Today we went on a tour of our fourth company, SGL. They are a company that focuses primarily on providing carbon components to the auto industry. They started the tour out with an information session like many of the other companies had. I found this session more interesting than the others because SGL had recently sold a large portion of their company because they were no longer profitable in that section. In their info session, we learned about some of the ways they were going to try to become profitable again. After this session, we went on a tour of some of their facilities. This was also cool because prior to this visit I did not know much about carbon fiber or how it was made. It took many chemical processes and ovens to change a white fiber into the black carbon fiber that people recognize. They also ended their tour by providing us with a delicious lasagna lunch before we headed back to the university.
After arriving back at the university, we had the opportunity to talk with someone from BMW. Most of this conversation was focused around the development of autonomous driving at BMW. In my first semester at Pitt I had written a paper on autonomous driving, so I found this very interesting. Two things stuck out to me from this conversation. The first was how many stages were necessary to the progression of this technology. I had always assumed that there could either be some assisting features to vehicles or that they would be fully autonomous. BMW helped clarify the that there were mare stages and that even the companies who advertised fully autonomous vehicles today were not fully autonomous. I was also shocked by the time frame that they projected this to happen in. I had always imagined autonomous vehicles hitting the market in bulk to still be a thing of the distant future, but BMW sees things happening much quicker. After this conversation, I am very excited about going on a tour of BMW on Monday.