By Brittany Lopez–Situated a on a sprawling campus approximately one hour outside the center of downtown Houston, Baker Hughes’ offers newcomers their ID tags and a bottle of water. The morning is just beginning on what will be a three-hour tour of the state of the art facilities. The Cameron School of Business students (along with their two chaperoning professors) are lead into a pristine, modernized conference room – each place setting prearranged with another bottle of water and a leather-bound note book. As part of the Celts Exploring Business group, I felt privileged to be on this tour. I knew that Baker Hughes would be inspiring and impressive, but I was stunned by their innovations and dedication to excellence.
The orientation began with an explanation of what they do at this particular Baker Hughes’ facility: they are one of many research and development arms of the major corporation – this is where new products are researched, tested, tested again, and eventually sold to the highest bidder for use in the field. The pressure is on for the men and women engineers of Baker Hughes because their products are not just expected to last; they are expected to maintain perfect working condition for at least a decade (if not more).
Passed the conference room (as we found out) exist various labs where engineers of all backgrounds (chemical, mechanical, electrical) conduct their impressive daily work. Tests are run at all hours of the day (and night) with shifts being scheduled around testing needs. The labs lead into a massive facility where storage is located – bins upon bins are filled with new projects in brown paper bags that Baker Hughes’ host of engineers have come up with. The sheer amount of new product potential is startling (and not to mention a little intimidating).
Where the Magic Happens
Their warehousing system opens out into a massive bay with ceilings seeming as high as the sky and as wide as quite a few houses sewn together. This room is their testing center where all the magic happens. To the right, eight bays go both horizontally back or vertically down where high-pressure (literally) and lengthy tests take place. The other is an open floor plan with various tools and implements necessary for testing the fillings, piping, and connections of their daily business – looking for minor improvements to the system they use.
Lastly, we ended the tour at what may easily be seen as the coolest place in the establishment – the 3D printing room where both plastic and gypsum models are molded so that the engineers can manipulate them prior to committing them to cold, hard steel.
Overall, the experience at Baker Hughes was both inspiring and enlightening. It showed a process of research and development that most business majors (such as myself) do not often get to see. The facilities reflect a cutting-edge, well organized, and fostering environment where creating new ideas and products seem almost easy -almost.