Throughout the trip, I’ve thought that our initial travel day would be the longest and most tiring; however, today may have proved me wrong. We left for our start at 8:15am and did not return to Augsburg until 10pm. Today was jam packed with travel to two different companies and factory tours, meaning we spent this 14-hour day in business clothes and uncomfortable shoes.
Our first stop was the SGL Group site in Miettengang. Here, we had a presentation about the company itself: its markets, its recovery from the steel crisis that almost destroyed it, and carbon. Hearing about how the company saved itself from near-closure was my favorite part of the presentation, as it is a great real-life example of things I’ve learned in my business classes. On the other hand, parts of the tour were difficult to understand and enjoy because the company itself has a strong engineering foundation that seeped through to all business talks – talking about the characteristics and creation of carbon fibers and how that directly affects the business success.
After our tour was finished, the company had a lunch of chili, salad, and bread for us to enjoy. I was surprised by how much I loved the chili and, as always here in Germany, the bread was delicious. It was the perfect meal to finish off the morning with.
Since it’s my group who is working on SGL, it was our job to give gifts to those who held the presentations and led the tours. My group was also the first company visit; therefore, we were very clueless and slightly awkward about the gift giving. Arman gave his gift before any of us even knew – Jacki and I saw one tour guide with a gift and panicked because we still had ours. Luckily, two of our contacts at the company were in a conversation with Arielle, so Jackie and I took the opportunity to give the gift then. That’s when we started to lose control. Neither of us knew what to do, so we stood at an awkward distance behind the two as they spoke to Arielle while Dr. Feick signaled for us to start talking to them from his seat at the next table over. We finally tapped on our presenter’s shoulder and caught their attention to say a proper thank you and present them with the gift. Overall, we definitely did not deserve an A in gift giving, but hopefully the next groups learned from our experience and will give the gift in a smoother way for the next companies.
We finally finished up lunch, took a group photo, and headed to the bus to drive the rest of the way to the BMW factory and museum in Munich. The BMW museum was just as cool as you would expect – galleries of different cars, motorcycles, concepts, etc. The concept cars were especially fun to see – the chic designs and innovative technology caught all of our eyes.
After the museum, we had some free time before meeting back up at the BMW World for the beginning of our factory tour. We started by getting food and then went to the 1976 Olympic Stadium right across the street from the BMW site. The Olympic campus is full of food trucks and a beautiful lake and park. We tried to get a look at the Olympic track; however, we weren’t able to get inside. L We went back to the museum gift shop after the park for a few people to buy postcards and for the everyone else to rest on the couches in the lobby area. We also were on a search for ice cream that was unsuccessful at the museum, but accomplished at the BMW world café. I had a Toblerone ice cream that was delicious – how could I not love a combo of ice cream and my favorite chocolate bar?
After taking advantage of the rest of our free time to rest and recharge, we began our tour of the BMW factory. The tour went through each stage of the BMW car production process – moving from parts of the frame all the way to the seat installation. The most interesting part of this tour was watching the robots work along the production line. I always knew that robots are used for car production; however, I never truly understood what that meant until today. It was fascinating to see the robots work so closely, screwing in different bolts, putting parts together, painting – having a part in almost everything it takes to create the vehicles we see on the road every day.
The tour lasted about two hours, and by the end my feet were absolutely killing me and I was exhausted from the day. While the factory was definitely interesting and gave me a unique insight into the common vehicle, I was very relieved and excited when it was over because it meant that I was closer to the bus and a nice nap during the ride home.
Back at the hotel, a few of us were starving and headed out to grab some dinner. Since places here in Augsburg close earlier than we are used to, we ended up at McDonald’s. I’ve always found that going to American chain restaurants in other countries is interesting because they are usually slightly different, and in McDonald’s case the difference is usually a better quality of food. The chicken nuggets actually tasted like semi-chicken, an improvement from the plastic-like filling in the US. After our American dinner abroad, we went back to the hotel, played cards for a little, and now I’m going straight to sleep after this post so I am ready for tomorrow’s excursion to Continental and the city of Regensburg!