Traditionally, the students business informatics of UHasselt organise a biennial trip to visit leading-edge technology companies around the world. This year, our group had the pleasure to visit the Intel facilities in Dublin. For sure, Intel did a wonderful job in having us. The staff showed real commitment and organised a very interesting day filled with talks, demonstrations and tours.
The early parts of the day were reserved for talking about the past, present and future of the very thing Intel has conquered the world with: micro-processors. Around noon, the main topic of interest revolved around Intel’s impressive facilities. At the end of the day, focus shifted towards the Internet of Things, the unseen force that is driving the world to the future. Interaction and questions were warmly encouraged by the speakers and our students showed real eagerness to weigh in on the issues. To many’s delight, generous lunch and coffee breaks were foreseen in between the sessions.
More importantly, the talks were alternated with more active sessions. The staff demonstrated several leading-edge real-world applications, where Intel had been directly or indirectly involved in the implementation. We could reveal more details here, but then we would have to kill you. We’ll leave you with the pictures to tell a thousand words on our behalf.
Also on the program was a tour around the server rooms. The tour guided us through the reality of the everyday problems when maintaining data storage and processing power for daily operations. Despite having a complete trust in the responsibility and professionalism of the students, the teaching team was slightly relieved to leave the server room without having to witness a system failure in real-time.
Even more impressive was the tour around the production facilities, where Intel granted us the rare privilege to witness large parts of the production process of micro-chips. In awestruck humility, we admired the level of sophistication that is achieved when turning sand into enormous processing power on such absurdly miniature surfaces. It is almost ironical that we humans cannot help but feel very small compared to the miniscule wonder of technology that is the modern day micro-chip.
In the end, we are all very grateful to Intel for their warm welcome and exquisitely organized event. The day provided plenty of information and food for thought. Unstoppable evolutions like the Internet of Things shape our world and offer interesting intellectual challenges that, hopefully, one day our students will help to resolve. How can the Internet of Things improve our living standard? How can we technologically enable the Internet of Things? What are the architectures, the facilities and the business models of the future? How do we deal with social and ethical issues and guarantee security and privacy? In what way will the economy be reshaped and what will be the role of our current-day workforce in this economy? What jobs will be created? What abilities and skills will be required from the workforce and (how?) can they be taught? And, ultimately, will the Internet of Things bring all of us together or will it instead amplify the polarized and tribal divisions and lack of mutual understanding that is currently ruling our world?
The questions are dazzling, but the future cannot be stopped. It is our collective duty to foster it in the service of us all.
The entire trip was set in the scenic city of Dublin. With its friendly inhabitants and almost-affordable supply of beverages, it truly is a marvellous place for a city trip. We really enjoyed the evenings, the sightseeing and the atmosphere. A special mention should be made to the friendly and laidback nature of the city, a trait that indeed is often hard to find in other European capitals. We would like to warmly recommend it for your next holiday. You can be assured that you will not be disappointed.
For certain, our students had an interesting and entertaining stay. Most of them outstayed the teaching team to acquire additional knowledge on Dublin’s culture. We are confident that they executed that last quest effectively and with dignity. And even if you claim to have video footage which would prove an alternative truth, the teaching team will loyally deny it ever happened.