When I was younger I remember waking up on a Saturday and Sunday morning and grabbing a snack and turning on the TV to a How It’s Made marathon on the Science channel. I would sit for hours watching everything from violins, to Ferrari’s, to yo-yo’s being crafted and built piece by piece in front of me. I was fascinated with factories and the complicated processes used to make house hold items and I believe the show played a large role in garnering my interest in engineering. Today we visited Hirschvogel Automotive Group, a medium sized German company focused on the forging and machining of steel and aluminum components primarily for the automotive industry. Walking through the factory was like I had a front row seat to How It’s Made and I felt like a kid again staring in awe at the giant machines and agile robots. Seeing molten steel being pressed with 2,000 tons of force is not something you see everyday and the shear power of those machines was almost frightening. Despite the impressive manufacturing process, I was slightly disturbed by the working conditions in the factory. The air was thick with dust and particles and you could clearly see rays of light through vents in the ceiling. The factory was also dangerously loud, after a few minutes my ears were already ringing and I winced every time a metal component struck a surface. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the visit and was actually interested in the business strategy of the company.
The two parts of the day were almost polar opposites. From machining and forging of man made materials in a factory, to beautiful mountain air, snow and a wonderful view. First, we visited a small tourist town with many shops and cafes. I wasn’t interested in buying Christmas decorations in May so I found a nice spot in the shade with wifi and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Next, we took an unsettling cable car ride to the top of a mountain and were greeted by a fantastic view of the alps. I have seen mountains around the world, but gazing at peaks that kiss the clouds never ceases to amaze. I fell asleep on the bus ride back to hotel and I am looking forward to sleeping in for a while tomorrow.