The big day is finally here!
This morning, my group woke up early and met to run through our presentation a few times at the University of Augsburg.
We met at 9:30AM, rehearsed our presentation until about 12:00PM and then went to lunch. We ate lunch together at the Mensa, and I ate a German meal that was had pork, mushroom sauce, and Spatzle. We had to hurry because we had to be back to the classroom before 1PM for the presentations.
Dr. Feick had one person from each group pick a slip that had which order we presented in. Unfortunately, our group was the last to present. It took about 3 hours for all 5 teams to present. Listening to the other presentations, I thought everyone did well, and each group had so much information, regardless of how helpful the company visits were. If I had to rate the company visits, I would order them as:
My rating is based off the quality of the presentations, the openness of the presenters during the Q&A sessions, and the factory tours.
For our presentation, I presented on Hirschvogel’s product innovation. At Hirschvogel, they recently have made some changes to help them remain competitive in the car industry. First, they introduced iBox, which is a forum where workers of any status can submit small or large ideas to improve the company. On the product innovation side, the iBox is used for large ideas about new products or machining techniques that they could implement. Ideas that are implemented are rewarded as an incentive to be creative. Second, Hirschvogel just introduced Hirschvogel Tech Solutions, a new department designed to keep Hirschvogel proactive in the car industry. Historically, Hirschvogel would wait for car companies to approach them when they needed a forged component part. Tech Solutions aims to be proactive and approach their customers to help with potential problems they are facing. They are working with companies to seek out problems, find solutions, and increase their sales. Tech Solutions designs products and plans their manufacturing process, so companies do not need to have extensive knowledge in the forging business. Because electric vehicles will not require as many parts as combustion engines, this is a vital step for Hirschvogel’s future so that they can find new parts to manufacture.
After we finished the presentations, the entire group met for our farewell dinner at the restaurant in the basement of the town hall. The restaurant was fantastic, I had a huge piece of schnitzel. We got to talk to our group members from Germany, and I learned about different German dialects. Different regions in Germany have different dialects. While regions in the U.S. have different accents, dialects are stronger and include changes in words, spelling, and sentence structure. The German students in our group were from different regions, so they were explaining how they can’t understand each other sometimes if they speak in their German dialect. Most Germans know standard German (if you can call it that), and we will speak in a common tongue with Germans from other regions.
We gave the German students in our group the gifts we brought with us from Pittsburgh. We all brought a couple different gifts, so we split them equally into three different gifts. I gave my terrible towel and a journal to Sophie, and Luisa and Maren got a Steeler bag, candy, and Pitt T-shirts.
It was a sad day because everything was coming to a close. While we had a couple more days to explore Germany, it finally hit me that the trip was almost over.
Tomorrow, we are traveling the Neuschwanstein Castle, so we will be a little more touristy than we usually have been.