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The Working at Rapyuta Vol.4 “A Young Engineer’s Perspective on the Appeal of Working in a Robotics Venture That Combines Various Cultures”

Date: 15 Dec 2022
Category: people

The “Working at Rapyuta” series celebrates some of the best minds at Rapyuta Robotics. Through interviews with employees, we bring you the real story that you won’t find elsewhere.

Itaru Fujiwara – Field Application Engineer

Born and raised in the Netherlands, Itaru spent 12 years there. He spent his school years in Cambodia and the U.S. He joined Rapyuta Robotics as an intern while still in college. After a six-month internship, he joined Rapyuta Robotics full-time as a new graduate in April 2021. 
He used his knowledge of computer science, software development, and language skills to engage in product development, operations, and implementation support. He enjoys his work every day with his cheerful attitude and excellent communication skills.

Growing up in a global environment and aspiring to become an engineer

I lived abroad all my life before joining Rapyuta Robotics. I was born and raised in the Netherlands. I spent two years in Cambodia and was in the United States for high school and college. It might sound unusual, but I didn’t have a particularly unusual life. It was a normal childhood. The only difference was that I went to an international school throughout my childhood, so I communicated with people from different countries and was exposed to different ways of thinking and cultures. 

I have always loved gaming. By the time I was in junior high school, I was making and playing games by myself. In high school, I was interested in personal computers and made them myself. I was fascinated by software and hardware.  At university, I performed research in software development and computer science as an extension of that interest.
While I was looking for an internship, I came across Rapyuta Robotics. Because of my upbringing, I was more interested in companies with a foreign culture and start-ups than strictly Japanese companies. At the time, there were few options for computer science and software engineers. Another point that I found compelling is the founder is Sri Lankan and the members are very multinational.

From Intern to Full-Time Employee: Working hard and competing on an equal footing with other members of the company

When I joined the company as an intern, I helped with simulations, product development, and its support. I could speak both Japanese and English, so I was also in a position to assist in communication between the Japanese clients and the engineers.
After interning for six months, I graduated from university and began work as a full-time employee.

In 2022, I was assigned to the Robot Operations team for our collaborative picking assist robot, Rapyuta PA-AMR. I worked between the on-site support team and the development team. I performed a variety of tasks from product installation at the customer’s site, creating maps and configurations, to post-operational support. I experienced the importance of communication with both the development and support teams. Now I am preparing for future upgrades of Rapyuta PA-AMR by creating new analysis tools and making other preparations to ensure that future installations will be as smooth as possible.

Work is fun, of course. And above all, the people are kind. That’s why I want to work at Rapyuta

From the beginning as an intern at Rapyuta Robotics, I knew I wanted to work there as a full-time employee. The reason is that I genuinely enjoy the work itself. When I developed software, I could only see the movement on the computer screen. But with robotics development, I can see the robot moving in front of my eyes.  Of course, not everything works according to plan. When the robot works as intended, there is a joy that cannot be felt with software and I find that part to be the most enjoyable.

Above all, the people I work with are very kind, and I feel that everyone, including the CEO, is easy to communicate with. There’s still a lot I don’t understand, so I think it’s important to ask questions rather than wondering by myself. The experts are always willing to help me. I feel this is a really good place to work, not only because my work goes smoothly, but also because I am inspired by the people around me. My knowledge is increasing and growing. I am becoming more and more involved in the development and I would like to feel more assertive in open discussions.

In the future, I want to carry out more new projects. My current goal is to stabilize and improve the quality of Rapyuta PA-AMR and make it more efficient for picking.

The multinational environment is special and we love to talk about it

I think the best thing about Rapyuta Robotics is the multinational environment. The fact that we have people of many different nationalities, experiences, and various opinions fostered through these experiences is a tremendous strength. I believe we can create something interesting that cannot be found anywhere else. This makes communication difficult at times, but I love to talk with people, so I enjoy this environment.

Moreover, everyone thinks of all members as equal. I am very happy I can talk to manager-level members as equals. They are willing to listen to my opinions as a young person and make decisions based on them. I feel that it is a wonderful environment to be able to talk freely with anyone, regardless of age, nationality, position, etc., and to be able to immediately ask questions when I don’t understand. This is true not only at work but also in my private life. The other day, I had a chance to cook and eat monjayaki with the CEO!

What are the roots of Rapyuta’s “flatness” and “gentleness”

Rapyuta Robotics has six core values that guide our decision-making process, and I like the concept of [Empathy] the best. I feel that this kind of thinking is not often seen in foreign-affiliated or overseas companies.
I think it is very important not only when customers are in need, but also when interacting with internal stakeholders. I like the mixture of Japanese-style thinking– I am amazed that this concept can be shared within such a multinational company.

Important Ideas for Rapyuta engineers

I have the opportunity to conduct job interviews for mid-career hires and I believe that in addition to knowledge and technology, the right skills of an engineer are pushed through customer interactions.  I listen carefully to the dialogue that takes place at the customer’s site. 
During the interview, I talk about technical matters in the first half of the interview and ask about the person’s way of thinking in the second half. I think it is essential for an engineer to have a firm grasp of the other person’s way of thinking and to be able to respond with that in mind..

We are technology experts, so we speak with detailed knowledge that sometimes our clients may not understand. At such times, I think it is important to consider what kind of explanations and support they want to hear. Explain it to them in a way that they can understand, and engage in the way they want. I would be happy if the people I work with share the same way of thinking in this area.

In terms of feelings, since we are a venture-back company, we are in a challenging time. As things change, I feel it is important to be able to think on my own about how to deal with and solve problems as they arise. I work with many overseas engineers. I think that how you think about communication will determine whether you can enjoy the job or not. Not just in a linguistic sense, many people communicate directly, in both good and harsh ways, so it is necessary to be able to think positively about how to accept, interpret, and deal with these things. Accept what they say honestly and have a positive discussion about what to do next. If you are good at this or can empathize and make an effort in this area, I think you will have a lot of fun working here.
It is a challenging environment in many aspects, but if this sounds great, I think you will be a great match. If you like robots and are interested in working with people from different countries, please apply!

Let’s have fun while working together!
We’re hiring!

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