The day has arrived for our first site visit. I set my alarm for 6:30 to have plenty of time to eat and be prepared for the visit to Hirschvogel. We boarded the bus and after falling asleep we arrived at the plant. I had no idea what to expect at the site visits and the small knowledge I had about the company was that they used forging technology, not molding. At this point I had no idea what that meant though. As we gathered in the room we met the Vice President who would be giving a presentation and tour of the facilities. I was very interested to learn as much as I can from each company whether it was about business or engineering. The PowerPoint he presented allowed me to understand their focus on the automotive industry and the wide variety of products they produce and have the potential to produce. Although I still did not understand exactly how they made these products, I was beginning to understand more of how they collaborate with their customers to create the most innovative and durable products.
It was then time to go on the tour which involved walking around their very large headquarters. We were given big yellow vest, earplugs and a headphone set to be able to hear his explanation while we were in the factories. I was surprised when someone asked about wearing hard hats and he casually said that those simply would not protect you if something fell. That however did not stop anyone from following him directly into the factory. We received an extensive tour of numerous different processes including hot, warm and cold forging. I was far more interested in seeing this process in action then I expected. Watching a small cylinder of steel go through a rather quick process and immediately begin to take on a new shape. I was still confused about the actual process that was occurring. We continued on the tour and got to see every step of the process from receiving the steel to shipping out their products to consumers. We then gather for lunch in their cafeteria and got back on the bus to make our trip to Oberammergau. I was still trying to understand forging so I finally decided to talk to Maya, an engineering student. I was finally able to understand that forging is changing the temperature of the steel in order to forcefully change the shape of the steel. Molding would be a longer and less versatile process because there would have to be casings made and then the steel would have to be melted down and set in the case to form the shape. I wish I could have taken pictures in the factories to look back on when remembering this trip.
It had been a long day so as soon as we arrived in this quaint town majority of the students flocked to the cafe to get a coffee and I could’t resist from getting a chocolate croissant. We then took the time to walk into the small shops and explore what was around the town. There were Christmas shops scattered around that sold very small and detailed wood ornaments and classic hand made decorations. Time for exploring came to an end very quick and we left to take the gondola to the overlook of the German Alps. When I was told we were taking a lift to this site I was expecting something large, but that wasn’t the case. 10 people were squeezed in a small gondola that was attached to a single cable, and before I could think about it we were on our way to the top. People joking compared it to the Pittsburg incline, but they are simply not comparable. I was amazed at how breath taking the view of Oberammergau and the mountains were as we traveled to the top. I was not ready for how speechless I would be when we got to the overlook of the German Alps. Simply no words or pictures could do this view justice, but luckily it was a sunny and warm day so we got to take pictures to capture the view as much as possible. An hour went by quickly and the worker told us it was time to head back down.
Once we got back to the hotel a group of us got together and went to the Italian restaurant Vapiano’s. I had already been to a couple locations in DC, but I was excited to go again and see how different it was from home. It was ten times better then I remembered and I enjoyed every last bite of my pizza.
Highlight of the Day: Understanding forging and molding.