Encounter Engineering in Europe

This month’s blog post comes from a group of engineering students who recently traveled to Germany as part of LSU’s Encounter Engineering in Europe (E3) study abroad program! To read more about their exciting trip, check out their blog at http://ecubed2014.weebly.com/


Originally published on July 4, 2014

Today we visited the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. We began in the gift shop, and as some of us were in line to pay, we almost missed the tour. After running to catch up with our group, we were seated in a room to see an introductory presentation. After precisely 4 minutes and 11 seconds of technical difficulty (our guide was very specific), we had to move on without the presentation, for Germans value promptness. Our Italian/German tour guide, Giacomo, had a need for speed as he gave us a driving tour through the factory – we were driven in a Volkswagen car (that can, as he demonstrated, accelerate from 0 to 60 in only a few seconds) with a train of seats attached behind.

As we zoomed through the factory, we saw cars and car parts being made, assembled, and quality tested. VW uses 2500 robots in the body shop, and the factory produces 3800 cars per day. Volkswagen has taken steps to improve efficiency by using a kind of high resistance steel, which you can visually discern from regular steel because it’s a darker color. Because the high-resistance steel is more rigid, VW can use thinner pieces of steel that are just as strong as the thicker regular pieces – this replacement makes the cars more lightweight, but just as strong. German dance music played throughout the factory for the workers to enjoy, but according to our tour guide, the employees are “not allowed to dance of course.”


E3 group in front of the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg

The national love of soccer has resulted in an abundance of German pride within the factory. Some machines are green and white in support of the local Wolfsburg soccer team. Additionally, some cars driven through the factory had German flags on the windows. “The Germans are for the Germans, this is clear,” says Giacomo as we zoom by.

Our tour guide has worked his way up through the ranks and knew everything about the factory; he even helped develop one of the newer cars. His expertise included the history of the facility, and he explained to us that, amazingly, some of the original parts of the building have been preserved since WWII. In some parts of the factory, we saw holes in the ceiling where the factory was bombed.

Afterwards we ate currywurst for lunch at a Volkswagen company cafeteria – VW makes over 7 million of its famous sausages per year. The meal was indeed authentic, as well as very delicious. Everything we saw or heard throughout the entire Volkswagen tour was undeniably informative, entertaining, and full of character.


Introducing Your Engineering Ambassadors!

Transitioning from high school to college evokes many feelings: excitement, anxiety, and even fear. As Engineering Ambassadors, we know how you feel and are here to help.

Engineering Ambassadors is a diverse, student service group representing all programs in LSU’s College of Engineering. Not only do we have the opportunity to lead student recruitment tours, promote the College to parents, alumni, and friends of the College, and network with distinguished alumni at special events–our work is vital in offering prospective students an inside look into life as an LSU Engineer and making the transition to college as smooth as possible.

Here’s some information about who we are!

Terrell Anderson

Classification: Freshman
Major: Industrial Engineering
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Fun Fact: I have a twin brother who is also studying to be an industrial engineer.

Stiel Aubrey


Classification: Senior
Major: Petroleum Engineering
Hometown: Broussard, LA
Fun Fact: I have been proficient in French since the age of three.

William “Dino” Behler Jr.


Classification: Freshman
Major: Petroleum Engineering
Hometown: Picayune, MS
Fun Fact: I am a state champion power-lifter.

Megan Brunet


Classification: Sophomore
Major: Construction Management
Hometown: Houma, LA
Fun Fact: I love to surf and also enjoy watching The Walking Dead.

Kristin Ellis


Classification: Sophomore
Major: Chemical Engineering
Hometown: Plaquemine, LA
Fun Fact: I am an avid {huge/big} fan of the NBA.

Giselle Medina


Classification: Sophomore
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Beaumont, TX
Fun Fact: I would like to be an astronaut and work for a private space company.


Senior Design and Student Competitions: The IEEE Regional Robotics Competition

Our team, representing LSU, placed third out of twenty universities at the 2014 IEEE Region 5 Student Robotics Competition. The competition was held on April 5, 2014 in Corpus Christi, Texas. The objective was to build a small robot that could extinguish a simulated oil rig fire on a predefined course. The robot had to determine which oil rig out of three was on fire, pick up the correct tool to extinguish the fire, navigate a maze, and use the tool to extinguish the fire. All tasks had to be completed in under four minutes, and points were awarded for number of tasks completed. The robot had to be completely autonomous, which means that it could not be controlled by anyone and had to perform all the tasks on its own.

We participated in the competition as part of our joint Senior Design project between the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering departments. Our team consisted of Nicolas Aguirre (EEC), Joshua Duncan (EE), Gregory Garner (EE), Collin Lee (ME), and Daniel Quebedeaux (EEC). We designed the robot during the Fall 2013 semester, and the manufacturing and testing took place over the Spring 2014 semester. The robot was designed and built from scratch and incorporated concepts from the electrical, computer, and mechanical disciplines.

Robotics Team Group Photo

Robotics Team Group Photo

Our team qualified for the Finals in the first of three qualifying rounds by being able to complete at least one task. After the first final round, we were tied for third with four other universities. In the tiebreaker round for third, we scored four out of the five possible points. This gave us the third place position and was the highest score achieved in competition play. We received many compliments from other universities on the design and performance of our robot. Our team was recognized at the Awards Banquet for placing third. We received certificates, student editions of the LabVIEW software, and a $200.00 cash prize.

We had to learn many technical skills in order to build a successful robot, in areas such as computer vision, microcontroller programming, mobile power, servo and motor control, and manufacturing. In addition to technical skills, we all had to learn about the design process, project management, budgeting, and working together as a team.

The most rewarding part for the team was seeing all of our hard work pay off. We also enjoyed talking with the other universities and discovering the many creative ways other teams approached the same problem. The whole experience increased our interest in the field of robotics.

  – Nicolas Aguirre, Joshua Duncan, Gregory Garner, Collin Lee, and Daniel Quebedeaux

Introducing Our New Blog! So, What’s It About?

Here at the LSU College of Engineering, we know that we have awesome students with great stories to tell. Students who embody the LSU Engineer. So we thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could share the thoughts and experiences of our current students with prospective students (and the world!)?

This blog gives prospective students an inside-look at what it’s like to be an LSU Engineer. From life on campus to senior design projects. From jobs and internships to student organizations. They will hear it all!

As we begin this journey, we need your feedback and support. Share your thoughts about our new blog in the comments below! What topics would you like to see discussed? As a prospective student, what would be interesting and helpful to you? As a current student, what stories would you share with prospective students?

If you’re a current student at LSU’s College of Engineering and are interested in contributing to this blog, send us an email through the Connect page.