As previously introduced in the Cygames Magazine article, Tech Kids Camp in Imari Report: Every Sixth Grader in Imari City Takes on Game Design!,” Cygames continues to be actively involved in initiatives to support programming education. One such effort is a program to donate PCs to educational institutions. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what Cygames is doing!

Creating comfortable environments for young people to learn programming! Why does Cygames donate PCs?

At Cygames, we believe that to create the best content, it’s important for creators to have a comfortable environment in which they can focus on development and production. As such, staff members are provided with cutting-edge facilities and tools, as well as the best equipment. It’s for that reason that equipment is regularly traded in for newer versions.

When we upgrade our equipment, we’re left with PCs that are no longer used at the company but are still high-performance machines with plenty of use left in them. Wondering if there’s a way to put them to good use, we began donating PCs to educational institutions in the hopes that they will be of use to the creators of tomorrow’s content—youths—in the fall of 2018.

There are plans to make elementary school programming classes mandatory starting from the 2020 school year, giving children more and more opportunities to come into contact with programming. Conversely, there are a large number of classrooms that are unable to provide the kind of PC environments essential for learning how to program.

As such, Cygames believes that we ought to help furnish these environments for learning how to program, and has so far donated PCs to 160 locations across Japan, including CoderDojo Japan locations, tech colleges in the Kyushu region, and elsewhere.

To find out how these PCs were being used, we visited two schools we donated to in July 2019. The first was the National Institute of Technology, Ariake College in Fukuoka, and the second was the National Institute of Technology, Sasebo College in Nagasaki.

We visited Fukuoka’s National Institute of Technology, Ariake College!

We first visited the National Institute of Technology, Ariake College (Ariake College) in late September, 2019. It was the final day of summer break for the students there.

Professor Nanbu from the Creative Engineering department agreed to speak to us. We also spoke to Yoshitomi, a member of the technical support team who oversaw the intake of these PCs, as well as individuals from the General Affairs department.

Professor Nanbu acted as the school’s point of contact for this donation of PCs. He is also the former teacher of Cygames’s President, Mr. Koichi Watanabe! During our interview, he occasionally told stories of Mr. Watanabe’s time as a student.

Sixty desktop PCs and thirty laptop computers were donated to Ariake College, for a total of 90 computers. These were distributed among the various labs at Ariake College’s Creative Engineering department, and they’re now being used for microcomputer experiments and research and the writing up of reports, among other things.

Students using donated PCs in their coursework.

After a brief discussion in one of the school’s meeting rooms, we visited Professor Nanbu’s own lab!

Professor Nanbu only transferred to the department last year, and while he thought it would take a number of years before he could assemble the equipment needed for his research, the possibility of this donation then came up. He said it was a big help, as it allowed him to immediately put together a research lab.

He’s now able to provide one PC to every student in his lab, and we heard from students who voiced their happiness that this has made learning and research much easier.

Research is conducted on a one-PC-per-student basis. At times, students will have discussions with Professor Nanbu while working on the PC.

Our next stop: Nagasaki’s National Institute of Technology, Sasebo College!

We next visited the National Institute of Technology, Sasebo College. This visit took place in early October. Summer break had come to an end, and students had returned to school once more.

We spoke to Professors Teramura, Kawasaki, and Mitsuhashi of the Electrical and Electronic Engineering department, as well as Professor Mogi of the technical support team. Professor Teramura acted as the school’s point of contact for this donation of PCs.

Sixty desktop PCs and one hundred laptop computers were donated to the National Institute of Technology, Sasebo College (Sasebo College), for a total of 160 computers. Thirty laptop computers were placed in Sasebo College’s Electrical and Electronic Engineering department’s laboratory, and the remaining computers were distributed among other labs. Classes for the general public are also held in the laboratory, meaning that the laptop computers are being put to good use.

After hearing from the teachers, we visited their research areas and labs!

Laptop computers were primarily used for gathering documentation and creating reports, while desktops were used for experimentation and research purposes, such as controlling 3D printers and simulating plasma. Desktop PCs were also used for GPU-based computations in labs focused on deep learning!

Students confer while using notebooks. They also use high-powered desktop PCs to analyze numeric data.

We heard from teachers and students after our visit. Here are what some of them had to say (edited with permission).

“When we conduct research, PCs are essential to designing circuits, performing simulations, sorting data, creating documentation, and much more. The donated PCs are far superior in performance to the ones I used before, so this allowed my research to proceed unhindered. The PCs will continue to be helpful when preparing presentations for future conference papers and exhibitions. I just hope my presentations will do them justice.” —Student K, 2nd year student in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering department

“I’m using the donated PCs for image processing research. I am researching methods of embedding electronic data in high-resolution images. Currently, I’m conducting experiments into the degree of degradation experienced when embedding a ternary number into a single RGB pixel, and as it takes time to process images in this research, the donated PCs have been very helpful. —Student K, 5th year student in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering department

We’re very grateful for the messages you sent us via Professor Teramura!

After our visits…

In addition to getting the opportunity to see how the donated PCs were being used in the classrooms, we were also able to hear from educators, making it a great learning experience.

As the donated PCs were used inside our company, they did of course see some wear and tear over the years. Issues such as their operating systems being dated could have been an issue, for example. However, we were able to gather very useful feedback from these institutes of technology, such as “We were able to use them with no problems after doing some maintenance,” “There’s some software that only works on older operating systems, so we sometimes use them offline. These computers are helpful, if anything,” and “I’m satisfied with the equipment, as the PCs still have quite high specs compared to even new equipment.”

At Cygames, we would like to work at improving on the challenges we saw through the donations made to these two schools as we continue our PC donation program.

We also plan on continuing our proactive efforts to assist programming education beyond just PC donations so that we can contribute to the fostering of talent that can support tomorrow’s game industry.