The second company visit was Continental, which was located near Regensburg. However, we went to the city of Regensburg first for a tour before going to the company site. The bus ride was almost two hours, and I took advantage of this time to catch up on some much-needed sleep. When we arrived in Regensburg, the weather was surprisingly nice, and I could already tell that it was a quaint little city with lots of history.
I learned a lot about Regensburg on the tour, and I was surprised that I had never really known of Regensburg before our trip there, given its rich history. The name Regensburg comes from the three rivers passing through the city, and “burg” means fortress. There was a fortress built there during the Roman Empire that kept them from being attacked for 300 years. There are also many towers because wealthy merchant families would build them as status symbols to show their wealth. The higher the tower, the more powerful the family. This was a common trend back in the Middle Ages to establish social status based on how important a family was to their city. It is hard for me to believe that every wealthy family could just build their own tower, and it was probably almost a competition as to whose tower was the tallest.
However, the two most impressive architectural feats in Regensburg are St. Peter’s Cathedral and the Old Stone Bridge. St. Peter’s Cathedral is the only Gothic Cathedral in Bavaria, and it is home to the world’s largest hanging organ. I cannot imagine being able to play an instrument like that. Walking through the cathedral was such an amazing experience. The stained-glass windows were breathtaking, and seeing the intricate details of every part of the architecture blew my mind because it took years and years of dedication to build this building. The inside was impressive, but the exterior of the cathedral looked like it would take one thousand years to build, as I have never seen a building with so much detail and precision.
The Old Stone Bridge was built in the 12th century, and it was the only bridge in the city for over 800 years. I am amazed that it is still in such good shape, though there has been some construction done on it. We first walked across the bridge to get to the main part of Regensburg, and there were very nice views. The bridge goes across the Danube River, which is a major river in many countries. The Danube is Europe’s second longest river, so I am glad I got to see it with my own eyes.
After the city tour, we left to go to Continental. We had an introduction to the company first, and then after lunch we did the tour and presentation. Walking into the presentation room, we were greeted with a goodie bag and a variety of beverages. I felt like I was in a real business conference! After the introduction, we went to the cafeteria, which had many options. I think that I am getting better at recognizing some of the traditional German food options in the cafeterias, and I am not as overwhelmed as I was the first time we went to the Mensa. I got Spätzle with vegetables, as well as chocolate and vanilla pudding and peach iced tea because I could not find non-sparkling water. The food was delicious and I enjoyed getting to know Matthias a bit at lunch.
During the presentation after lunch, I learned about the history of changes of cars and what the future looks like for both Continental and the automotive industry. I also learned about ACES, which stands for Autonomous, Connected, Electric, and Shared. ACES technology is the future of cars. BMW uses ACES but Mercedes uses CASE. The two companies have different priorities when it comes to developing future cars.
For the tour, everyone had to wear lab coats and shoe covers to ground ourselves. Once we were all dressed in the attire, we had to pass an Electric Static Discharge test to make sure we were not electrically charged. My group had no issues, so we continued onto the tour. We first saw circuit boards being made in machines. There were many machines operating, and each had green, yellow, and red lights to signal if the machine was working fine, needed to be looked at, or needed immediate assistance. I think the light system is efficient because it is easy to spot a yellow or red light among all the green lights. We also got to see robots roaming around on our tour, which was very exciting. Continental produces more than just tires, and there were no tires being produced at this site. We saw airbag components and sensors in production which was very cool because the components and sensors need to be tailored to the customer’s requirements. One thing I found fascinating was a light wall in one of the robots. The robot could be stopped by putting a hand through lasers rather than having to open and close a door to operate it. The fact that the company spent much more money for this new technology means that they care about continuous improvement like Hirschvogel does and that they push for innovations that improve the company in any way possible.
After leaving Continental, we had about an hour of free time in Regensburg before dinner, so my non-coffee drinking friends and I went to explore the city a bit while most others went to get coffee. There were many shops along the streets, but we somehow ended up in an H&M store. I did not notice too many differences between the clothes sold in the European H&M versus the American one, but there was an entire level for men’s clothes. At the H&Ms near me back home, I am not even sure if they sell men’s clothes, so that was one of the biggest contrasts I noticed. We also ended up in dm, a German drugstore that looks and smells exactly like a CVS. The same things sold in CVS’s were sold in dm, but in mostly European brands. I always like comparing stores in Germany to ones in America because I think it is interesting to see if there are any drastic differences. The make-up brands in dm were all brands sold in the US, but many of the hair products were European brands.
As a group, we had dinner at Weltenburger. All of the guys around me ordered Schnitzel, but I was not in the mood for fried food, so I ordered bread dumplings in a mushroom sauce, which was very similar to my first dinner in Augsburg, the spinach dumplings. We all ordered off a limited menu, but it was in German, so Freddie, one of the German students, was sitting at my table and translated the menu for us. I think the version of the dumplings at Weltenburger was better than the meal I had that first night. Although it may just be that I am growing accustomed to German food.
I really appreciated the history and city of Regensburg, and I am very glad that we went and explored the area. Continental’s tour and presentation went well, but I am beyond excited to finally visit Audi tomorrow!