Sakura International Training program between Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan and Indonesia proves feasibility of collaborative hybrid hands-on learning


Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT) Japan, together with School of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Malaysia, have been awarded the Sakura Science Exchange Program in 2019 in Science and Technology. The grant is funded under the Japan Science and Technology (JST) Agency, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Japan. 10 students from UiTM Malaysia were scheduled to attend the program in Japan in March 2020, but it has been postponed and subsequently cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequently replaced with a hybrid online training program, International Training – Introduction to Embedded Programming (EIP). The program is a collaboration between four countries namely Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Taiwan.

The program was conducted from February 28 to March 5, 2022, supported by Innovation Lab UiTM. The aim of the program is to exchange ideas in the field of science and technology in addition to 1) Strengthen good relations between Japan and other countries and regions, 2) Encourage the globalization of Japanese educational and research institutes and 3) Support the development of talented students abroad who have the potential to contribute to innovation in science and technology; and support the continued interaction between Japan and other countries and regions.

The EIP was participated by 86 students in total from SIT Japan, UiTM Malaysia, I-Shou University (ISU) Taiwan, and Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS) Indonesia.

The 6-days online short course programme is carried out via Zoom and the main goal is to develop students’ interest in learning embedded programming and encourage the creativity in designing a control system. The programme is divided into 14 sessions and hosted by excellence professors from SIT Japan. Introduction session is managed by Prof. Takumi Misyoshi and Prof. Manabu Ichikawa. During this session, students are elucidated to Basics of C language language such as variables, branch, loops and functions.

On the third day, the programme becoming more interesting since the students are introduced to Arduino and Autodesk Tinkercad, demonstrated by the instructor, Prof. Akihiko Hanafusa. Students are required to learn input and output of electric circuit by using Arduino microcontroller board. After that, all students are divided into 15 small groups and students need to discuss and develop a simple project using provided Arduino kit. The group is diversified between students from SIT, UiTM, ISU and ITS to encourage students’ communication with participants from other country. Each project is presented online through Zoom platform and were given marks with voting score from all students and facilitators. As a result, group B obtained the highest mark and announced as a winner with a project title, Smart Curtain Opener.

In overall, International Training – Introduction to Embedded Programming (EIP) programme helps the students to get better exposure into embedded programming system and its applications. It is a good significant starting point to promote students’ interest to embedded programming and mechatronic. Therefore, a similar programme should be continued in the future for more students to gain benefits from this collaboration. It is also encouraging exploration and strengthen educational activities between researchers and further establish cooperation between Japan and Malaysia.