Day 11: Ice Cream Engineering

After taking yesterday to relax, I woke up feeling energized and ready to enjoy my last few days in China. Our first stop of the day was TE Connectivity, a company that manufactures the parts for the small electrical connectors used in devices. The visit started with a presentation about the company given by one of the manufacturing managers. The presentation covered each of the manufacturing processes they carry out on the factory floor, most of which are automated with humans only needed for maintenance and quality inspection. After the presentation and a Q&A, we put on some eye protection and toured the factory. The floor was filled with several types of machines which rapidly produced various small parts. Some machines cut metal into specific shapes, some made casings for the parts, and other machines handled other processes. One of the rooms held a bunch of machines with small, twisting robotic arms that seemed to attach things together. The visit was a showcase of the extent to which automation is integrated into most present-day manufacturing processes. Afterward, we had lunch a nearby mall.

The second company visit of the day took place at Dupont, a company that creates engineering innovations to improve the world. These innovations include creating new materials with special properties or whole products, such as pesticides that have less of an impact on the environment. The visit started like all the others before with a presentation on the history and work of the company along with a showcase of some of its most impactful creations. Unfortunately, I, along with about a third of the group, was only able to see about half of the tour because we were eating a special type of ice cream made by Dupont which is specially made to stay colder for longer. Apparently, the tour included a peek into one of those special rooms that absorbs all sound, which I’m disappointed about because I’ve always wanted to hear what complete silence is like. For what it’s worth, the ice cream was really good.

At night, we took a group to Nanjing Street in downtown Shanghai which was covered with flashy neon signs, designer shops, and entrances to malls. We ate dinner at a Pizza Hut which was much more upscale than those in the United States. All the pizzas on the menu were also more complicated, as in they did not serve pizzas with basic toppings like just sausage or just pepperoni. We ended up ordering a duck pizza, seafood pizza (with squid), a spicy beef pizza, and a chicken pizza, all of which were deep-dish and better prepared than those at Pizza Huts in America. We wanted to shop for souvenirs while we were at Nanjing Street but most of the shops were for high-end designer clothes and not really for products that would make good gifts. So, we didn’t end up buying anything, but it was still nice to walk around.

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