Article for Avançons No. 4 2014 CING Continental Europe

CING-CE Annual Meeting in Toulouse - the pink city

Toulouse was selected for the CING-CE annual meeting this year, very much because this gave us the opportunity to visit Airbus and to see the assembly of the A380 aircraft. With this as the main attraction and Frantisek’s new ideas for new activities we started the planning of the annual event to be held first weekend of October. To begin with our e-mail inquiries and bookings went smooth all the way until prepayments and confirmation of bookings. Here it showed again that you have to be good a French-speaker to get it the way you want. In some cases Gunilla had to be a French angry lady to sort out the last details.

Because of all issues during the last phases of planning I had no good feeling flying down to Toulouse on Thursday afternoon. Meeting Kicki and Ulf at the airport, and when getting out of the taxi at the hotel where Gunilla was enjoying the nice sunny whether welcoming us, a more pleasant feeling arrived. From the taxi we had a good view over parts of the city and could also in a way understand why it’s called the pink city, many buildings is made of “pinkish” brick. After installation in the Crowne Plaza a group of early arrivals took a first stroll through the business district and found a nice outdoor restaurant for dinner.

The get-together lunch on Friday, at the corner of the Place du Capitole gathered 28 alumni, some regular participants but also quite many new faces. This was the start of the very dense Friday program, already at 15.30 the bus picked us up for the Airbus visit. The Airbus plant is not very far away from the city centre, so soon we could register and get our visit badges. Airbus is keeping security high, but all participants had delivered there data in advance and soon the excellent English-speaking guide took us to the flight control from there the first flight ever of the A380 was guided. We managed to answer her questions on her presentation so we were allowed to enter the bus for the tour. From high up in the assembly hall we had a good overview of the assembly lines of the huge aircraft, although not being able to come into direct contact with the bird, they didn’t trust us that much.

As nobody really had the pocket-money with them to buy one of the first prototypes offered, the bus took us directly to the evening sports activates, organised by Frantisek to attract younger alumni. Some of us in the organising committee were a bit sceptical regarding our older members but it turned out that many of our oldest participants had selected go-kart driving over the alternative bowling. It looks like there is a Fangio, Prost or Schumacher in all of us. To strengthen us before the event we had dinner direct at the bowling lanes, a glass of wine and you are able to find the apex of any bend on the track. If that is a good option for bowling I doubt, anyhow it was good fun with some unexpected pirouettes as the speed increased after the first couple of laps.

The Saturday started with a touristic guided tour of Toulouse, either by foot or by Segway. Looking quit spectacular young as well as old wanted to try the Segway, even Sven E61 with two artificial hips and one knee tried the 2-wheeler but decided not to make the tour as he felt his balance not safe enough, so he continued practising his Nordic walking. Segway, being a strange vehicle, turned out to be quite easy to maneuver in an intuitive way, after few minutes of practice we were ready for the sightseeing tour. For lunch we had booked a boat on the Canal du Midi, taking us some kilometres along the canal and back again while serving traditional Toulousian food and of course good wine. The Chalmers Alumni Office invited to a beer on the way back to the hotel, as being the tradition.

The Crown Plaza Hotel hosted the annual meeting on Saturday evening. About 30 alumni had found their way to Crown Plaza to participate. The formal annual meeting paragraphs passed through in regular CING spirit now in English. The only point that brought up some discussion was regarding the language, some members talking for Swedish as Swedish is an important part of the Chalmers tradition, others felt that English was the better choice to cover all members. CING Gothenburg and Chalmers Alumni Office gave interesting information on actual subjects within CING and at Chalmers.

Christina Kicki Rindegård, board member in CING-CE since many years did not whish to candidate for re-election so we gave her a big hand and a small present to show our gratitude to Kicki for her contributions. The rest of the board members were willing to re-candidate for another year so the election could be finished in few minutes although with one vacancy.

The following gala dinner in a private room in the hotel restaurant this time brought up an old CING tradition: “Årgångarnas skål”. Our guest, Kjell Bengtsson from CING Småland-Blekinge-Öland had taken our youngest members, both masters without Swedish knowledge in hard language training because there is no English for that good old CING tradition. We found the right tone for “Liver är härligt…” and others to finish the day with a superb dinner.

On Sunday morning a bus picked us up and brought us to “The City of Space” just outside Toulouse, where we could see quite some original pieces of space equipment such as one of the training MIR-Space stations and a Sojus-capsule of the same kind still used to send people to the ISS and down again. A lunch at the hotel ended the program. Everything turned out the best even if I had my doubts to begin with.

Conny Claesconny Sundberg
President CING-CE