Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#ExperienceBosch - Experience the World

Never have I ever imagined that I will get to travel around the world in my twenties, let alone fully sponsored. After all, I come from a modest family and I studied locally in Malaysia. But fate always have a way to play things out. Zairynn, the lady from Bosch Malaysia whom I knew through the Bosch Innovate around My Campus in UTAR, was in the panel of interviewers for the Bosch World Experience. She immediately recognized me credits to my distinctive curly hair and unmistakable black rim glasses.

Finally found a good use for my curly hairs!

That, presumably together with my shameless attempt at bad jokes to Karo and Tobi (both also on the panel), made me stand out as a suitable candidate to make the 18-day whirlwind around-the-world tour enjoyable.

I was still skeptical when I boarded the plane to our first destination - London. Will they kidnap me half way? Is this all an email scam from some “African Prince” promising fortune and love? What happens if they find out I used up all my bad jokes? Most importantly, do they have WiFi?!

IMG_20140720_144638 Given how exorbitant London cabs are, I figure my kidney must be invaluable if they hire a chauffeur in Mercedes-Benz to pick me up just to butcher me.

We got to visit the most iconic bridge in London with its blue and gray - the Tower Bridge. Built in the 1800s, it is now a major way across the Thames apart from the familiar London Bridge. Bosch Rexroth powers the hydraulic system that lifts the leaves of this bascule bridge. Guided by the engineers, we had a tour visiting the engine rooms, the old defunct control room and also a big space for the end of the leaves to flip in when the bridge is open.

The London Eye is a great spot to view the scenery along Thames River. There was a long line of tourists and locals wanting to go up and enjoy the breathtaking view of London. On the top, you can almost feel the history of London with its myriad of cultures and customs seeping into you. By the way, London Eye is also powered by Bosch Rexroth!


We also dined at the Shard, Europe's tallest building. Everyone was just stunned by the beauty from the top of the Shard, not to mention the fine cuisines they serve. This is just the first stop! Can they top it off? (answer: yes!)
Of course I have to take a photo before we eat!

The Panama Canal is considered one of the World's greatest engineering wonder. We were fortunate enough to visit it during its centennial. Imagine cutting through Central America to link the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean - 100 years ago! With the incredible scale and humid weather, add together with the endemic mosquitoes, Panama has gone through many hardships to construct this megastructure.

Staring from the tower in between two chambers at the Miraflores lock towards the Pacific Ocean, I cannot help but wonder how far can human defy nature? How will we shape our civilization? The grandiosity of this 100-year old man-made wonder stunned me. I am convinced if we put our hearts to it, we can achieve the (seemingly) impossible. Very encouraging to fuel my craziest dream.
If we can do this 100 years ago, colonization of Mars does not seem so distant anymore.

Juxtaposed next to this man made wonder is the wealth of natural wonders. Nothing can top my excitement whenever I mention the whale watching trip out to Pearl Island. We were so fortunate when 4 whales breached out in front of us, around 50 meters away. The grace and beauty of that creature took our breath away. Even the accompanying guide took out his phone to capture the moment, and you know that moment is rare because he goes out to the sea almost everyday!

San Francisco
After staying nearby at Berkeley for nearly a month before leaving for Malaysia this summer, I am no stranger to The City by The Bay. The metaphorical Silicon Valley is here with its crazy rate of companies popping up and crazy capitals raised by startups (read Uber). One thing everyone noticed is how comfortable the breeze and temperature in SF are! It was a great relief from the hot and humid weather in London and Panama. Cannot believe they told me the weather is like that in Germany and The Netherlands too, but I digress.

I jumped in joy like a boy with his toy when we visited Bosch Research and Technology Center in Palo Alto. Not everyday you get to try out Automated Vehicles and learn about augmented reality!

I even did my own robot signature.

It was also a great time talking to all the researchers in Bosch RTC and listen to their perspective about technology and future. In one of the dinners, one of the researchers told us her rationale and decision of moving from a fast pace startup to Bosch. It paints a better picture when get to pick their brains on current and developing technologies as well as understand their human side of things.

The hilly San Francisco made e-Bikes the best form of transportation. We rode across the Golden Gate Bridge effortlessly passing by the Golden Gate Park. The infamous fog came in right after we reached the vista point but we managed to snap many obligatory tourist shots with the Bridge.

The additional tailwind given by Bosch system on the Haibike allowed me to take over professional bikers on the trail. "How did you do that?!", one particular biker dressed professionally shouted in disbelief when I, the skinny, untrained unfit kid in sweater and jeans, took over him going uphill. I can only muster a sinister smile while Karo apologetically said "sorry, he's on an eBike!". Well, now you know so go sell your kidney to get this crazily great eBike powered by Bosch!


Growing up with Hong Kong movies and dramas depicting the grandiosity and poise of Shanghai, I am just filled with anticipation to visit China. Ethnically Chinese, I crave to step on the land where my ancestors left for a greener pasture, at the same time imagine myself going through the footsteps of my great-grandparents. Thanks to BWE, Shanghai became my first encounter with China.


We were welcomed by skyscrapers flooding the land of Shanghai to the edge where your eyes can see. Tall apartments, well organized, house most of the people here. A small unit in most apartments can cost 1 Million US Dollar, no kidding. I can almost see the stories of children fighting for the heritage house from their parents, as mostly painted in Chinese soap dramas, playing in front of me when I stare at the buildings.

For most of the explorers, it was their first time in China. I had a great time explaining to them differences in mentality, culture and upbringing background in hopes of demystifying many stereotypes of the locals. YanRu of course felt like home as she is from HangZhou, a mere hour away from Shanghai.

The Chinese dinner, the hotpot with the Chinese students, the visit to Yu Garden, the random mister trying to take photos with us and the Chinese accent are highlights to most of the explorers. The Bosch HQ in China was humongous spanning more than 3 big buildings. IMG_20140801_204723 Looking at two Gwailous using the chopstick made my day.

Also, Shanghai World Financial Center (locally known as the bottle opener) has Bosch's speaker system in place!

Back to home sweet home South East Asia. Singapore is Malaysia's overachieving twin, always having more bragging rights in front of relatives. Even though my grandparents stay half an hour away from Singapore, I have only visited this (supposedly) world's second smallest island country once and had a pleasant experience.

The brief 1-night stayover meant that we had limited time to tour around. Tina our super babysitter did her magic again and got us landed on the night where it was Singapore National Day rehearsal. Sipping wine on top of Marina Bay Sands, watching the full rehearsal with the city skyline in front of us, we toast to our magnificent journey through 3 continents.

The next morning we got to Bosch's South East Asia HQ and got to know its involvement in Internet of Things, the touted next big thing. Of course all our hearts were waiting for our ride on the electrical vehicles. Not surprising, I fit into the back of Smart Fortwo comfortably. Now Katharina can drive around Germany with me in her car boot!

What differentiates electrical vehicles from conventional cars, aside from the obvious zero exhaust, is the acceleration. Without a gear box, an electric vehicle implements a linear acceleration. For example, the Nissan Leaf goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 11.5 seconds. We throttled and stepped on the gas pedal stretching the maneuvering capability and stability in the confines on Bosch Singapore. I had real fun but the staff sitting next to me showed his concerns about my driving ability vividly on his terrified expression. Sorry! :P

The end marks the beginning. Germany, where Robert Bosch started it all, was our last destination on this world trip. We head to Berlin and visited the Robert Bosch Stiftung - one of the leading German foundations that is known for its promotion of natural and social sciences. The first time I researched about Bosch, I was fascinated by how a Fortune 100 has 92% of its capital stock held by a non-profit foundation.

Sandra Breka from the Foundation gave us an introduction to the work that the foundation do, ranging from grant-making to operational projects in health, science and international relations. They even have their own hospital. I find it impressive that it contributes to many peace-making initiatives in conflict areas around the world, including those Bosch do not have a commercial presence.

Berlin has come up as one of the startup capitals in Europe with its bustling youth and technology scene, despite a war-ridden history just about 30 years ago. There is so much to learn from Germany about their rise to an arguably powerful world player in recent years. My tour around Berlin gave me a sense that Germans are willing to accept their horrible past and capitalize it as a catalyst for growth and acceptance. This is obvious from the international crowd presence in Berlin where you hear languages and accents from around the world, similar to metropolitan around the world.

Bosch World Experience gave me a view on the world of hardcore engineering and its global impacts. Without a doubt, many engineering wonders and advancements are done discreetly without the hoo and haas. Unlike sexier commercial products, Bosch strictly follows its motto of "invent for life", which has 2 meanings to it: invent for the advancement of human civilization, and products durable for a lifetime. This sometimes may lead to lesser media exposure, which may not expose the great work the company does. I have a better image of Bosch and that is also why I want to intern there to fully experience their working culture.

While the 6 of us Explorers got the lifetime chance to travel around the world, many do not have this privilege and I want to share my adventures with them too. Look out for blog posts coming up for each dedicated city soon!~

No comments:

Post a Comment

You better click the "like" button on top before you leave comment! :p