek to Japan during which MIT students and researchers visit technology-oriented companies and research institutes. IDJ was established in 2017 by Japanese students at MIT who hoped to build networks between MIT and Japan by exposing MIT students and faculty to Japanese technologies, businesses, and cultures. The seventh trek, IDJ ’23, took place from January 29 to February 4, 2023, and was the first in-person trek since 2020.
Participants in this year’s trek came from diverse fields and programs within MIT, allowing them to learn from each other as well as from the companies. A group of System Design and Management students organized the company tours. The participants’ demographics are below.
“It was enriching to see the office responsible for creating the teamLab planet that I had the opportunity to experience the previous day. I was personally intrigued by the two core philosophies of identifying boundaries as linguistic constructs and breaking them as well as developing positive relationships between people. The exhibits themselves have a way of pushing strangers to interact with each other in an intimate setting. The egalitarian company culture of working in constant collaboration, and spontaneously as a family, and sharing rewards equally inspired me to be in such a positive work environment. It was also helpful to learn about the founders and how their different interests and strengths managed to result in such a unique symbiosis of art and technology. The founders are still very involved in each stage of the process of ongoing projects, which speaks to how deeply they care about the company’s mission. Despite being a very digital and technologically oriented company, the philosophy ensures that the purpose of their work remains grounded and oriented toward the improvement of human experiences rather than pure profit. Overall, I had a very positive experience at teamLab and appreciate their way of working and design philosophies.” – Arusha Nirvan, Architecture
“I believe this session from NTT was precisely what I was looking for from a company visit. Speaking with other students, they agreed that this overview from NTT struck the perfect balance of perspectives from all angles of business and culture. An engaging spectrum of information was presented to us, ranging from the company’s high-level strategy, a lively discussion about the business growth strategy, and even a highly technical discussion about optical fiber communications research. And finally, we were given the opportunity to engage in hands-on exploration of the NTT business assets. This tour of the underground cable network that powers the city’s communications above drove home the point for me. Conceptually we all knew that NTT was a big company, but the tour opened my eyes to what the infrastructure requirements are to run a communications network of this magnitude.” – Warren Anderson, System Design and Management
“Overall, I found the visit to ispace to be a very unique experience. Not only did we stand at the same place where the HAKUTO-R missions are controlled, but we also got to learn about the inner workings of the team directly from the operations engineer, which was very powerful and inspiring. Judging by the composition of the team, the investors, and the culture of the company, I wouldn’t be surprised if ispace one day becomes very successful and a key player in the future of lunar exploration. One interesting aspect of the company was its diversity; we learned that the flight control team of about 20 people was composed of people from 9 different countries who have worked at different organizations, such as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the European Space Agency; it was very inspiring to see people coming from all these backgrounds, united by the same vision, and pushing forward the future of space exploration. One thing I take away from this company visit is that there is no dream that is too ambitious, as long as you have the right people on board everything is possible. I look forward to watching the landing of the Hakuto-R Mission 2 lander and celebrating its success.” – David Villegas, System Design and Management
“As a software engineer with game industry knowledge, experience, and an overall focus on game development, this session was incredibly gratifying, while also being incredibly informative on AAA game development practices and utilities. Capcom is a developer I had kept track of ever since I had begun to play games and eventually work on my own, self-researching their over-40 year history of arcade hits, cartridge-era classics, and experimental breakthroughs. At our session, the enthusiasm was evident, in regards to having us there and having the opportunity to demonstrate the recent advances in their development pipeline. More important to me than the state-of-the-art technology and concise development pipeline, I saw employees who were extremely talented and motivated; their efforts were seen as not just making our experience unforgettable, but also the chance to show what they are really proud of. I really do appreciate that aspect of Capcom: how satisfied and proud their employees visually appear, and the fact that they are given this moment with us to express themselves and their work in unique ways. It was also fantastic to have a hands-on approach with their work, whether through their virtual reality demo or by interacting with their in-house engine. I had a delightful time trying to go beyond their demonstrative path and try to see similarities between it and the game engines I have used/use frequently. Overall, I have such a huge amount of respect for Capcom even more so than when I was excitedly anticipating to see their offices in the first place.” – Emmanuel Mallea, MIT Lincoln Laboratory