Going in to the next company trip, I knew it was going to be hard to go after Audi given their amazing presentation and production line. Nevertheless, I was still really excited to see Faurecia, a company that works on the exhaust systems of cars as well as other components on the interior, such as the seats. We took a streetcar from our hotel to Faurecia’s location in Augsburg. Ironically, on the train ride there I met an engineer who worked there named Mustafa. He was really nice and we talked a lot about the company and how he moved from India to Germany.
When we arrived at the company, I said goodbye to him and we went inside on our tour. I was impressed with the work the engineers were doing. They were running all kinds of experiments on the exhaust systems of the cars. They were looking at the heat flow and the vibrations of the system to name a few of the things they were investigating. The facility itself was aging though and it was clear that some of their software could have used an upgrade. Nevertheless, it was a cool tour to see their work, especially in their newer acoustic testing room. It was a massive room with large foam triangles at alternating angles which helped to form interference with the sound in the room meaning it was so silent in the room it was scary. This was by far the coolest part of the tour.
After the facility tour, we had a presentation from a lady who works at Faurecia. I was really unimpressed with the presentation, and it felt unorganized. There was a really weird moment when she and some of her coworkers started to present a job opportunity to us even though we were all ineligible to work their as it was asking for German speaking, European born students. Another part of the presentation that baffled me was when she mentioned that the company has no specific way of pronouncing its own name. This was incredibly puzzling for me because as a company, your brand should mean a lot to you. Not knowing how to pronounce your own name, or not having logos on your products just felt like a poor business decision to me.
Regardless, I still liked the tour and I think their engineers are working on some cool technology. After hearing about the direction of the automotive industry from Audi yesterday, I think Faurecia is going to be in a lot of trouble in the coming years. Since electric cars don’t have exhaust systems, they will lose a large portion of their business and I don’t think they are diversified enough to survive that loss.
Political Lecture and Calzones
After the tour of Faurecia, our group went back to Augsburg University for lunch and a politics lecture. Everyone was incredibly tired from the night before, and I felt really bad for the presenter when a few people in our group started to sleep during his presentation. I found it really interesting so I didn’t have a problem with falling asleep. He talked about the Bavarian political history. I was surprised to see the conservative party dominating the government for the past 50 years although it’s important to note that the conservative party here is a lot more liberal than the American party. Recently though, the conservative party and the traditional democratic party have been losing its influence to a rising alt-right party and a green party. I found it really interesting that he said the majority of people in the alt-right were once in the left leaning parties but they feel forgotten or abandoned by their former party.
In general, I have realized from my talks with Freddie and this political lecture that the Germans are a lot more informed about their politics than Americans. It seems like all of the German students know how their government works and who a lot of the main politicians are. Most Americans don’t seem to care as much about politics, let alone foreign politics like the Germans do. I was pretty happy to be around people who cared as much as I do, and it also made me realize I need to do even more research about my own government.
Later that day, I went to Vapiano, an Italian restaurant in Augsburg. I got delicious ravioli and a calzone for dinner. I really liked how we put our orders on gift cards which you would then have to pay the balance when you left the store. It made the process of getting food from their stations very efficient. I’m definitely noticing a trend here in Germany, they love to make things efficient and organized.