China Focus: Manufacturing hub fostering creativity in age of automation

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-26 09:04:38|Editor: Liangyu
Video PlayerClose

GUANGZHOU, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Chen Shaopeng carefully draws golden roosters, mandarin ducks, and luxuriantly colored peonies on a piece of paper, not with paint, but with jam.

The 20-year-old chef is trying to demonstrate his culinary skills and how human ability will always be superior to that of a machine.

"I've never seen a robot cook before, but I've heard of them prepare or serve dishes. No matter what, the value of a chef is about creativity and originality. That's hard to beat," Chen said.

Chen said a robot cook might perform just as well as he does in cutting a chunk of tofu into ultra-thin slices, but there is no way it can develop a personal style.

"It takes years of training and learning from masters to develop my own style. My goal is to work as a chef at a five-star hotel," said the student at the Culinary School at Shunde Polytechnic.

Robots may be good at tasks such as making hamburgers, but they have not become good enough to work in haute cuisine, Chen and his fellow students said.

As the world becomes technologically driven, China's manufacturing hub Guangdong is reforming its education system to train talent to cope with the age of automation in which robots start to replace workers.

Guangdong has 694 vocational schools with 2.23 million students. Many schools are changing their curriculum to deal with the transition.

Gan Muyi, chief of the culinary school, said they are focused on fostering students' creativity to meet the increasingly diverse cuisine market.

At the Shunde Liangqiuju Vocational & Technical School, students who study 3D-printing have to learn interdisciplinary knowledge in model building, digital control, design and assembly.

School vice principal Zhao Ruqi said they have integrated previously isolated courses to teach students the knowledge they need to work in smart manufacturing.

"Machines are replacing people. It is a strong trend of the times. These days, it's not enough for students to master one type of technology or be good at one step of a manufacturing process. We are being forced to make changes," he said.

Guangdong started to reform its manufacturing industry five years ago. In the city of Dongguan, from 2014 to 2017, a total of 38.6 billion yuan (5.6 billion U.S. dollars) was invested in automation, which reduced the need for 200,000 workers, statistics show.