Day 5: How it’s made (May 11)

Today started a little bit differently than other days.  Today, instead of eating breakfast at the hotel, we took  a bus to Baindlkirch, a small town about an hour from our hotel, to eat Veal sausage and pretzels.  The place we went to is owned by the uncle of one of the German students we are working with and is only open on Thursday.  We learned that the restaurant got its start just as a weekly meeting of friends to eat traditional Bavarian food and somehow turned into the breakfast spot of choice for two thousand people every Thursday.

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Traditional Bavarian Sausage

After breakfast we were invited into the kitchen to see how the sausages were made and talk with the owner.  I once again found that the term “family business” means so much to the German people.  The owner seemed really proud of everything he had accomplished and was most happy that he was providing everyone there with a good time, not how busy the place was.

We then departed for Augsburg where we had free time.  I spent that time continuing my exploration of the city and got lunch with a mixed group of German and pitt students.  After a few hours, it was time to get back to the group and head to KUKA.

KUKA is a world leader in robotics and is the top supplier of robots in the car industry.  Everything at the KUKA HQ reminded me of a company like Google.  The whole building was spotless and very modern, everyone working there seemed very happy, and the culture there looked to promote ideas.  We were taken to a room called “Brand Experience” which acted as a a guided history lesson about the company.  After learning a bit about KUKA, we saw a demonstration involving two robots that moved large objects around the room with extreme accuracy.  We then toured the factory, but I feel as though we didn’t see too much because all of the robots involved in production all had one monotonous job.

The thing I found most interesting about KUKA is the software being the robots.  The best example of this is one way the robots can be programed.  You can press a button and then move the robot’s arm how you want it to move, and it will be able to repeat what you did perfectly forever.  I think the sky is the limit with KUKA, but not in robotics.  They were saying this themselves too.  They know that there is much more room for improvement in software than there is with hardware and this is the direction they are headed in.

After KUKA my group and I worked a bit on our project and got dinner.  The presentation is coming along well, but we have a lot of work to do still.  I’m going to be talking about how Faurecia innovates and how it will innovate in the future when the changes we all know are coming start to take effect.  All in all today was a really good day in Germany with a great mixture of German culture, technology and business.

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