February 7, 2008
Still on the plane from Texas to Kentucky. I’m sitting alone, which is a plus, since I doubt coach airline seats are made for people that are 6 feet tall. Pretty clear day today; we’re cruising at whatever altitude and I can clearly make out the ground, which is nice.
I didn’t really think much about this now, but the weather in San Antonio was incredible. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right.
It’s going to be cold in Kentucky… damnit.
Toyota North America Facilities Conference, Day 2
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas (TMMTX)
San Antonio, Texas
Well, this day started off pretty well. Same free, unhealthy breakfast, and then an interesting presentation or two about manufacturing plant issues.
In the breaks we’ve had during the conference, I’ve been able to think up some technical topics to write about in my blog, so look forward to that. I’m sure whoever reading this is thrilled.
After the initial presentations, it was a day of extremes for me. I saw, in the same day, the most incoherent presentation I’ve ever seen, as well as the longest presentation, possibly ever.
For the most incoherent, it requires a bit of background. The Japanese portion of the Toyota is referred to as TMC, or the Toyota Motor Corporation. Here in the United States, the company is split into two entities, TMS, or Toyota Motor Sales, and TEMA, or Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North America (who I work for).
TMC had a presence at the conference, and two presentations were given. Again, TMC is Japanese, which means that the majority of the employees there do not have English as a first language. The presentation that I am going to focus on was the first presentation given.
First sign that something was awry: PowerPoint presentation was not in English
I do not know what kind of time frame was placed on this presentation, but it seems like a kind of cop-out to me. The vast majority of people in the audience were not Japanese speakers, which completely undermined the presentation. Even now, I have no clue whatsoever what the presentation was about. I seriously tried following the slides, but understanding something that you can’t read is rather difficult.
Second issue: The presenter was not an English Speaker, and the translator was not much better
My next point comes with the person giving the presentation. This TMC member did not speak English (at least, not well enough to present anything), so another TMC member was acting as translator. However, the translator’s English was… subpar to say the least. I know there were much better English/Japanese speakers present at the conference, so why this combination was chosen is beyond me.
The most plausible explanation I’ve heard is that it is a matter of honor for the TMC employees; that the presenter was the guest of the translator. I know there are massive cultural differences between the United States and Japan, but this seems like something that should’ve been planned much better. The presentation could have been the uber, end all plan for Toyota to demolish all competition, but I will never know, since I followed approximately none of it.
The other extreme presentation I heard was the longest presentation I believe I was ever in. If I had to guess, I’d say it lasted for about 4 hours, and that’s a very conservative estimate.
I’m not going to mention what it was about, since that’d probably be grounds for termination from TEMA. I believe that, like the TMC presentation, the length of this presentation was due in part to poor planning. It was originally supposed to take an hour, but it ran for around 4 times that. This kind of thing makes you really think of the necessity to thoroughly plan out an important presentation or meeting. Sure, everyone’s gone into a presentation completely unprepared and has just winged it; I know I have; and sometimes that goes well. However, sometimes it goes very, very badly. I think Anthony Bourdain said it the best on his show No Reservations when he said something to the effect of: “If you spin the wheel long enough, you eventually come up with double zero.” **
The day ended with some more informative presentations that I found interesting, such as one on Risk Management and insurance on some of Toyota’s plants. I guess you can never really get away from your roots.
At night, most of the facilities attendees went out on the town, or more explicitly, went to the San Antonio Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is a canal that runs through the city and has a variety of nightlife (read: bars) for people to kill some time. A group of us went out, got a good meal, and then call it a night.
Overall, the conference was a good time. I picked up a lot of information, and it was just a good experience for me. San Antonio seems like a nice enough city, although we weren’t there long enough for me to get a proper feeling for the place. Overall, I can honestly say that the people really made the conference what it is. While that may sound redundant, I just find it so interesting to see the characters that came from various locations across North America. That made it worth the trip alone.
Oh, and there were 19 audible cell phone rings today. Incredible.
** This quote may not be exactly correct, but I’m confidant that it is close enough for the point that was given. If I can find the original, I’ll change it
February 7, 2008
I know I may be posting this rather late, but it’s been really difficult to write entries during the conference. The days have been really full of presentations from a variety of people, and they have (for the most part) been very interesting. I’m currently on the flight back from Texas to Kentucky, and I have some time now when I’m not really tired to write something.
Below is my entry concerning the first full day of the conference
Toyota North America Facilities Conference, Day 1
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas (TMMTX)
San Antonio, Texas
The first day of the conference was quite a busy day. The conference began at 7:30 AM with a free, hilariously unhealthy breakfast. However unhealthy it may have been, the price was right, being free and all.
At 8, the presentations for the conference began, with mixed results. It’s funny the little things you pick up from presentations. For example, I counted 18 audible cell phone rings during the day (not counting overly loud vibration motors). For the record, at 21, I was by far the youngest person at the conference. Maybe it’s silly for me to notice a thing like that (I started counting in the morning after 3 phones went off in a 5 minute period), but it just seems to be incredibly disrespectful to the presenters.
Seriously. At least fake interest. I know not all of the presentations were the best, but I did make a conscious effort on each to at least pick up something useful.
Actually, I think the most useful bit of information I picked up was learning how Reverse Osmosis water filters worked, at least at a high level.
The morning was mostly informative meetings about the various workgroups that are a part of Facilities Engineering, such as Major Breakdown and Compressed Air groups. The end of the day, however, consisted mostly of request presentations about help with projects and issues at various plants. Most of this stuff is probably uninteresting to the majority of people outside of Toyota, but the presenters were quite good, and the presentations had a good amount of pictures. I like pictures.
This night also had an official dinner, which was paid for by the company (I think; it was paid by someone who wasn’t me). The food was acceptable; salad, London broil and some kind of fish (Mahi Mahi I believe). The drink system was… different. Instead of an open bar like the usual case (at least, from what I’ve heard), we were issued two “drink tickets” that could be exchanged for drinks. Any drink after that needed to be paid for out of the person’s pocket.
I ended up with a total of 5 drink tickets at the end of the night. Why is not important.
Speaking of drinking, and this is what I’ll close on here, some of the employees down here could make college students blush. I am, by no means, a heavy drinker, but I do like to think I’ve got a decent tolerance to the stuff. Some of these people, though, could probably drink me and a few friends under the table and wake up with no hangover whatsoever.
February 7, 2008
My luggage got searched by the TSA. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if they wouldn’t have put a little flyer saying they did. I don’t exactly pack in the most… organized manner, but still. I took a picture of the flyer, so I’ll post that here if I can.
The hotel we’re in is called the “El Tropicano Riverwalk” and is a Holiday Inn hotel. It’s not really in the best part of town, and it’s a decent walk to any of the Riverwalk nightlife. I think it’s enough, though. I’ve stayed nights in worse places, so I have no real complaints. Apparently, many of my coworkers have issues with their rooms, but I must’ve gotten lucky. I took some pictures of the room also, and I’ll post them if I can.
Nothing really going on tonight, just mostly getting ready of the beginning of the conference tomorrow. Apparently, a bunch of TEMA people are going out as a group soon to get some dinner, and they invited me to come. They’re leaving soon, so I have to cut this entry rather short. I’ll write more when I can, but right now, it’s time to go out and get some food with some coworkers.
Who wants to stay cooped up in a room anyway?
February 4, 2008
Hi everyone. I know that right around Christmas time, I said that I would write more in my blog. In all honesty, I just haven’t felt the urge to write anything. Sure, interesting things have happened to me since my last entry, but I doubt many of you out there really care about that.
To all of those people that read my Amazon.com interview posts and commented, I sincerely thank you. It makes me feel good that my posts here have helped some people with their interviews and possibly even their careers. That sort of thing validates what I’ve done here, and it makes me feel like I’ve actually done something. So, again, if any of you out there are reading this, I sincerely thank you all.
To anyone out there who is reading this on Facebook, feel free to check out the homepage of this blog at https://gatacoma.wordpress.com. I’d appreciate any comments you have to be posted there, since it’s better than the RSS import that Facebook has implemented.
I’m currently on a flight from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport that is destined for San Antonio, Texas. The group that I am co-oping with at TEMA (Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North America) has a conference at the Toyota plant in San Antonio, generally referred to by the group (and company) as TMMTX, or Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas.
I’m hoping for a fun trip. The trip lasts from today (Monday, February 4, 2008) to Thursday, February 7, 2008, at which point the group will be flying back to Kentucky.
My purpose there is, for the most part, to observe and take in as much of the event as possible. Being a co-op, I have nothing to present that is of any real concern to the majority of the people at the conference, but I really am looking forward to the other presentations that will be put on. Should be a new experience, at the very least.
I hope to take this blog in a more technology-oriented direction. I’ve done little recently to make this blog more than just a blurb about myself, and I’ll try to change that. I want to make it a bit of a hybrid, if you will. I could fail miserably, but hey, it’s worth a shot.
That’s really all I have to say right now. I thank all of you that actually spend some time and look through my entries here. Feel free to comment; I’d really appreciate it.
Take it easy, everyone.
July 26, 2007
In an attempt to cover the travesty that was my attempt at humor in the last post, I am going to post some information about my co-op here in Kentucky.
This job’s actually gotten pretty good as time went on. After the initial “I can’t do this” phase, it’s been pretty good here. That’s not to say this job is easy by any means; it’s probably the hardest computer science related thing I’ve done, but I think I’ve become a much better coder. And I’ve learned two new languages, so I’m going to say I came out on top on this one, knowledge wise.
Here’s some knowledge I picked up from my time here, that hopefully help people out who haven’t had a co-op yet.
1. You may or may not get a ton of work to do.
In this respect, I’m going to say I got lucky. I’m constantly hammered with various projects and maintenance, and this makes the time during the workday fly. However, from what I’ve heard from other co-ops is that this is rather rare, and you may be getting a good amount of work completely unrelated to your major.
I mean work like, making copies. Crappy stuff that a CE, CS, or EE major wouldn’t really want to do.
It’s luck of the draw there, honestly, could go either way.
2. Meeting new people is generally hard to do.
I like to think of myself as a generally social person, but I’ve met hardly anyone that I’d want to hang out with here in KY. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I’m the youngest person in my group, probably by at least 15 years. Also, there is no real communication between the co-ops here. There’s a council or something, but it’s a lot of talk and no action, so I’ve given up on that.
That could be just here, but I’d imagine this occurs other places as well.
3. Enjoy yourself.
I’ve seen this a bunch. People working through their lunches, not taking any breaks, staying late on Fridays, and working on stuff at home.
Don’t do that.
Seriously, my time here has been such a change of pace from the breakneck pace back at school. I can return to my apartment and just forget about work for the evening. It’s incredible. No homework, just relaxing and enjoying myself. I know I’m going to lose that during school, and I’ll miss it.
This isn’t saying to slack off. I work very, very hard during the workweek and I stay overtime when I need to. But just don’t overdo it.
That’s all I really have for now. I’m thinking of taking my blog in a different direction than it’s been in the past and commenting on current events or the like. I figure there’s a better chance people’ll read that then to hear me simply talking about my life. Just a thought. If anyone has any suggestions or topics they’d like me to give a word about, feel free to ask!
July 26, 2007
So, I may have lied about posting more in my blog.
My bad. I swear I’ll try to get more in. But no promises.
I was thinking today and I wanted to make a new ‘feature’ on my blog, and call it new rules. I thought of it when something stupid happened nearby to me up here, and I said to myself “Alright, new rule….”. So, I wanted to give it a shot and see how badly it tanks. Here we go.
New rule. If you don’t use your turn signal at all, anyone put into possible danger or annoyance should be allowed to pull that person out of their car and….. go ahead and finish this one yourself.
New rule. Mike Rowe, of the Discovery Channel, is all that is man. No exceptions, accept no substitutions.
New rule. Quit trying to do a burnout every time you leave the damn parking lot. It makes you look like a moron. Especially since you’re driving a jacked-up truck.
New rule. Hot Fuzz is a freaking sweet movie, and British comedy is funny.
New rule. I need to think of better rules for the next time I do this.
I do apologize for the above. I swear I had better ideas for it, I just couldn’t remember any ideas for it. Well, any good ones.
And that’s it for this post. I’ll make more, I swear.
June 18, 2007
I’ve been in Kentucky for about 2 and a half weeks now, and I’ve come to a conclusion
Turn signal use in Kentucky is strictly optional.
That aside, it’s been quite a trip so far. If you haven’t been keeping score, I’m currently on Co-op for Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing in Erlanger, KY. I work as a VB.Net, SQL, and ASP.NET developer for the Facilities Engineering group. I’ve learned an incredible amount about VB and SQL, and ASP is more or less an oversight that’s built into Visual Studio, Microsoft’s primary IDE (and only one I know of).
It’s difficult and time consuming, but it’s interesting and the time flies when I do it, for better or for worse. I have a “mentor” of sorts in the past co-op, another student from RIT. Which is cool. He’s helped me a lot, and it’s allowed be to progress very quickly in learning the new languages.
Got my own apartment here, which is cool. But it also brings up another point: I know approximately no one here. I know the other co-op in my group, but honestly that’s about it. Which sucks. I need to meet people, which I find hard in this setting.
Oh, and I recently came into ownership of an Xbox 360, along with a subscription to Xbox Live gold. If you play, feel free to message me with your gamertag. We’ll get something going.
Finally, I know I haven’t posted in awhile. I’ve been very busy, but all of you out there who regularly check this blog, all none of you, I’ll try to update this more regularly. I promise.
And for Christ’s sake, use your turn signal.