PLET Students in Germany – Days 6-10

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:

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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.

— Ian

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Neuschwanstein Castle

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…

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Following the trip to Neuschwanstein groups parted ways to explore Munich with many students eating dinner at the original Hofbräuhaus.

— Ian

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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.

— Ian

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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!

— Ian

 

 

 

 

PLET Students in Germany: Days 2 & 3

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 Ian  Duchene gives us a report from days 2 & 3 of the trip:

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Cologne Cathedral

Day 2

We landed in Frankfurt, Germany, at 6:00 a.m. We quickly boarded a train to Cologne (Köln). Upon dropping off luggage at our Youth Hostel, students enjoyed the day out discovering Cologne.

A staple of the city is the Cologne Cathedral where it is claimed the three Wise Men are buried. The cathedral is open to the general public so many students went in to appreciate the walls of stained glass and the rich history and sanctuary of the cathedral.

Another large attraction where students spent some time was the Museum Ludwig across the square from the cathedral. This art museum is home to three floors of artwork with a strong focus on pop art. The main attraction of the museum was that it is home to over 50 Pablo Picasso pieces.

Aesthetically beautiful cobblestone streets lead to many venues and bars where students found delicious meals of bratwurst and doner kebabs.

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Day 3

Today marked the second cultural activity day where students were permitted to travel in their own groups across the city doing activities of their choice. With about ten hours under our belts in Cologne, students have already become more comfortable in the environment and getting around the local area on their own.

One group traveled to the nearby Kölner Zoo. Another larger group traveled to a soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Hoffenheim. And multiple groups went to the Shokoladen Museum and the Cologne Cathedral with a few groups climbing to the top of the cathedral.

One student remarked “the soccer game was a great experience, the energy in the stadium was intense, and it was interesting to see how a different country passed their free time.” The team that they were supporting was Bayer Leverkusen, but they lost after ninety minutes.  After arriving in Cologne, they learned that Leverkusen is not the home team.  The scarves purchased from the game that represented Leverkusen were quickly removed!

At the Shokoladen (chocolate) Museum students enjoyed plenty of free samples of Lindt chocolate. There was also an exhibit of chocolate rotational molding that really grabbed the groups attention as it is a similar process to plastic rotational molding.

 ~ Ian
 

Plastics Engineering Technology Students Off to Germany

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Guest Post by Ian Duchene and Eric Santini, Plastics Engineering Technology majors

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 will begin a 10-day trip to Germany. We asked them to send us some photos and tell us about their journey. In this blog post, students Ian  Duchene and Eric Santini give us a preview of what the group will be seeing while overseas.

For the past eight weeks, we students have been meeting in and out of class preparing for the adventure that we will be embarking on.

Upon arrival in Frankfurt, Germany, at 6:00 a.m. on Friday, October 21, we will be gathering ourselves for a tiresome first couple days of fighting off jet lag. The day will begin by boarding a train to travel to Cologne or Köln. The students have been given both Friday and Saturday as Cultural Tour days where they have the flexibility to go to specific museums or local attractions of their choice.

Sunday, October 23 and Monday, October 24 will be spent entirely at the K Show. For those who are unfamiliar with the K Show, it is the world’s largest plastics conference that only takes place once every four years…Yes, it is the Olympics of Plastics Engineering. This conference covers more than 170,000 square meters of floor space with companies presenting new technologies and systems that you should expect to see released the next four years in the industry. This is a great opportunity for all of the seniors attending the trip to network on a global level and potentially line up interviews for full time jobs upon graduation in December or May.

After our time at the K Show comes to a close, we will be traveling to Stüttgart, Germany on Tuesday, October 25 to visit both the Mercedes Benz Museum and the Porsche Museum. The following day will be spent touring Arburg, an injection molding machine manufacturer, a company that has two machines in our lab here on campus. Following the tour, we will then be travelling to Munich or “München” for the final three days of our trip.

On Thursday, October 27, we will have another cultural day to explore the city. Many students are planning to go to Dachau, a nearby Nazi Concentration Camp while others are planning on travelling to Neuschwanstein Castle.

On Friday, October 28, we will tour the University of Applied Sciences Rosenheim. The final day of the trip, October 29, will be another cultural day for students to visit any remaining attractions they may have wanted to see, and to prepare for the trip home the next day.

Check this blog in the next 10 days and follow us on our journey!

Students preparing to study in “Land of the Rising Sun”

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Japan study tour photo

Dr. Vicki Kazmerski, associate professor of psychology, goes over Japan travel information with students enrolled in the study-tour.

“You need to work on being quiet and small,” said Dr. Dawn Blasko, associate professor of psychology. “Americans are known to be big, loud, and rowdy. We spread out and take up a lot of space, and that’s not going to go over well in Japan.”

Sometimes expanding your horizons requires downsizing your personality, particularly when traveling abroad. It’s an important cultural lesson that fifteen Penn State Behrend students are learning to embrace before they embark on a twenty-day study tour in Japan.

“The overall atmosphere in Japan is quiet and calm, which is much different from my usual pace of life,” said Grace Waldfogle, a junior Psychology major. “I am outgoing and will need to remember to be more reserved there. It will be an interesting experiment, I’m sure.”

While in Japan, the students, enrolled in either PSYCH 232 Cross-Cultural Psychology or PSYCH 499 Foreign Studies in Psychology, will travel to Yokohama to attend the International Congress of Psychology. At the Congress, students will interact with researchers from across the world and attend sessions highlighting current research from a global perspective.

Some, like Waldfogle, will even present their own research work.

As an undergraduate research assistant, she has been working with Blasko, and Dr. Heather Lum, assistant professor of psychology, on a study that looks at navigation in a foreign environment, and will present her poster, “A Birds Eye View of a Foreign World: Individual Differences in Spatial Cognition,” at the Congress.

Before and after the conference, Waldfogle and other students will explore cities and historical sites in and around Tokyo, including an overnight trip to visit the shrines and temples in the Kyoto area.

“I’m excited about visiting Kamakura, which is the home of the ‘Big Buddha,’ and participating in Zen meditation,” Waldfogle said.

The study tour is designed to allow students to see firsthand how culture shapes the way people view the world and develop an awareness of ethnocentric bias and ways to identify and avoid it. Students in the higher level course will learn about global psychology and how Eastern and Western culture have developed different but complementary perspectives of mind, body, and healthy living. Not all of the students attending are psychology majors, however.

Stephen Dartnell, a sophomore Business major, sees the study tour as an opportunity to enhance his professional portfolio and international business acumen.

“I’m really interested in learning more about psychology as well as Japan’s cultural and business customs,” Darnell said. “Also, having worked at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, I’m especially interested in learning more about Japan’s prominent seafood industry, as there were many Japanese influences at Pike Place.”

The students, who leave on July 21, have work to do before they go.

“There are required reading and assignments that have to be done before the trip,” said Blasko, who is team-teaching the courses along with Lum, and Dr. Vicki Kazmerski, associate professor of psychology.

The instructors recruited a Penn State Behrend MBA student, Yuki Takahashi, a native of Japan, to give the students a few informal advance lessons before the spring semester ended.

“Yuki covered topics such as the alphabet(s), currency, common words and phrases, regions, traditions, and customs,” Dartnell said.

Although none of the students are expected to be fluent in Japanese, Takahashi told them that giving it a shot counts.

“It’s vital that we make an effort to speak their language,” Waldfogle said. “It shows that we respect their culture and want to try and understand things from their perspective.”

Basic psychology, of course.

Creating the Penn State Behrend Performance Band was one of Miranda’s many highlights

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One of Craig Miranda’s favorite moments from this past academic year was creating the Penn State Behrend Performance Band, which performed a series of concerts on campus by the spring semester’s end.

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Editor’s note: Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

When Craig Miranda arrived at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, he had one goal.

“Even though I’m just a freshman, I want to start big. I want to make an impact,” the first-year computer science major said at the beginning of the academic year.

Miranda did more than start big. He finished big.

Through the course of the academic year, he excelled in the classroom, joined numerous campus organizations, started his own club, joined the tennis team and even presented a project at the Clinton Global Initiative University’s 2015 meeting, held this past March in Miami.

It’s not how Miranda expected his first year to go when he set foot on campus last August.

“I came here thinking that I would be more secluded. I thought I would just focus on getting my work done to get through, but it turned out to be the opposite,” he says.

Miranda credits the friends he made at Behrend with helping him get involved. Being so far away from home can be challenge, but he’s begun to build a strong support system at the college through the friends he has made.

“Friends are what help me to keep going,” he says. “They give me an escape to get away from whatever I’m feeling, whether it’s homesickness or something else.”

Together with his friends, Miranda created the Penn State Behrend Performance Band student organization as an outlet for anyone who enjoys singing or performing live music. By the end of the semester, the band had 12 members and had performed six concerts.

“We want to reach diverse groups of people, who come from different cultures and might have different tastes in music,” Miranda says of the student organization. “One of the songs we performed this year was an original written by two of our members, and it included both English and Chinese lyrics.”

An emphasis on musical diversity is a reason why Miranda, currently president of the club, has already begun the process of having the Penn State Behrend Performance Band brought under the college’s Multi-Cultural Council (MCC) banner. As the group grows, he envisions it being used even more to promote diversity on campus.

Miranda’s work with the band, coupled with his other accomplishments, made for a busy year, but he says he has no plans to slow down over the summer. Now back home in Kuwait, he reports that he’s already thinking about returning to Behrend in the fall, with plans to do “do something a lot bigger.”

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Far from Home: List of goals serve as motivation for Moustafa Elhadary

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Editor’s note: Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

“Make something big,” “A in all classes,” “Freshman of the year.” Every day, Moustafa Elhadary reads these words a multitude of times.

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Moustafa Elhadary has programmed a list of goals for the spring semester in his iPod that he will refer to as the year goes on.

Elhadary, a first-year computer engineering major at Penn State Behrend, has programmed a list of goals into his iPod. Placed on a radiant yellow background, the list was created by Elhadary as he sat inside a plane on his way back from his home country of Dubai for the start of the spring semester in January.

He reached many of his goals during the fall semester. He compiled a 3.88 GPA and served as a senator for the Student Government Association, chairman of the International Student Organization and promotional coordinator for the Muslim Student Association.

However, he says he hopes this is only the beginning for him. That’s where his list comes into play.

“I always put my homework assignments into my iPod, so when I look at my homework, I see these goals, and because they’re vibrant yellow, they grab my attention every time,” Elhadary says. “It reminds me that I came here for a reason. Sometimes you get caught up in the everyday things, and this list reminds me, ‘Hey Moustafa, your parents spent a lot of money for you to come here, and you need to make them proud.’”

This is one of the main reasons Elhadary has set out to make the most of his time at Penn State Behrend. While he has been active in many clubs, he has been mindful of his academics. Last semester, he had an epiphany.

“I thought, ‘What if I can stay here for four years and get two degrees instead of one?’” Elhadary recalls. “So, in the middle of the semester, I said, ‘Why not?’”

At the moment, Elhadary is taking 22 credits and considering second major options. Industrial engineering or software engineering are possibilities, but he also might consider a business major.

With so many credits this semester combined with his extracurricular activities, time has proven to be a limited resource for Elhadary. At times, he’s even struggled to find time to connect with his family.

“I’ve barely called them because of my schedule,” he says. “I’ve really been trying to, but it’s hard.”

Fortunately, thanks to his iPod, he gets frequent reminders. It’s right there in bright yellow: “Call Zazo, Many and Papy more often.”

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Moustafa Elhadary, left, has made a list of goals for the spring semester, one of which is to make more friends. He’s already made a number of friends at the college though, including fellow international students Hansel Lobo, center, and Tyagadipta Biswal. The trio made a trip to Pittsburgh during the fall semester.

 

Far from Home: Washington, D.C., trip is an eye opener for Craig Miranda

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Craig Miranda, right, spent his winter break visiting his brother Clive, who lives in Washington, D.C.

Craig Miranda, right, spent his winter break visiting his brother Clive, who lives in Washington, D.C.

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Editor’s note: Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

As Craig Miranda made his way up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he could not help but stop to revel in the moment. The brisk air and tenacious winds that day were unlike anything the Kuwait native had experienced so far in the United States, but they did not deter his concentration from the history he was just then experiencing.

“I stopped right where Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” said Miranda, a first-year computer science major at Penn State Behrend. “I just stood there, and I started to film a video. I could just feel the inspiration.”

Miranda’s epiphany atop the Lincoln Memorial was one of the many memories he made during a visit to Washington, D.C., this winter break. Rather than return home, Miranda opted to spend the holidays with his brother, Clive Miranda, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in physiology from Georgetown University.

For more than 20 days, the two spent time touring the city’s monuments and sights. From the White House to the Washington Monument, every base was covered. For Miranda, whose exposure to the United States was previously limited to Erie, the trip was an eye-opener.

Protesters were everywhere. Public transportation was a new concept. And he had never done so much walking in his life.

“It really helped me compare and contrast Erie to other places that I have not yet seen,” he said.

For all of the trip’s unfamiliarities, one constant remained.

“I have such a strong bond with my brother,” Miranda said. “As soon as I got there, I could feel that bond being reunited.”

Miranda’s visit with his brother was also special because this marked the first time he spent Christmas and New Year’s Day away from his family in Kuwait. He says he missed home, but spending the holidays with his brother was the next-best thing.

Miranda even surprised Clive with a special — and appropriate — Christmas gift: a Penn State jersey.

The way that Clive expressed his gratitude might have been the best gift of all, though.

“He wore it onto the campus of Georgetown University,” Miranda said. “I forced him to do it, but it was so fun.”

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