Study Trip Chicago day 9

The day started with our last breakfast at the hostel, so we could finally say goodbye to the bagels with peanut butter that we had to eat all week. We were picked up at the hostel by a luxurious bus with blue lights and a wooden floor, that was arranged by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). This is a huge facility that creates building standards, tests products and certifies them.

After the trip to UL, which was very silent, because most Mollier members were watching the inside of their eyelids, we were welcomed by Sean DeCrane and Theresa Nemeth. They gave us a short introduction to UL and what the program of the day was going to be. After putting on some nice blue helmets and a pair of goggles, we left to the fire safety facilities of UL. Here we saw the new smoke alarm lab that opened this year, where they test smoke detectors and alarms for residential and commercial purposes. At the moment they are conducting false alarm tests, because a lot of people turn the alarm off because of this. After that we went to another lab, where UL does commodity testing. They have a huge testing facility (100x100ft) with a moveable ceiling to test whether sprinkler systems work according to the design. We also saw their steiner tunnel, which they use to perform surface burn tests to assess how far the flames go over a surface. Youri had a very interesting question about the smell of the room, which Shaun explained was his body odor.

After the tour through the fire safety labs, we went back to the conference room we started in, for a Q&A session with Dwain Sloan. He told us about the challenges of UL for the next years; technology is outrunning the ability to make codes. Some examples are guaranteeing the fire safety of wooden high-rise structures, cannabis production and autonomous vehicles.

We then took the bus to another building at the UL campus, were they conduct fenestration tests. Before the tour, UL arranged a wide variety of different lunch boxes for us, which resulted in people almost fighting for their favorite choice. After the lunch (with delicious, America-sized cookies) Wayne Breighner started the tour with showing his office. After opening one of his closets, it turned out this led to a secret bathroom with shower. We then continued to the actual labs of UL Fenestration Services. Wayne first showed us how they test the failure of doors, which is done by simply opening and closing it 20,000 times. Luckily, he doesn’t have to do it manually. We then entered the thermal chamber that is used to determine the U-values of constructions. However, we had to evacuate the chamber after a gas leakage of one of our members. We moved on to some door safety tests, were UL tests how easily a door can be kicked in. We even got to take part in a heavy rainstorm simulation. UL did this by blowing a lot of water on a façade construction that we were standing behind. Luckily nobody got wet feet. At last, we even got to see a spectacular test of tornado resisting glass that was conducted by shooting a wooden beam onto the glass with a big cannon. The glazing however did not withstand the force of the wooden beam, which turned the test into some nice video material.

After the tour, we wanted to make a group picture at UL. However, Martijn and Ola were having a private moment in the secret bathroom of Wayne (of course not at the same time). Shaun of UL managed to make all Mollier members euphoric by telling that the party bus (or for some members sleeping bus) was able to bring us to Camp Sullivan, which meant we didn’t have to take lots of busses and trains to get there.

The trip to Camp Sullivan took us through the not so hilly countryside of Cook County. When we arrived, we were handed the key to a large cabin, which we immediately decorated by hanging the Mollier banner on the wall. Jantje, one of the Marcs and Remco went to Walmart to buy groceries, as we didn’t have any food or drinks yet. The rest went searching for wood to make a campfire and use our newly learned fire safety skills. The Walmart turned out to be enormous, so Jantje, Marc and Remco were lost several times and it took them quite some hours to find everything. Meanwhile at Camp Sullivan, all remaining Mollier members were starving and dehydrated. When the Uber car with all the groceries (and Jantje, Marc and Remco, but nobody seemed to care about that) arrived at the campsite, everybody stormed towards the car, screaming and cheering along the way.

The ladies and our Italian stallion Marcello took it upon themselves to prepare our dinner, which existed of some hotdogs and baked potatoes from the campfire. After dinner, the group seated themselves around the campfire to start a game of Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow. Just like at UL, we had another delay. This time due to Jantje and Gert-Jan, who were ‘doing the dishes’. It was a very intense game that led to a lot of frustrations, so afterwards we needed some relaxation time with refreshing drinks and a huge bucket of cheesy puffs. The next day was the first day that we could finally sleep in, so a small group saw this as an opportunity to remain seated around the campfire until 4 o’clock in the night.

– Written by Remco and Ruben –