From Star Wars-like Droids to Historic Beauty (May 9)

Today began with a two-hour bus ride as we headed to Continental for a site visit. To pass the time, several of us played cards and attempted to keep the deck from toppling around every corner. Nevertheless, time passed quickly and soon we were signing into the facility. First, we attended a presentation highlighting Continental’s company identity, its current products, innovations, and plans for the future. While I was previously only familiar with Continental’s tire production, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how many different products the company makes. From car sensors and computer boards to horseshoes, Continental is advancing technologies in a variety of industries.  After suiting up in lab coats and shoe covers, we were given a factory tour where we followed the production of computer boards to be implemented in car sensors. Like BMW, the Continental factory was highly automated with humans attending machines when issues arise. It was impressive to see how quickly, and precisely large numbers of electronic components were implemented on the boards. Having little by way of experience in factories, I had no idea how “smart” the machines were in their planning and anticipation of issues. Additionally, there were small autonomous robots, reminding me of Star Wars droids, that would “drive” around the factory bringing materials to and from storage. May ‘The Force’ be with them!

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Following our time at Continental, we headed to the nearby city of Regensburg. Walking into the city felt like we were walking back in time as we crossed the immense stone bridge and passed through the once operational gate. Built along the Danube river, Regensburg was once a very wealthy town which was evident from the beautiful historic buildings. I was amazed to learn that there are around 1,000 buildings throughout the city that are approximately 700 years old! We had the pleasure of being taken on a guided tour where we learned about the style of architecture of the city, its history and the building of both the massive homes and the town’s cathedral. Walking through the city with its amazing ivy-covered buildings and narrow cobblestone streets was an experience unlike any I’ve had in the United States! The town’s cathedral is a sight to see! Taking nearly 300 years to complete, the cathedral stands extraordinarily high with its amazing stonework and ornate detail. Later, on our way to dinner, we were lucky enough to hear its bells ring out for quite some time, reminding that it’s Ascension Day.

We finished our day with a delicious dinner, as all the meals have been, at a biergarten in the city. I know we all left happy and full as well as tired from a jam-packed, fun-filled day! Suffice it to say, I loved Regensburg and only wish we had more of that historic beauty in our modernized American cities! As I head to bed I’m reflecting on all we saw and learned today; what a great experience!  I’m also very much looking forward to visiting Neuschwanstein tomorrow. May ‘The Force’ keep being with us all!

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