Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Today we had a field trip to the Washington Post printing plant in College Park. We took the bus from campus to the Post.
They have a turtle sculpture! Fifty of these turtles were decorated in 2006 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the University of Maryland charter. They were sold at auction in October 2006, and this is where one of them ended up!
Jim Shirlen, a retired printer who worked at the Washington Post for more than 30 years, showed us a video about the newspaper and then showed us around the plant. The newsprint manager, Rex Potts, also talked to the group and came with us on the tour. We saw four gigantic printing presses (made by Mitsubishi!), each 5 stories high and 160 feet long (more than half the length of a football field). Each press weighs over 750 tons and can print, cut, and fold 18 complete newspapers per second. Huge rolls of newsprint (paper for newspapers) are brought by train from Canada (we saw the railroad cars and tracks right inside the plant!) Robots are programmed to load and unload the rolls of newsprint. When the presses are running, it must be an amazing sight. They don't give any tours when the presses are running, though, because they make too much noise; you wouldn't be able to hear what the guide is saying.
After lunch, we had two hours in the lab. First we worked on the blogs and then we had our first chat at Tapped In. It was fun!