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  • @Stanford University

The Bay Area part one

On the 7th of March we began our way to Sunnyvale, a city in Santa Clara County, which is one of the major cities that make up the Silicon Valley. Our first stop on the way to Sunnyvale was Kramer Junction – one of the largest solar energy generating facilities in the world. Kramer Junction is one of the nine solar power plants in California's Mojave Desert, where insolation is among the best available in the United States.

Next day we woke up in Sunnyvale, ready to start our 2 weeks of visiting companies. Our first stop was Mozilla -  a global community of people working together since 1998 to build a better internet. While the building looks quite usual from the outside, the offices are something completely different. Mozilla offices are very trendy, open and friendly. You can feel the working environment is very positive and creative. Employees can even bring their pets to work, which is great. We met with Amie, who showed us around. We even got some great Mozilla T-shirts and some other great Mozilla things.

Next stop was Foxit  Corporation, a provider of solutions for reading, creating, organizing, and securing PDF documents, founded in 2001. We had a little trouble finding the offices, but when we arrived, we were greeted with a sign: Welcome Slovenian students, which we thought was very nice. We would like to thank to all of the people working at Foxit, for their kindness and great presentation. And special thanks to Erik Bryant, who helped us alot – thank you for all of your time and energy, we really appreciate it!!!

On Wednesday we went to see Stanford, a private University around which Silicon Valley was built. We were greeted by a retired Slovenian electrical engineer - dr. Zvonko Fazarinc, who used to work for HP. We had an interesting lecture given by dr.Richard Dasher (the director of CIS) about Stanfords cooperation with industry etc. Later we coincidentally ran into some students, which were kind enough to show us around some parts of the campus. Of course it was nice to see it from student perspective as well, and if maybe you are reading this, we would like to thank you again. We were able to sit in a great Bioengineering lecture with post-graduate students and compare it to our lectures, which are quite a bit less practically oriented even though the material is not that different.

Next day in our busy schedule, we visited one of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley – a multinational corporation Cisco Systems. It develops and sells useful electronics, communication technologies – software and hardware. We were greeted by mr. Vlada Marjanović (Senior Director, Market Development Advanced Services ), who studied at Univesity of Belgrade, Serbia and later worked in Belgium, before he came to the US. He showed us Cisco executive center with offices ment for conference calls and exhibition of the latest technology by Cisco, which we were able to test. We received audio guides, which led us around the center, explaining everything. We were especially happy  to have been able to test VoIP telephony - by calling home of course.

Next stop on our way was Intuitive Surgical, a corporation founded in 1995. Intuitive Surgical develops and successfully sells robotic surgical systems (the DaVinci surgical system) ment for non-invasive surgery, which can even be performed remotely at great distances using robotic manipulators. This kind of system costs approximately 1.5 million $, and it is used for surgery of the soft tissues (adult and pediatric use in general surgery, urological, gynecological, cardio procedures etc.). The most common procedure performed with the da Vinci Surgical System is radical prostatectomy, normally performed as a treatment for prostate cancer. We were able to try the system (in a safe environment of course) and we were impressed by its quality, simplicity of use and great  interacitve environment.

The day that followed, was the 11th day of our trip. We left our motel and with a fully loaded van went to look for Facebook, which was founded in 2004. The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg developed the social network while he was  a student at Harvard University. We expected to find a big blue&white sign »Facebook«, but there is only a regular street sign indicating the street name and number. Facebook keeps everything simple and minimal, as it already has enough of the attention and pressure coming from the media.

Later that day we arrived to Google (Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Paige and Sergey Brin) campus, which is really impressive. A campus with gym, pool, volleyball court, many different caffes , pool tables, free bikes for employees it really looks like a great place to work at. Working environment is similar to the one at Mozilla – relaxed and friendly. It is no wonder the company is very high on the »best companies to work for« list of Forbes magazine. Google uses a motivational technique called »Innovation Time off« - employees can use 20% of their working hours to work on their own projects- things that interes them.

We met with Žiga Mahkovec, a Slovenian who graduated at University of Ljubljana (Faculty of computer and information science) and later got a job at Google. He has been here for 4 years now and he is not thinking about leaving. Žiga is one of six Slovenians at Google – they frequently hang out and we got to meet one of his friends Ana. After buying almost every single thing they had at Google store, we left towards the windy San Francisco.

That's  a quick summary of our second week in the US. Sorry for the spelling mistakes and the delay- we are trying to post the blog as fast as possible.

© november 2010, Društvo študentov računalništva in elektrotehnike - elektrošok, produkcija: Elektrošok | izvedba: Damjan Cvetan