Hakusanroku Journal 白山麓ジャーナル

December 20, 2021 Engineering Design IIB Projects

Hi it's Jonathan again! Today I would like to show you the videos of the second year students talking about their Engineering Design projects. As you saw in the previous entry, students at ICT learn to find problems in their surroundings and create solutions to resolve them. The first year students focus on the Hakusanroku Campus, and the second year students take it a step further by moving their attention to the local community. Hakusanroku is a rural area in Ishikawa prefecture with problems you would expect from a village away from major cities; aging and decreasing population to name a few. The students were divided into three groups, each with a different theme.


The "Agri-tech" group focused on the growing problem of damage to crops by wild animals. Hakusanroku is home to wild boars, bears, and MANY monkeys. Locals try to protect their crops from them with electrical fences and fire crackers. However, this is becoming increasingly difficult as they grow older and fewer in number, and because monkeys quickly learn how to avoid their defenses. Seeing this, the Agri-tech group came up with a long term plan to create a automatic defense system against the animal forces. Their goal for this year was to create a system that can detect monkeys in the wild using AI. As you can see in their presentation, they took thousands of pictures of monkeys, which they "fed" to the AI until it could steadily achieved a recognition rate of 65~90%. Since monkey attacks to crops is a nation-wide problem and their are no current known projects working on this topic, this team may be the pioneers on solving a major issue all over Japan. You can read more details about their project here.


The "Agri-business" group turned their eyes to the decreasing population and shrinking economy. Hakusanroku is in a negative spiral, in which younger generations leave for larger cities which in turn leads to less demand and job opportunities for them. The group challenged themselves with designing and operating a business model of growing and selling Hakusanroku branded sweet potatoes. They planted, harvested, packaged and sold their sweet potatoes "Kanjyuku-Beni-Haruka". You can read more about their project here. In their presentation, they went into more detail on how much money they made (or lost) and what changes are necessary to actually create a sustainable business model in Hakusanroku.


Nigyo-Jyorui is a traditional puppet show dating back more that 300 years ago. The people of Higashi-futakuchi district have continued to preform it every year. However, their numbers are also dwindling and they have few young performers that serve as potential successors. You can read about the history of Ningyo-Jyoruri in this article. The group was limited on what they could actually do due to COVID-19, especially because this year's performance was canceled. In there presentation, they explained that after exhausting ideas such as collaborating with popular anime or creating online videos to spread the culture, they finally decided to appeal to the local children of Hakurei Elementary and Junior High School by hosting a doll making event at ICT. In the event, kids could use a 3D scanner and 3D printer to create Nigyo-Jyoruri dolls using their own scanned faces. Potentially, this would benefit both sides by introducing kids to ICT's technology and Ningyo-Jyoruri culture.

This final presentation was a great display of how much the second year students have grown. All their hard work has paid off by increasing not only their technological skills, but teamwork, time management,  presentation skills, and English skills.


You can see their presentations in the videos below. (The first two are in Japanese and last one is in English)












January 18, 2021 Engineering Design 1B Projects

Hi, it's Jonathan, the camera man. Today I would like to give a report about the final presentations for the first year students' Engineering Design 1B projects held on January 16. Engineering Design is the class in which students design solutions for problems within their local community. Students were divided into three groups and given the task of creating a prototype that helped their respective target group. The three targets were the security staff, cleaning staff, and onsen staff. Also, the prototype must be made using LEGO EV3 and biomimicry, which is the method of implementing characteristics of nature or animals into your project. Each group interviewed their target to understand their needs before deciding on what to create.

In the beginning of this semester, the students started by learning how to use LEGO EV3. LEGO EV3 is a robotic kit that you can customize and program. This took several weeks as the students learned how to build the blocks and gears, and program the robot to move as intended. They were given multiple courses that the robots had to complete. There was much trial and error as the students learned the fundamentals of robot programming. The pictures above were taken last October.

These are pictures of students a few days before the final presentation. Students learned how difficult time management is the hard way. All teams had to crunch after school to meet the deadline.

Security Staff Group "Sanitaika"

The security staff group learned from their interview that the guards had trouble noticing when visitors came into the building because they do not have a direct view of the entrance from their office. To solve this problem, the students designed a machine that detects and notifies the guards whenever the automatic doors open. The animal they mimicked was the firefly squid (famous in Toyama prefecture). The machine lights up to tell visitors where to go and also has an automatic hand sanitizer function. The students emphasized in their presentation that the wished to add a "fun element" to liven up the security staff's working environment. In this case, they designed a rotating mechanism that shows a man running through trees of the four seasons each time the sensor detects a visitor.

Cleaning Staff Group "Gommit"

The group that targeted the Hakusanroku Campus cleaning staff concluded from their interview that they should show more gratitude to the cleaning staff and make their jobs more enjoyable. To achieve this, they designed a machine attached to one of the garbage bins. They installed a sensor that detects how many times trash is thrown into the bin and a fan that opens depending on how full the garbage bin is. This fan is the group's biomimicry idea taken from the peacock. This is a visual indication of how full the garbage bin is. However, this is not the only function. When opening the garbage bin to remove the garbage bag, one of three stuffed animals will appear and make a sound. The animals and sounds are random so that the cleaning staff can enjoy this feature each time they use it. 

Onsen Staff Group "EV8"

The final group was the most aesthetically pleasing onsen staff group. Hakusanroku Campus has an onsen facility and this groups goal was to create something that would benefit the staff there. After interviewing the maneger and staff, the group learned that they desired to know if and how much the customers enjoyed their experience. To fulfill this, the group designed a machine that lets customers easily give their feedback. There are four sensors on the front of the base, which represent "Great" to "bad". (they plan to add smiley faces in the final version) Feedback is recorded on a memory card, so the onsen staff can view and keep track of the results. Also, a flower will bloom every five times a customer gives positive feedback. Since this machine will be installed in the onsen, students focused on aesthetics as well. They created two dioramas representing the seasons of Hakusanroku's landscape and gave the whole box a clean look.

All three groups' ideas and prototypes were unique and fascinating. They were well thought out and I could see how they improved their project from their first prototype to the second and final version. This is also why I could not help seeing room for improvement. The presentations were in English, which the Japanese students have still to master. Still, they could have been much better with practice. Also, each team needed to work until the last moment; which was a shame because they were all great! I am definitely planning to use this day as a mental waypoint to look back on and see how much they have grown in the future.


こんにちは、カメラマンのジョナサンです。今日は1月16日に行われた1年生のエンジニアリングデザインIBのプロジェクト最終発表について書きたいと思います。エンジニアリングデザインは学生たちが身の回りの課題を発見し、解決策を創出する授業です。今回は3つのグループに分けられ、それぞれ警備員、清掃員、温泉スタッフの3つの対象に向けた課題解決のプロトタイプ製作を目標としました。プロトタイプはLEGO EV3で作られ、自然界からヒントを得るバイオミミクリーをプロジェクトに取り組まなければなりません。各グループはそれぞれの対象顧客へのインタビューから活動を開始しました。

学期はじめ、1年生はLEGO EV3について勉強しました。LEGO EV3はカスタマイズ性があり、プログラミングで動かすことのできるロボットのキットです。学生たちは数週間かけてブロックの組み合わせ方や意図通りにロボットを動かすプログラミングの練習をしました。複数の課題やコースが用意され、学生たちは試行錯誤しながらクリアしていきました。写真は去年の10月に撮った時の様子です。










December 23, 2020 The story of the monkey project

Hello everyone, Welcome back to the journey (^o^)//. As you follow Hakusanroku Journal, The group of second-year students has been doing in Engineering Design class. Some of the students planted sweet potatoes in the garden across the campus. Unfortunately, The monkey gangsters stole the lovely sweet potatoes from the students.

Following this journal : https://www.ict-kanazawa.ac.jp/journal/12370/

皆さん、こんにちは。旅路へおかえりなさい(^o^)// 白山麓ジャーナルを普段から読んでいる方は、2年生のグループによるエンジニアリングデザインの活動について読んだことがあるでしょう。キャンパスの向かいの畑にさつまいもを植えた学生のグループがいます。しかし、残念ながら愛情を込めたさつまいもは猿のギャングによって盗まれてしまいました。

However, The “Agri-tech” group decided to create a system that can detect the monkey by using Artificial Intelligence (AI). They went to Ishikawaken Shinrin Koen Forest Zoo in Tsubata-machi and took photos of monkeys for teaching a machine (Machine Learning : ML) to recognize the monkey.


In my part, I have been used to Machine Learning before. Then, I suggest the student use the Jetson nano development board for their project. Jetson nano is a Small, Powerful computer for makers, learners, and developers. It’s easy to get started building practical AI Applications.

私は以前にも機械学習をしたことがありましたので、学生たちにJetson nano development boardを使うように勧めました。Jetson nanoはエンジニア、学生、開発者用に作られた小型ながらパワフルなコンピューターです。AIを使った実用的なアプリケーションを初めて作る人に適しています。

After the students took a Thousand monkey photos, We had to supervise the machine to recognize the monkey. We start designing the system and labeling all the images where the monkeys are in the photos.


The students spend a couple of weeks training a model that uses 100 images, 200 images, 300 images, and increasing to 1500 images and So on.


Finally, We got a model that is high accuracy and satisfied.


We went back to Forest park again and tested our machine. As you can see in the video, The system can detect real-time and count the monkeys by using a USB camera.


In the future, The students plan to make a box cover the device and install the machine in their garden to protect our sweet potatoes from the monkey.


Apirak Sang-ngenchai

December 21, 2020

              Hello everyone, Jomkit here with my very first journal entry! It’s been a few weeks since I started working here, but the beauty of nature still astounds me. I am not much for photography, but when I see the landscape surrounding us I can’t help but try and capture it on my phone. I’m no stranger to towering mountain ranges and trees that carpet them, but in my hometown of Portland, Maine, I would need to drive 45 minutes out of the city to see such magnificence. Here, all it takes is one glance out the window and I’m faced with a visage painted by the turning of the seasons.

              With that being said, the Hakusan area is much quieter than what I’m used to. Growing up I lived in the city next to a hospital, so there were many nights where I fell asleep in conditions some people would consider too noisy to think. But I’m getting used to the calmness of the rural area, and there’s certainly a few sights to see. One thing that has helped me deal with homesickness is walking to the nearby coffee shops, such as Kijitora or Koubou. I absolutely love trying new coffee, and neither of these places have disappointed. Kijitora’s style is delightfully reminiscent of the cafes in my hometown, and they have a fantastic selection of espresso drinks. Koubou on the other hand may only offer a limited selection of drink styles, but their cozy seats and warm atmosphere really makes you lose track of time. The homemade baked goods are likewise delightful. I’ve heard the coffee scene in Ishikawa is bustling, so I look forward to getting to know the specialties of local shops and roasters.

Jomkit Jujaroen




December 14, 2020 Experiencing the Fall Scenery

Hello everyone! My name is Brandon Wohlfarth and I just started teaching here at ICT, so this is my first Hakusanroku Journal entry. Since arriving at the Hakusanroku campus I have been blown away by the wonderful scenery surrounding campus. The mountains reaching up towards the sky, the rich reds and browns that mark the fall season, have all impressed me.

The natural landscape of the Hakusanroku campus is a stark contrast from many of the locations that I have lived in the United States. I attended Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology located in Terre Haute, Indiana where I received both my undergraduate and master’s degree. While I love Indiana, unfortunately the scenery only consisted of flat land used primarily for agriculture. This made outdoor activities such as hiking much less enjoyable. The difference between these two locations is truly like comparing night and day, completely different. After the winter, I am looking forward to being able to hike and explore the various trails in the Hakusan area.

I have been lucky so far that the weather has been pleasant so that I can still take the opportunity to enjoy nature before the snow and cold comes in. I have enjoyed walking around the Hakusanroku campus and the surrounding area. I am excited to see how the natural landscape surrounding us changes as the seasons progress, and in what other ways it may differ from what I have experienced in the past. Below are some of the pictures of the surrounding area that I have taken so far. I am not the greatest photographer so bear with me. Over the last few weeks it has been wonderful meeting the students, faculty, and staff members here at ICT. I look forward to working with everyone!

Brandon Wohlfarth




ブランド ウォルファース


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