This was the day of our first company visit, SGL. As I had found out from Eric at the welcome dinner, SGL was our group’s company, so I had prepared several questions. Breakfast at the hotel was amazing again, and we left by bus around 8:15. As soon as the bus started driving, I fell asleep.
I woke up just as we pulled in to the SGL parking lot. We started with a presentation about the process of making carbon fiber composites as well as the business side of SGL. I found the part about the processes and production incredibly interesting, the business stuff less so. Even though I am studying mechanical engineering, not chemical engineering, I find the materials science aspect of SGL intriguing. After the presentation, we went on a tour of the facility.
First, they showed us some applications of carbon fiber and carbon fiber composites. This ranged from raw carbon fiber to car doors to machine parts to golf clubs. They even had a carbon fiber canoe. Next, we got to see the actual production facilities. Hearing about the processes was interesting, but actually seeing it was even better. I could definitely see myself working at a similar job at some point in my career. After the tour, SGL gave us lunch. I was not sure what it was, but it did not taste that bad.
After SGL, we got back on the bus and headed towards the BMW Museum in Munich. On the way there, we saw the Olympiastadion, which was the main venue for the 1972 Olympics. The BMW museum was incredible. It was amazing to see how consistently ahead of their time BMW has been. Many of their cars would not look out of place twenty years later. The i-series exhibit was also interesting.
We then crossed the street and went to BMW Welt, their largest dealership. We did not go on any test drives, but we got to sit in many different BMW and BMW Group models. Unfortunately, the i8 and the Rolls-Royce were locked. After wandering around, we got dinner at the food place there and waited for our factory tour to start.
The factory tour was awesome. My favorite part was how automated it was beyond having robots doing some physical work. The human workers were there for supervision and doing small tasks that robots could not do, while the robots did the majority of the assembly for all the models on one assembly line. The best part of that is it means that somehow the robots know what model they are working on at any given time and can adjust what they are doing without human intervention.
By the time we finished the BMW tour and got on the bus, the sun had almost set. When we got back, we were hungry, but almost everywhere was closed. That was how we ended up going to the McDonalds. The food was better than in the U.S., but it was also more expensive.