Tokyo Institute of Technology: Third Fall 2021 IoT seminar focuses on Python for beginners

Tokyo Tech’s Collaboration Center for Design and Manufacturing (CODAMA) and the Student Support Center held the third Fall 2021 introductory IoT seminar on January 12 and 19, 2022 on Ookayama Campus. The focus of this event — the last of three this fall — was Python programming for beginners.

In addition to Tokyo Tech staff, supporting the 16 students of the first session and 11 students of the second session were employees of Comodo Solutions Co. Ltd., a Tokyo-based systems and software development company that is headed by a Tokyo Tech alumnus. The two-day program was structured so that inexperienced students could learn the basics of programming and practically apply their code by the end of each session.

Day One: Python basics and music player creation
After an opening greeting from CODAMA Deputy Director Takushi Saito, the participants began Day One with the basics, connecting their Raspberry Pi single-board computer, equipped with a Linux operating system, to their monitors and other peripheral devices. They then began experimenting with Python under the guidance of two Comodo Solutions employees — Yuki Kaneda and Masakazu Takeuchi. Kaneda provided the explanations while Takeuchi did the coding, allowing participants to see for themselves the effects as the programming progressed. The difficulty level of the session increased gradually, and after learning the syntax for IF statements used for conditional branching and FOR statements for repetitive actions, the students started to use their newly acquired knowledge to create a music player. They also installed pygame.mixer, a module for playing music, and experienced how their own codes could actually generate music.

Day Two: Digital signage creation
On Day Two, the students continued with more practical Python programming. The task for the day was to create an advertising medium in response to a client request, something that only an instructor working for a company could provide for the class. To experience the process of creating an advertisement, the students began by creating a digital signage. Using Tkinter, a library built into Python for building and manipulating graphic user interfaces, the students started creating frames for displaying images. By following carefully crafted step-by-step instructions, all the students were able to display their images successfully. They then continued to test new code in an attempt to switch images and display them in full screen mode.

An additional challenge for the students was that they were expected to “display different advertisements during the day and night.” The participants built basic circuits on breadboards using photoresistors and A/D converters, and connected these to the general-purpose input/output ports on the Raspberry Pi device. When combining this setup with their program, the students experienced value changes when they alter the brightness with their hand over the sensor. With the support of their instructors, the students worked diligently to connect the wires and achieved a sense of accomplishment when they confirmed that the image changed based on the adjusted brightness.

As with previous sessions, this event closed with final words of encouragement from CODAMA Director Takaaki Manaka.Final comments from CODAMA Director Manaka
Final comments from CODAMA Director Manaka

Comments from participants
It was enjoyable to learn the basics on the first day, and then smoothly transition to things that companies actually do on the second day.
I had tried out Python in other classes, but I did not know it could be used to achieve some of the things introduced in this seminar.
I become more motivated to create the things that I want and to the extent that I want.
Throughout the two sessions, the Comodo Solutions instructors provided generous support, confirmed the progress of the participants, and carefully advanced with the lectures, allowing students to learn practical, hands-on programming techniques. The students were pleased to receive guidance on the spot for issues that they initially had difficulty understanding.

The Institute will continue to provide opportunities for students to experience and learn IoT technology with the cooperation of Tokyo Tech alumni and companies that are active on the front lines of science and technology.

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