Maintenance Mania

Hello! This morning we started off the day by travelling to the Vrije Universiteit (VU). This a university in Amsterdam with around 30,000 students. We were able to tour the school and explore their campus. While this wasn’t super useful to me as an individual, it was interesting to see the similarities between schools in Amsterdam and Pitt. For example, they don’t have the same type of recitations as us, but they still follow a similar style of teaching. Everything was definitely similar to tours I’ve been on back in the USA. The biggest, and most shocking, difference was the tuition. If you live in the Netherlands, the tuition is only 3,000 euros!

After the tour, we took transit to the KLM airlines base of operations at Schiphol airport. We were able to tour the maintenance engineering facility — a massive campus of buildings completed with a humongous hangar for the planes. Here we were able to learn about the upkeep of planes and get a close look at testing and inspecting of engines. The whole process is a massive undertaking, but is essential to insure that flights are safe. While lots of people are generally scared of flying, this process is one of the many reasons that planes are actually safer than cars. In our tour, we learned about techniques for inspecting the plane. For example, if an engineer suspects a part needs to be investigated, they can use ultrasonic testing to get a better look. However, they did mention that a lot of the process is done by eye and note keeping.

One of the many things we got to see was a Boeing 747 engine. Since the plane was undergoing maintenance, the turbojet was completely visible. This was really cool to see in person and learn about how some of the parts work. We even got to go to a test facility where they test the same engines. Unfortunately there wasn’t an engine in that room, but it was still cool to learn about. Overall, this visit was one of my favorites of the trip because it was up close and personal, as well as a topic that I am interested in pursuing in my future.

After the KLM visit, we headed to Packhuis de Zwijger. Here we were able to have a delicious dinner and attend a live podcast. This podcast was titled “Designing Cities for All” and dove into a talk about the economics of being sustainable. However, most of us agreed that the discussion was not based on anything too substantial. Not to be too political, but the basis of podcast was hoping for a better future. Whereas I was hoping to hear about ways we can get to that future. Regardless, it was a cool experience and stimulated a heated discussion with a few of the crowd members.

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