TECS 2013: First Impression? Scale.

BusinessChinaGlobal PerspectiveTravelTECSStanford

I've been in China for less than a day and I'm still amazed by all I've seen. Besides the normative cultural differences between here and home, the thing that struck me most about Beijing has been scale. In the world of engineering, where population metrics often get thrown around carelessly, its easy to forget the magnitude of what you're dealing with. So, as soon as we flew down low enough to see Beijing, I was amazed by the sheer number of identical buildings and the sprawling landscape filled with civil structures. I was further shocked on our way to the hotel when my eyes were greeted by rows and rows of massive apartment complexes, some of them larger than any I have seen in my lifetime. Every major street provided a view for what seemed like miles, and in each were looming, identical residence complexes. 

Our tour guide mentioned that the population was around 22 million. Twenty Two Million. Its a number that I know too well from the side of my education wrapped up in issues of air and water pollution, but its also something that really only started to make sense in light of what I was seeing before my eyes. That's more than five times the population of Chicago, twice that of New York. There was bumper to bumper traffic worse than anything I've experienced in LA, and it was only a Sunday. If my first few minutes weren't evidence enough -- I was in for a real change in the way I viewed the world.

*TECS 2013 is short for my adventures with Stanford University's TECS two week immersive business and technology program in China. Over the next two weeks I am travelling from Beijing to Shanghai and meeting with incredible businesses along the way. All posts from the program will be tagged.