Day Three: First Company Visits

Today was our first company visits with SGL and BMW. We first visited SGL which is a company that focuses on manufacturing products from carbon. We started the company visit with a presentation from a graduate of the Katz graduate school of business. His presentation focused on exactly explaining what carbon fiber is and how they manufacture it. At the end of this presentation we were given another presentation by a member of their HR department. Surprisingly, he gave a presentation that encouraged us to apply for co-ops and internships at SGL. I knew that these were companies that I could work for in the future, but I never expected to travel to Germany and be encouraged to apply for work.

After their presentations we had the privilege to tour their plant where they inspected their own carbon fiber. Something I found interesting was that carbon fiber is strong when pulled on but it’s shear strength is weak in comparison. During our lunch break I was able to walk around and see some of the products they have developed or helped develop. One that caught my eye was a Formula SAE car. Formula SAE is a student design competition to see who can build the best vehicle. SGL sponsors the university of Munich’s Formula SAE team which is helpful because carbon fiber is expensive along with being very strong and lightweight.

After the SGL tour we got on a bus and headed to Munich to visit the BMW complex. The enormous complex contains the BMW museum, BMW world, and a factory where they manufacture most of the 3 series.

Our first stop at BMW was their museum. It showcased how the company began as an aircraft engine manufacturer all the way to the advanced driving machines they produce today. Throughout the years artists have been chosen to build what they call an art car. The artist will use the car as a canvas. To my surprise one of these artists was Pittsburgh native Andy Warhol. It was cool to travel all that way see a Pittsburgh legend designing a car for one of the premier car makers in the world.

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While the history of the company is cool, the best part of the museum for me was BMW’s vision for the future. BMW plans to produce 25 electric vehicles by 2025 with 12 of them being purely electric. Their fully electric i3 has a frame that is made of entirely carbon fiber instead of metal. The museum truly showcased BMW’s past, present, and future.

The museum was very interesting, but I thought BMW world was even better. I love looking at the new cars that are being released on the internet but at BMW world I was able to do this in person. They had just about every series available for you to sit in including the M series. Not only could you sit in them – if you had the money you could buy the cars. Also, around BMW world were Rolls Royce and Mini as they are both subsidiaries of BMW. You were not able to sit in the Rolls Royce probably because it was such an expensive car, but it was still impressive to be in the presence of one.

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After being in awe of BMW world we went on a tour of their manufacturing facilities. The factory in Munich produced most of the 3 series that the company sells. In the factory I got to see how cars are built and it involves a lot of robots. Robots weld the car frames, paint the cars, and move the cars from point A to point B. The robots were a mixture of KUKA robots and ABB robots, we have a company visit with the former later on in the trip and I am looking forward to it.

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