The Nagaoka summer camp, in official terms, the Nagaoka Summer School for Young Engineers (NASSYE) which took place from 19th to the 30th of August 2019 was truly a life changing experience for me.

NASSYE is an annual summer program organized by the Nagaoka University of Technology (NUT). NUT is a well-reputed public university, located in Nagaoka, Niigata in Japan. NASSYE in being held in every summer for foreign undergraduate university students, who are in their 3rd year. The sole purpose of this program is to introduce NUT to foreign students by offering the opportunity to participate in the research in laboratories and experience the culture of Japan.

How did I get there?

It all began one Tuesday morning in February 2019 when I was on my way to class at General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, Ratmalana, Sri Lanaka. I happen to stop in front of the notice board that had a poster which read “YOUR SUMMER. YOUR FUTURE.” Being the curious cat I was, I went on to Google more information and realized they were calling for applications in March.

Apply! Apply! Apply!!!

As a 3rd year undergraduate following Software Engineering, my lucky stars aligned as I was guided towards this opportunity by the Dean of Faculty of Computing, Head of Department of Computer Science, and my colleagues.

The application process, deadlines, and other important information of the NASSYE are being usually announced at https://www.nagaokaut.ac.jp/e/kokusai/summerprogram/nassye.html

Speaking from the personal experience, it is always recommended to reach out to the NUT officials, students who have participated earlier, or any other person to clear out any gray areas in advance. Because you might have plenty of time to get prepared with the relevant documents, deadlines, and other requirements, without getting hungover on the last-minute problems.

And this program is completely free, including the accommodation!!

What was there for me?

I experienced this terrific summer camp from the 19th to the 30th of August 2019. There were 23 participants from 12 universities around the world. There were eight laboratories for research projects. I took part in the laboratory for Information and Management Systems Engineering laboratory and I had three more colleagues from Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Thailand.

First Day at NUT

My Project

Needless to stay, I had a wonderful experience with those guys attending Lab activities which consisted of Building an Information Retrieval System using Machine Learning Techniques. The Masters students helped us setup the environment needed. And a well-planned schedule was given to complete the project in the coming days. This hands on experience was very useful in expanding our scope of knowledge and understanding of the applicability of the technologies in the industry, which I learned in the class room.

KSLab filled with Knowledge and Fun!

The project was developed using Word2Vec with Python programming Language on Linux Environment. First the Crawler, Scraper and Stemmer modules were implemented. Then the Word2Vec module was implemented. After implementing the retrieval module, the modules were put together and system was tested. This was done on Jupyter Notebook.

Outside Lab Work

Besides the in-class activities, the field visit to the Yahiko shrine was a remarkable experience, since I was able to learn a lot about Japanese history and culture. Also, the company visit to the OX Engineering gave me a great insight into all my in-class learnings from an industrial perspective. The Shodo (Calligraphy) cultural experience which took place as a cultural exchange program is still among my favorite memories from the whole NASSYE experience, as it was the first of its kind I had.

Not to mention, the city tour in Niigata, visit the Niigata city aquarium and the ancient house of the emperor were unforgettable memories too. And, I consider myself as a lucky person, as I was able to enjoy Japan most extensively. I experienced public transportation from buses to trains, enjoyed delicious Japanese cuisines. I witnessed the Japanese traditional dancing and singing on the side of the streets first-hand. I met the Sri Lankan community living in Japan and made new friends, and last but not least, enjoyed the long night walks on the university premises by myself.

Shodo Experience; Trying to write my name in Japanese :P

So…

NASSYE isn’t just another ordinary summer camp, which would make you work on a project with your teammates. It’s a cluster of experiences and remembrances of a vast range; an escape from your ordinary life to a magical place; an opportunity to improve yourself to look at the world from a completely different perspective and a place to make new life-long friendships.

I am humbly considered myself lucky as I was among the 23 students at the NASSYE in 2019. Now it is your turn to grab this golden opportunity and to experience it in your way!!

A Software Engineering Intern at 99X. A passionate Researcher, Public Speaker and Basketball Player