Our Visit With Dassault

Day 12 (Monday)

Monday morning, I enjoyed another breakfast of bread with Nutella, as well as meat and cheese. Once everyone was gathered and ready, we took the metro and a bus to Dassault, which was about 45 minutes away. Dassault was enormous, and had very modern-looking buildings, both inside and out.

The presentations at Dassault were quite informative; even after doing a presentation this spring about the company, it was almost all  new to me. They presented on a number of topics, most memorable of which was the open car challenge, which is a challenge to the open source community to design a car using their software. Although I do not know enough about cars to participate, this is an intriguing idea and I thought it was a great example of how their company’s product can be used as a tool to connect the global community. The presenter discussed the idea behind open source, and mentioned how collective knowledge has tremendous potential.

We were able to experience a number of hands-on demonstrations, ranging from a drivable model of an SUV powered by a computer and controlled with an Xbox controller to a network of computers in which avatars explore a virtual 3D museum and interact with each other.  They also took us into a room in which two of the walls in the corner as well as the floor were projected upon, and an operator who was wearing special glasses could use a gun-shaped controller with a joystick to move around and interact with the environment. The 3D renderings were very realistic, and while the graphics were not stunning it was by far the most realistic representation of a 3D environment I have ever seen.

As we were leaving Dassault, news that Dr. Tront had been informed of a volcanic eruption in Iceland spread quickly through the group. A rumor also spread that he said we would probably be stranded in Paris. Whether this rumor was somehow fabricated within two minutes of leaving or whether he actually started this rumor for his own entertainment is unclear to this day.

When we got back to Paris, I exchanged the last of my American dollars for euros, and then we went shopping for baguettes. That night we hung out in the hotel, unable to believe that we were already in our fourth and final country.