From Innovation to Enduring Tradition in California Tour

Pupils from the Computing department and the Design, Engineering and Technology department visited tech and industry giants in Silicon Valley before travelling down the California coast to LA over the Half Term holiday.

The DET team focused their interests on manufacturers such as the McRoskey Mattress factory, where the family owned business has been designing and manufacturing their own mattresses since 1899. They also toured the production facilities of Jelly Bean and Budweiser, and for some contrast, SKS Die Casting, the original Corbin Motorcycle Seats Factory in Hollister, ‘birthplace of the American biker’, and Fenders Guitars in LA.

The computing group started their tour at the Computer History Museum where they got to play with punch cards and other historic computer apparatus, and also took in the Intel Museum. California technology firms are famous for their open source office spaces and employee perks, and visits to the offices of Mozilla and Google were a revelation with their slick designer furniture and fun ‘break-out’ ball pools, and sleep pods. They toured SmugMug, Box and Facebook, and spent time at a B8ta store, where they were able to test all the latest gadgets on display, including an Oculus Rift. At a brief rest stop, they enjoyed the novelty of tweeting at a public Wi-Fi hub by a statue of Nikola Tesla.

The group joined together for a visit to the Tesla headquarters itself, which included a ride in the development version of one of their cars. After two security checks, they were then admitted to NASA’s supercomputing facility at Moffett Field, where they saw the world’s largest wind tunnel, Pleiades, the sixth most powerful supercomputer in the world and one of only two working quantum computers.

Some ‘non-business’ tourist visits took in Alcatraz, a LA Clippers game (with Mariah Carey), a stroll down Venice beach and an evening visit to Griffith Park Observatory.

The final day of a fantastically full trip, saw a visit to the place where it all began – UCLA to see the first node of the Internet. There are already plans in the making for internship applications.