04. March 2022

Her name means: "Full of light!"

Chiaki from Japan is doing a research internship at IPM and inspires with her project and her culture.

Chiaki Nishihara can't stop smiling as she plates and serves the traditional Japanese stew "Nikujaga". The 23-year-old student from Tokyo has just presented her internship report and can now present herself as an ambassador of her home country and food culture. Her offer is gratefully accepted by the staff of the Institute of Process Engineering, Process Automation and Measurement Technology (IPM) and her supervisor Martin Herling.

Chiaki spent three months researching at the IPM. The overall objective of the project is to have a robot determine the optimal conditions for plant growth. "It should be able to determine the best conditions for plant growth by means of predefined parameters that result from evaluations and calculations of previously collected data," explains Martin Herling. "Simply put, if you want to grow carrots next to onions, the robot should know in advance what soil conditions and what use of irrigation and fertiliser are necessary to finally achieve the best results."

Chiaki didn't get quite that far during her three-month stay, grins the research assistant. There is still a long way to go before the final result - the use of artificial intelligence in agriculture. But Chiaki has made a valuable contribution to research through her programming performance and collection of data sets on the growth of common wheat.

Using a camera, she filmed the plant in fast motion over several days. She analysed the resulting images to derive data models for plant growth, which ultimately forms the basis for the work of an AI-controlled robot.

For Martin Herling, Chiaki is the first internship student he has supervised as part of his research project. He is very satisfied with the collaboration and emphasises that he deliberately gave Chiaki a lot of space to try things out for herself and let her interests flow in. "In the three months, we got as far as image analysis. The functions that were created can now also be edited and expanded thanks to open source technology," he sums up.

In addition to the presentation of their research results, there was time for a short introduction to Japanese writing.

"My name, for example, is made up of the two characters for 'one thousand' and 'brightness'. So together it means something like 'full of light'", explains the friendly student Chiaki Nishihara.

Martin Herling reports that the culturally enthusiastic Japanese woman made the most of her three-month internship in Germany, which was funded by the IAESTE programme. With side trips to Poland, Sweden and Switzerland, she has opened up a large part of Europe for herself in this short time. The next station leads seamlessly across the "big pond". In the USA, the 23-year-old, who is actually studying immunology in her hometown of Tokyo, will continue her Master's studies during a six-month stay. She will take the wonderful memories of her stay in Zittau and the German culture with her.

Do you want to know more about Chiaki's stay in Zittau?

On 4th March 2022 the newspaper Sächsische Zeitung published the article „Japanerin forscht in Zittau“ (available in german only).

Would you like to do an internship abroad?

IAESTE stands for: International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience.

The programme is about the arrangement and conduction of job-related specialised internships, preferably in the field of natural sciences and engineering. More than 90 countries around the world participate in this programme.

Are you curious? Click here for more info!

Text: Cornelia Rothe M.A.

Ihre Ansprechperson
Martin Herling
Institut für Prozesstechnik, Prozessautomatisierung und Messtechnik
02763 Zittau
Th.-Körner-Allee 8
Building Z IVc, Room C1.13
+49 3583 612-4696