Waking up today was a hard task, as the long trip had taken a large physical and mental toll on everyone, not to mention the slight apprehension felt by having to visit two new sites in a day. We had a slightly longer trip than normal towards the bình dương province of Ho Chi Minh City where one of seven Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks was located. The parks marked a twenty-three year long joint venture between the companies Sembcorp and Becamex and the governments they represented. When the venture had initially started, Singapore and Vietnam faced the opposite set of problems, Singapore had a lot of money, but not a lot of land, whereas Vietnam had no money to develop the giant stretches of land they had. So, the two governments collaborated to create a place for jobs and investment from other countries to flow into. Using the set of standards held by the Singaporean government, VSIP creates industrial parks that feature developed roads, water treatment, and amenities for their tenant companies. Hosting companies like Microsoft, Siemens, and P&G, VSIP provides multiple types of services to give companies a place to work like having ready-made factory space where companies can move in their own equipment in order to start production of whatever product they are making. Companies can also opt to develop their own land, leasing a certain plot for fifty years, free to produce whatever kind of facility they want on it. Due to Vietnam’s availability of cheap labor, VSIP is able to provide a constantly flowing work force for the companies to use in the manufacturing process. Due to the growing popularity of the industrial parks as a service, VSIP has started to develop integrated townships, making living spaces available for not only the tenants of the industrial park, but available for anyone in the genral population so as to serve for a way to improve some living conditions in Ho Chi Minh. VSIP competes with hundreds of industrial parks, all looking to bring investment to Vietnam from other places, so it uses certain differentiators to make it stand out from the rest, first and foremost being its one-stop shop characteristics. Due to VSIP being a government supported directive, they are allowed to maintain their own in-house customs service for companies to use. They can also assist their clients in the visa application process, making them an attractive place to set up shop for foreigners.
One such company we visited in the park was II-VI, an electrical components and optical hardware manufacturing. Based in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, the plant we visited was dedicated to the production of optical lenses and thermoelectric coolers. As a materials science student, the visit was a giant dream come true, especially after visits to slightly more confounding places like Vinacapital. Having visited multiple career fairs I can say with a pretty large amount of certainty that materials scientists have a rough time finding a job not only applicable to their field of study, but also finding a company that understands how MSE differs from other types of engineering, so much so that many materials science students will default to the pursuit of graduate degrees as many places only look for them in a research capacity. Not only does II-VI display some of the best and most applicable parts of my field of study, but also shows how successful it can be in an industrial capacity. Using the principles of optics, composite metals, and photonics, II-VI makes versatile and useful products in all types of industries from medical sciences to military. Semiconductor lasers, optic lenses, fiber optic cabling, and metal, ceramic and crystal composites all play important roles in not only complex technological systems, but also everyday electronics like our wifi systems, cars, and computers. No one process is really that complex either in their production process to allow for low-skilled laborers to complete tasks. Using simple electrolytic plating principles we learned in junior year chemistry for their thermoelectric coolers or diffraction of lasers to measure the dimensions of lenses almost barely bigger than a grain of sand, it was amazingly comforting to see how much of the general process I understood. Of course the composite metals themselves require complex process to produce, it was still relieving to understand why the properties of certain elements made them the optimal combination for whatever processes they were used for.
The company itself has location all over the world, especially after its acquisition of Finisar, a leading company in optical communications. The combination of the two companies allow for the allocation of resources towards the study of the trends and logistics of how the hardware they produced had a future in the application of technology. Many of the trends lean towards the raised consumption of consumer electronics and fiber optic networks.