Germany Day 3: SGL & BMW

The third day marked the beginning of the site visits. Today, we visited SGL, a carbon fiber based company. Originally, I thought these site visits would be a waste of time, but I soon realized how interesting they really were.

Our SGL site visit began with a couple of presentations, the first about the company of SGL itself, and the second about the careers at SGL. The first presentation I found to be mesmerizing: most of the presentation was about the specific technologies and products of carbon fibers at SGL. These topics include semiconductors, nanoparticles, injection molding, and many more. Mostly all this presentation was right up my alley in terms of what I’m interested in for a career, and thus I found it very intriguing. The second presentation was about the careers at SGL, and it covered the different jobs and even included some recruitment for us. This presentation was just as important as the first one, and as a result of these two presentations, I am considering applying for an internship for SGL back in the United States.

A Formula 1 racecar made by students from the University of Munich using carbon fiber supplied by SGL

The tour of the parts of SGL was interesting, but definitely not the highlight of the visit. We got to see all the different areas that produced the carbon fibers, which was cool. However, none of these machines were running, so it was harder to visualize that actual process. Had the machines been operational, I would have enjoyed the factory tour much more.

After the SGL tour, we took a bus to the BMW headquarters. After some much-needed sleep on the long bus ride, we finally arrived in Munich to visit the BMW headquarters and museum. We first were let loose to check out the museum, and it was amazing. As a mechanical engineer, I was truly impressed will all the displaying showcasing the mechanical parts of the vehicles. Out of all the displays, my favorite was the i8 section (pictured below), devoted completely to showcasing the i8 series, and the different parts that are built into the i8 cars. The combination of a sleek design and innovative technology really had me hooked.

After the museum, a small group of us students decided to visit the Olympic village. It was so much larger than I could have ever imagined. The sheer size made it literally seem as if it was its own town/village. I was also surprised that it was kept up so well, and that a lot of the areas were converted into new tourist attractions, such as a dinosaur theme park. The views, as expected, were gorgeous, and I was really glad we decided to visit the village, even though we were exhausted.

The next, and final, part of our day was visiting the BMW factory. Although only four models were made here, it was very interesting to see at the small processes that went into manufacturing a car. At first, everything seemed like chaos. Robotic arms were flying inches from walls or other arms, sparks were flying from spot wielding, and the sounds were so loud we needed headsets to hear the tour guide. I soon realized that this was all meticulously planned and controlled, chaos. Everything was moving very quickly, but with incredibly high precision and accuracy.

Overall, it was a very tiring and busy day, but it will be one that I will remember for a very long time.

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