Power + Play: Sumitomo inspires creative learning with LEGO

As I child growing up watching Transformers cartoons, watching cars, trucks and planes change into robots was one of the most amazing things ever, and up to now I could still remember the sound they make when they “transform.”

Among my favorites, besides of course Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, were these group of Decepticons called Constructicons– robots that when merged together become Devastator– an even bigger robot.

But the thing that struck me most about them was unlike the truck mode of Optimus Prime, or Volkswagen Bumblebee, which I never saw on the streets, the Constructicons–a bulldozer, crane, dump truck, excavator, and cement mixer –were always outside our house building what was going to be a national highway at that time. And i would take a peek outside our window, often at night, imagining if they would transform into robots when no one is looking–they didn’t of course–but seeing the size of these construction equipments left me in awe. There was even a time I wanted to become a constuction worker, just to be able to operate these big machines.

I carried that sense of wonderment until I was an adult and I would always stare at these big machines whenever I see them–often with the words SUMITOMO.

So I could just imagine the excitement of the young students of San Joaquin Elementary School in Sto. Tomas Batangas when Sumitomo Heavy Industries (Philippines) Manufacturing & Services (SHIMS) visited them and told them they were actually going to build one of their most famous equipment–the Sumitomo excavator.

Together with their partners from LEGO, SHIMS treated the children to an afternoon free from the normal routine of school, replaced instead with an opportunity to explore the limits of their creativity and passion. 

“Partnering with LEGO for this CSR event is a very special opportunity for the kids of Sto. Tomas,” shares Hiroji Okamoto, President and CEO of Sumitomo Heavy Industries Manufacturing & Services.

A group of young students from San Joaquin Elementary School hard at work at completing their Sumitomo Lego Sets under the helpful supervision of a Sumitomo Heavy Industries Manufacturing & Services, Inc. employee and a member of the San Joaquin faculty.

The opportunity to spark something new and creative inside the minds of the next generation is a task that the company is happy to support. San Joaquin Elementary School is actually not the only beneficiary of this partnership. The company has reached out and helped kids using LEGO through sponsored CSR events before at other different locations. 

The main highlight of the CSR event was the LEGO Workshop and free play period wherein the participating children were given the chance to recreate a miniature LEGO version of a real life excavator machine by Sumitomo Construction Machinery Co., Ltd which is the Sumitomo Group company that manufactures and sells construction machinery. 

To underscore the importance of the event, Jumpei Mitsui was flown to the country to attend the CSR and hopefully inspire the next generation of creative builders. Mitsui is one of only fourteen LEGO Certified Professionals in the entire world, with each one having received special recognition from the LEGO company for his or her building proficiency, his or her mastery and enthusiasm for the LEGO brick and building system, as well as his or her professional approach towards building a community with other LEGO fans across the globe along with the public at large.  

Hands on! LEGO® Certified Professional Jumpei Mitsui helping a couple of San Joaquin Elementary School students with their Sumitomo Excavator LEGO® models.

LEGO’s participation in these CSR efforts is a match made in heaven. Sumitomo has always been committed to reaching out and touching base with the communities around it, an investment in changing the world for the better. Sumitomo hopes to spark a love for learning and creative thinking in the next generation, a task that LEGO is ideally suited to helping Sumitomo accomplish with their decades of experience in that arena. 

“I started playing with LEGO in my childhood, around one year old,” shares Mitsui. “I just never stopped playing.” A professional engineer by trade, Jumpei would eventually find himself leaving his position at a steel manufacturing plant to pursue his love and passion for LEGO full-time as a LEGO certified professional.

Jumpei believes that LEGO remains an invaluable training tool for children today. “It’s the best learning tool for trial and error,” he explains. Children can experiment and explore their creativity by themselves with no risk or fear. “And if [what they create] is not good, you can easily disassemble and try again,” says Mitsui.

Jumpei Mitsui personally designed the 97-piece SUMITOMO Excavator kit that the children were tasked to complete. Mitsui says that despite the seemingly high number of pieces, he kept the kit simple enough for even young children to figure out by themselves. His main challenge was keeping that simplicity without sacrificing the accuracy and the “coolness” of the model. It was a difficult balancing act to be sure but judging from the delighted and awed faces of the children participating in the event, it was one that Mitsui succeeded in achieving. 

The Sumitomo excavator kit is modeled after a real-life piece of the SH210-6 which is one of the most fuel-efficient hydraulic excavators of the Sumitomo Construction Machinery Co., Ltd.  This model along with the SH130-6 was exhibited at the 2019 PhilConstruct Expo last November 7-10, 2019 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. These models have acquired high satisfaction by customers from Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and other ASEAN countries.

LEGO® Certified Professional Jumpei Mitsui standing proudly with a group of San Joaquin Elementary School Students and their assembled Sumitomo Excavator LEGO models

Here in the Philippines, Sumitomo’s hydraulic excavators are distributed by Macro Construction Equipment and asphalt pavers by Kurashiki Equipment Philippines Corporation. 

The Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. (SHI), parent company of the Sumitomo Group, has deep roots stretching back almost four hundred years to 17th century Japan. The company originally manufactured copper mining equipment but since then, four centuries of constant technological growth and innovation has seen Sumitomo’s reach expand greatly. The company is now a globally recognized player in the fields of General Industrial Machinery, Precision Control Equipment, and even Ship Building.

Sumitomo Heavy Industries Manufacturing & Services, Inc. President and CEO Hiroji Okamoto and LEGO Certified Professional Jumpei Mitsui share a happy moment together

From its inception, SHI has operated on the belief that “Serving Society is a Benefit to the Company.” Today, this commitment to reaching out and making the world a better place can be seen in their numerous Corporate Social Responsibility efforts all over the world.

The SHIMS and LEGO partnership for the CSR event in San Joaquin Elementary School is the latest in a long-running and continuing series of philanthropic campaigns from the company.

The company’s efforts to help the local town and community, and San Joaquin Elementary School in particular, goes way beyond sponsoring educational CSR events for the student body. Some of the buildings and structures in the surprisingly well-appointed school were donated by Sumitomo Heavy Industries Manufacturing & Services.

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