Study Engineering Abroad in Germany

Here’s an excerpt from our Encounter Engineering in Europe (E3) 2016 study abroad group. You can see all of their posts from the summer on their website at

“Worth the Trek” by Estin Field

Our day began early as we headed out to Corratec, a company who designs and assembles a wide variety of bikes. After a long train ride, we wandered through the city until we finally found our destination. Corratec was like no other excursion we have had so far; we were not led by a tour guide, but instead their head research and development engineer. Because he was an engineer he was able to explain the design process in great detail. Before our tour began, we had a special visitor: the CEO and founder of Corratec. He was happy to have us there, and answered any questions we had. He mentioned that his job gets harder everyday as his company expands. When asked about the vision he had for his company, he said he wanted to be different from other bike companies, and to also follow a different path than his father before him.


After beginning the tour I was very surprised. The process began with a single, human worker attaching spokes to rim that were reinforced by an automated machine. The worker also had assistance from high-tech machine spinning the rim as she attached the spokes. This was a big difference from BMW and Porsche, who have robots assembling their products. The bikes were then moved through the shop by hooks that moved on a track on the ceiling. Human workers assembled various parts of the frames as the hooks came by.

After finishing the factory tour, we were shown the engineering office. There, they used SolidWorks to design various bike components and overall products. This is the same program Mrs. Paige Davis taught many of us in her CM 1020 class.  We learned how they design and make prototype models for future bikes. Overall, this was one of the most interesting factory tours we’ve had, and definitely one of my favorites!


Studying Engineering Abroad

LSU’s Encounter Engineering in Europe (E3) is a summer study abroad program in Germany, giving students hands-on learning experiences and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. This year’s 2015 cohort has created a blog to share their stories. Here are just a couple below, but you can check out their full blog at!

The beautiful city of Heidelberg

The beautiful city of Heidelberg

Welcome to BASF! posted June 26, 2015

Today started off earlier than normal. We had to be ready and out the door by 8:10. BASF had sent a bus to take us up from our hostel to their plant in Ludwigshafen, about 30 minutes away. The bus that was sent was a gift of its own- we didn’t have to walk a mile to the train station or take a public bus. But best of all, the bus had AIR CONDTIONING! For some reason, it seems Germans just don’t believe in air conditioning, I guess it’s not efficient enough for them. Anyway, we arrived at the plant’s front gate and Dr. Jessel, the head of recruiting, met us. From the front gate, I could see what I was really getting myself into. The shear size of some of the equipment was a little hard to believe. With our jaws still gaped open, Dr. Jessel welcomed us and handed out our guest passes for the plant. She began with saying that “last night was the fun, but today is the work.” I blew it off, thinking that we wouldn’t really do anything that hard. Man, was I wrong.

We were brought into a conference room where we were given water, juice, and cookies. We took our seats, and Dr. Jessel began her presentation on BASF and the company’s history. She gave us some of the statistics on the plant and mentioned that it is the world’s largest chemical plant run by a single company. She also discussed the products BASF manufactures such as polyethylenes, plastics, coatings, and paints. After her presentation, a process engineer named Stefan Höser, gave us a presentation on Advanced Process Control. He talked about the role he plays in maintaining constant and efficient production while avoiding problems like overheating or extreme pressures. We were then led to another building where we met Dr. Nübling, the butandiol plant manager.

He gave us a presentation on the plant then we got suited up in safety glasses and hard hats to tour the plant. He guided us up to the top of some of the platforms around 5 stories high, and we had to weave our way through the metal jungle of pipes, gages, and valves. We got some wonderful views of the plant, which the size of a small city. We later went to eat in one of the 8 canteens/restaurants on site and found out that the plant also has apartments, railways, roads, showers, laundromats, and 15,000 bikes. After we ate, we finished the day with a bus tour of the rest of the site and the BASF museum. It was an incredible experience to see such a large scale production in full force and get to know the people involved in the process. If the next three years go as planned, I can only wish to be a part of something as spectacular.

 – Darrin Paul, Chemical Engineering Sophomore

Sunny Side Up: posted June 30, 2015

My stomach rumbled as I wandered into the dining room for breakfast. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the hotel had hot, fresh eggs! After a quick breakfast, I enjoyed the rest of my morning journaling on the terrace, with a breathtaking view of the Alps ahead of me. I met up with the group for class at 9 a.m. in one of the large conference rooms on the second floor. Bart began with a short German lesson consisting of laundry terms, so we could wash clothes at the hotel. We only had one mishap: the spin cycle was turned off for the first load, forcing Darrin to wring out his wet clothes and hang them up to dry.

Afterward, we formed groups of two to pull together the most important information from our BASF and Scheffel’s Brewery tours. The groups presented their findings and led the class in discussion. This exercise was followed by a Chase’s presentation on biodegradable plastics, which related to BASF’s Ecoflex.

We were then dismissed to work on our projects due this evening. My class, HNRS 2020, is writing individual cultural analysis papers, while the IE 4785 class is working on group video presentations on various forms of renewable energy. After lunch, class resumed at 1:30, and Stacey presented her research on the chemical instability of beer. We continued working on our projects well into the afternoon, and thankfully, the eggs we had for breakfast gave us enough fuel to finish our projects in time.

– Amy Olson, Civil Engineering Senior

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


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.