[FOUNTAIN]Flying dreamsThe Japanese carmaker Honda successfully flight-tested its new corporate jet. Named HondaJet, the sleek lightweight aircraft was photographed gracefully gliding through the blue sky.
Honda is not just another carmaker. The name of the company in Japanese is not Honda Motors, but Honda Giken Kogyo, the latter two words meaning “technology institute.”
Honda researches the technology of transportation. Aside from automobiles, Honda produces motorcycles, bicycles, boat engines and aircraft. The company also has a subsidiary that makes a full line of engines for power generators, snowplows, and lawn mowers. It recently demonstrated an innovative walking robot.
Soichiro Honda, the founder, began as a automobile mechanic, but he had always been an engineer who lived his dreams.
After founding Honda in 1948, his ultimate dream was the “domination of the world.” Determined to make his name, Mr. Honda entered an international bicycle race in 1954 and won. The victory gave him confidence, and Honda bicycles became an international brand. In 1962, Honda manufactured its first automobile.
Mr. Honda was considered daring and reckless. But he equipped himself with technology that could back him up. He once boasted that a spider’s web might be the only thing he could not make.
His devotion to technology verged on madness. He said that an engineer who could not make good products was a failure. When he set a goal to make the best engines, he purchased machine tools worth over thirty times his company’s capital and almost put the company in danger of bankruptcy.
Mr. Honda was a perfectionist. He could not control his temper when he was not satisfied with the outcome of a project. He was often seen throwing a wrench, and he even beat some of his engineers. But the employees were fascinated by his passion and stayed on. At the same time, Mr. Honda emphasized a liberal, cheerful work environment. He asked the employees to work for themselves instead of for the company. A happy engineer is productive, he said.
HondaJet is a product of imagination, creativity and technology. While Koreans avoid engineering, Japanese engineers have flown their dreams.
by Nahm Yoon-ho
The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.