Lab Talk: Seven-Day Learning Journey to Silicon Valley

Written by
Lisa Scherner
16 Mai 2017

Our friend Rainer Bareiß took a week off and took a 7-day trip to Silicon Valley – a learning journey. In his professional life, Rainer is responsible for sub-division turnkey construction at Ed. Züblin AG and is a driving force of digital transformation at Ed. Züblin. Rainer has initiated innovative projects like the Z-Box, a modular charging and rental station for e-bikes and pedelecs in a CAD-CAM fabricated wood construction. Outside of work, Rainer practices what he preaches, filling his home – a “passive house” – with sensor meshes and setting up machine-learning frameworks for processing the data.

For his week-long excursion to the Valley, he stuffed his calendar to the gills with appointments. He met inspiring people and visited places like Apple’s headquarters, NASA, Stanford, the Singularity University, Palo Alto, Google and many more.

Bild: Bay Area Rapid Transit

His trip was also motivated by a desire to change his perspective and by a search for inspiration for the buildings of the future. He quickly noticed that, in Silicon Valley, no one is an alien. What is important, however, is what you have to contribute – otherwise, you’ll be winnowed out. In addition to workshops by Sebastian Thrun (the founder of Coursera) and Astro Teller about Deep Learning and AI, he enjoyed the contagious atmosphere of the people living there.

On the other hand, it’s a valley of contradictions. The contrast of multimillionaires living next to homeless people was unexpected. More than 7,000 homeless people live in Santa Clara County – the fifth-highest homeless population per capita in the country.

Create connected UX

After returning from the trip, his conclusion was: we too have a great opportunity to adopt the spirit of the people there in how we think and work! We should stop talking only about the technical aspects and put the user first. In Silicon Valley, brilliant minds from around the world share their ideas. The dialogue of this “critical mass” is like nuclear fusion; the energy it releases is spellbinding. Also one of the learnings from the AI startup conference was: „People in the Silicon Valley create the future by conversation“. A typical pattern in conversations was, to ask your dialogue partner a lot of questions about his/her current project or the topic he/she was talking about until you really understood it.

After the talk, we had a lively discussion about the spirit of Silicon Valley and how we can adopt it in some ways here in Stuttgart. Thank you, Rainer, for this inspiring Lab Talk.

Case Studies