The colorful, fragrant and refreshing spring is in full bloom in Changping district, 50 kilometers from downtown Beijing, but 27-year-old precision instrument engineering student Shao Meng, sporting a white cotton T-shirt and goggles, is busy in his 60-square-meter flat, seemingly more fascinated by the task of debugging the operating system of a "climbing robot".
That's the kind of intensity, focus and dedication you will likely see in specialists across China these days, as the nation accelerates its drive to upgrade its manufacturing sector, in line with the central government's "Made in China 2025" strategy launched in 2015.
The grand plan aims to transform the country from the world's factory into a world-leading high-tech manufacturer of top-end products.
Think automation, smart and net-connected factories, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, big data, electric vehicles, driverless cars, so on.
Shao, a Tsinghua University student, has been on the climbing robot project for over 14 months now. His job is to provide safe and efficient testing-and-maintenance services for over 100,000 wind power generator towers around China.
"I love automation and have the full support of my tutors who are all top scholars," Shao said. "I dream of creating something great."
Shao is among X-Lab's 116 teams dedicated to technology and intelligent manufacturing or IM. X-Lab is the startup incubator of Tsinghua, which houses China's best scholars in the fields of mechanics, engineering and computer sciences.
Mao Donghui, executive director of X-Lab, said there were no such programs even two years ago. The national plan changed all that in 2015.
She attributed the current boom in IM programs to significant increase in financial support, government policy and public attention.