Guest Post by Ian Duchene, Plastics Engineering Technology major
No matter how vivid the photos or descriptive the lecture, there’s nothing quite like seeing and experiencing another country in person. And, in today’s increasingly global business climate, it’s vital that students be versed in the culture and business practices of international partners. There is much to be learned from seeing how others do it. That’s why, every year, students in the Plastics Engineering Technology program have the opportunity to travel overseas to visit plastics companies and universities and attend a plastics trade show, too.
On Thursday, Oct. 20th, thirty-three PLET majors embarked on a 10-day trip to Germany. We asked them to tell us about their journey. In this blog post, students give us a report on the remaining days of the trip:
Day 6 — Tuesday, October 25, 2016
An early morning checkout from our hostel lead to a couple sleepy train rides to Stüttgart. Upon arrival the group split in two, one exploring the city while the other boarded yet another train to the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
Once at the Mercedes-Benz Museum, the students were guided through the spiral halls which showcased the many automobiles produced by the company throughout their long history.
The students who stayed back from the museum went sightseeing in the city with a couple of professors. First, they went to the Schlossplatz and the palace Neues Schloss. Neues Schloss was the seat of the Kings of Wurtemburg and had multiple neat statues.
They also checked out the Schillerplatz, which was named after the famed poet Friedrich Schiller, but today houses many market stalls. For sale at the stalls were a multitude of goods, including exotic fruits and freshly baked bread.
The Stiftskirche, next to the plaza, is a beautiful church that was home to evangelical Lutherans in Stuttgart. Johanneskirche is another church the students visited. It had a spectacular view, showcasing a pond full of ducks and a swan. For lunch, they went to a German brauhaus to eat traditional German food, including spätzle.
After the tour, the two groups met again at the Stüttgart HBF and proceeded to the hostel. The hostel was perched high on a hill which provided a beautiful overlook of the city.
Schlossplatz was a hub for foot traffic as the setting sun lit the city’s small streets just in time for dinner. Shops, restaurants, and historical bullrings created a maze around Schlossplatz. The extra exercise gave way to an early night for the young student globetrotters; although a 6 am wake up call the previous and ensuing day may have been a factor as well.
— Ian Duchene, Myles Mike, Eric Santini, and Glenn Spiering
Day 7 — Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Needing to be at the train station by 8:15 a.m., it was yet another early morning wake-up call. Everyone was reaching for a cup of coffee!
By 10:00 a.m., the class reached the Arburg injection molding manufacturing plant in Loßburg, Germany. Upon arrival, everyone received a name tag with their full name.
At the facility, we went to a brief video presentation which gave an overview of the company and their current strides within the plastics industry. Following the video, we split in two groups to tour the facility.
For a private, family-owned company, their facility was enormous. Everyone was in awe with the size of the facility as well as the project management and creative thinking that goes into running an operation this large. There were automatic robots on rail tracks from the ceiling that would carry parts from one work station to the next. The robots had sensors prevent collisions.
Unfortunately, we were not permitted to take any pictures while in the facility. So, you’ll have to trust us when we tell you that it was incredible.
At the end of the tour, students received a delicious free lunch. Before leaving, everyone was given a parting gift, an Arburg umbrella. We then boarded a train back to Stüttgart where we would yet again split in two groups.
One group would head to the Porsche Museum while the other began their journey to Munich where we will be for the remainder of the trip.
Day 8 — Thursday, October 27, 2016
A 6:45 a.m. train took us to Neuschwanstein Castle in Fußen, Germany. The castle was built for King Ludwig II in 1869 and took many years to build. Unfortunately, he only lived there for 172 days before he was found dead in a nearby pond. To this day, his death is still a mystery. Neuschwanstein became open to the general public within six months of the Kings passing. Since then, it has grown to be a major tourist attraction in Southern Germany. (I wonder if he was killed so they could make a small fortune on tours! LOL.).
Following a tour of the inside of the castle, everyone took a ten-minute hike up a pathway that led to a bridge with a beautiful view of the castle. A foggy morning led to great speculation of whether or not we would be able to see the castle from the bridge. Thankfully, the fog had cleared by the time we reached bridge and the view was astounding…
Following the trip to Neuschwanstein groups parted ways to explore Munich with many students eating dinner at the original Hofbräuhaus.
Rosenheim University of Applied Sciences
Day 9 — Friday, October 28, 2016
Students had yet another early morning wake up call—this time for Rosenheim University of Applied Sciences. Every student was in shock upon learning that there is no tuition for students of Rosenheim. The only fee is 52€ per semester for activity and facility fees. After viewing two presentations, the students split into two groups to tour the plastics engineering facilities.
Spread across a few different buildings, the labs consisted of a few different injection molding machines, multiple different extruders, thermoformers, a few stamping presses, and something that was new to many of us, a wood chipper and grinder for wood fiber additives.
The plastics program itself seemed very research-oriented and heavily influenced by industry needs. The tour was interesting and it was interesting to learn how another plastics program runs on the other side of the world.
Dachau Concentration Camp today
Day 10 (Final Day) — Saturday, October 30, 2016
Many of the students took the morning to visit the nearby Dachau Concentration Camp from WWII. The weather for the visit was appropriately somber and heavy and the students carried that with them while trying to imagine the horrors that took place on the very ground on which they walked. For the first time on the trip, there was no jubilant conversation or laughter, just simple and respectful silence.
Following the trip to Dachau, the students were granted the day to explore Munich and collect souvenirs for their loved ones back home. There was a mandatory check-in at 6:00 p.m. after which students were led to their final dinner where the professors and Chancellor Ralph Ford were present!