Experiencing different aspects of the SECOM business through training.
Soon after joining SECOM, all new employees must attend a two week training program. This includes all new ISL researchers, engineers from other development sections, emergency response personnel as well as and co-workers from all other departments.
During this program, I learned about the numerous security services provided by SECOM through lectures and on-hand training. Learning about the current security systems used by SECOM was valuable for my future research.
After the new employee training program, ISL researchers spend the next six months at the Technical Center for on-the-job training (OJT) to learn about system development and commercialization. I was assigned to test and evaluate a new residential security system which was on the eve of release. System behavior against all possible user interactions was systematically checked to confirm that the system behaved correctly and was error-free. The system was installed in actual customer residences, so I had to be very meticulous throughout the evaluation. When the system was released and shipped, I felt both excited and nervous.
All researchers also participate in field training during the OJT period. During field training, new researchers work in the field, alongside security guards or sales representatives at SECOM Shops. Being able to listen to senior staff members, as well as experience their jobs firsthand, motivated me to envision what types of research would be socially valuable.
New employee ≈ Workforce
Six months after joining SECOM, I was finally assigned to the laboratory. However, the training programs continued still. In the laboratory, a job rotation program is carried out to acquire skills necessary to conduct practical (as opposed to theoretical) research, and to experience different fields of research to find the appropriate field that best matches one’s abilities and motivation.
The first research group that I was assigned to was the Assistive Technology Group, whose research focus is similar to my major at school, so I was able to propose various ideas for new products. In ISL, new employees are welcome and encouraged to freely discuss and propose new ideas. During this period, I was able to work both in the ISL, as well as outside the laboratory by visiting affiliated hospitals and retirement homes, participating in seminars and acquiring qualification for home nursing services.
I am now assigned to the Biometrics Group, where I gather experimental data, devise and implement algorithms and investigate relevant patents. This research is completely different from my previous group, as I had no previous experience in image processing. I started by reading introductory reference materials such as "Beginning C Programming" and "The Basics of Image Processing." Although I felt overwhelmed in the beginning since there was so much I had to learn in a short period of time just to catch up to the other members of the group, the senior researchers always provided advice and support . Now, I have started to understand what makes image processing enjoyable, and am aiming to apply for a patent. Thanks to careful guidance, I feel that I have learned valuable information about different research strategies and ways to conduct research in a company.
During the training period at the laboratory, new employees do not go through a fixed training program, but they are assigned to take part in research immediately. New researchers are not only responsible for a research topic, but are expected to provide a solution, which makes for a stressful but enjoyable experience.
Spending quality time outside work
With my co-workers, I play tennis once a week and play badminton or table tennis twice a month close to our office. Especially, my tennis skills are improving rapidly because a co-worker, who is a good tennis player, coaches me. Some people play indoor soccer on the weekends, so I sometimes join them as well. Besides sports, ramen (japanese noodles) tours are often held by those who enjoy ramen and we also go camping or hold barbecues. A lot of social events are held in the ISL throughout the year.
In addition, ISL has adopted a flexible working hour system so that we can use time efficiently and effectively. Thanks to this system, I am able to volunteer to nursing-care services, or have time to prepare cookies to bring for my co-workers.
Though there are only a few women in the laboratory, I sometimes take a walk to the cafes in Kichijoji or take a stroll through Inokashira Park with girls from other departments. There are some intuitions and ways of thinking that only a woman has, and I would like to apply it to my research.
Of course, female researchers are always welcome at the lab!