Friday, April 4, 2008

Visiting Intel

So anyone who's interested in Dalian or micro-processors already knows that Intel is pouring 2.5 billion dollars (roughly the entire economy of Rwanda) into a big chip manufacturing plant in the Development Zone outside Dalian.

So the Chinese language school I work for provides Mandarin training for many of Intel's foreign employees out there, and yesterday I went with the boss to do a little customer servicing (and this is where I would make a Client # joke had such jokes not been flayed to death like that horse in Raskolnikov's dream).

Anyway, it was pretty interesting. In my imagination, Intel's headquarters would be a gleaming corporate megalopolis of robots and logos, but it turns out that building a 2.5 billion dollar chip fabrication plant requires time-- what I got to see was the giant skeleton of a plant, standing there like the T-Rex in the Natural History Museum in NY. It won't be finished until late 2009, and in the meantime everyone works in these mobile bunker offices that have all the personality of corporate America without any of the luxury or comfort of wealth. Yikes.

So me and my boss interview a half-dozen Intel engineers from all over the world about their experiences studying Mandarin, trying to figure out how we could improve the quality of our service to them. I also got a glimpse of their lives and routines; some of them live in the city and spend an hour commuting to work every day, but most are in this remote complex of villas built way out in the middle of nowhere near the factory, and live in this fake artificial bubble complete with its own American school and hospital.

In the end, we got good feedback and I got a strong reminder to never EVER take a corporate job.

Punch the clock-- it's a three day weekend.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's not that bad - the Dalian Fab is a construction site.

If you want a good laugh, google Conan O'Brien visits Intel Headquarters