A group of students from the University of Minnesota is currently staying at the ZHAW School of Engineering. The Global Mechatronics Seminar they attend is a specialized, concise course in mechatronics − complex systems, composed of mechanical components, computers, and sensors. In addition to that, their stay in Winterthur also offers them a chance to get to know Switzerland, its people and geography, as well as some unique ZHAW traditions like the Frackwoche – also known as Tail Coat Week.
«I wanted to go somewhere different and that is why I chose Asia. And Korea is known for hardcore learning at Uni. In my case the uni library is open 24/7 to guarantee that you have enough ‘study time’…
After talking to the officials at my uni there where Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong and Seoul as good options left. I guess that Seoul has a pretty Western World touch, but its very own traditions and rules. And of course, enough courses in English to offer.»
«My name is Lukas Graser and I’m currently studying Aviation with a specialization in Operational Engineering at Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Besides being passionate about flying I always like to discover new, interesting kite spots at different places.I decided to do my exchange semester at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. Why Australia? I’ve never been Down Under and its Aviation education and industry are of great importance to the country with its vast territory. The distances inside Australia are enormous. A trip from Melbourne to Cairns stretches over 3’000 kilometers. Compared to Europe this would be a journey from Tallinn in Estonia to Neaples in Italy, crossing five countries.
With the broad spectrum of Aviation courses, Swinburne University was the perfect choice to study abroad. With 53’000 students, of which 8500 are international, Swinburne University educates a large number of students. This situation is very well reflected by the fact that Swinburne has its own trains station in the middle of the campus.
The courses I chose in my exchange semester focused on economic, financial, managerial and operational aspects of aviation. Combined with the previous learned, rather technical skills at ZHAW, this was a great opportunity to broaden my academic horizons. A study trip to the Qantas’ headquarters in Sydney at the end of the semester allowed me to gain unique insights in a major Australian Airline.»
«My name is Bassam Haithm and I am from Yemen. I came here from South Germany, where I was studying Bioprocess Engineering. My interests are to travel a lot and to learn more about different cultures from all around the World. I have chosen the ZHAW School of Engineering because what I heard about it. Switzerland is the most beautiful country in the world and it was a chance for me to get good experiences through the interesting projects the School provides.
The system here is similar to Germany, but also quite a bit different: At the School of Engineering more projects are connected to companies/industrial partners. It was a really good experience to have. In Winterthur, the students are friendly and helpful. The semester at ZHAW, in my opinion, was a good way to get to know new people from different parts of the world and to have fun with them. Academically, I learnt how to plan and run a project and how to create an idea and implement it to reality. My exchange semester in Mechanical Engineering was totally good, but also stressful. The support of the International Office and the professors was perfect.
There are some topics, like events – especially culture ones – and trips to visit some famous places in Switzerland, I was really missing through the exchange semester. The only events that we had was through the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) and volunteering work from them. I hope that in the future the International Office will organize more events and trips for the exchange students. Finally, I would absolutely recommend to my colleagues to spend their exchange semester at the School of Engineering.»
«During the summer break, we – two energy and environment students studying in the 4th semester – had the opportunity to participate in the Wind Power summer school at the Aarhus University School of Engineering in Denmark. The course was supported and financed by Siemens and Vestas. It was located in Laugesens Have. Even though it was in the middle of nowhere, everything needed and more was there. In the rare spare time, you could spend your time on one of these things: Pool, sauna, football pitch, tennis court, bar, pool table, darts, a little cinema or ping pong table.
After the first day, we could decide if we wanted to attend either power or mechanical classes. We both chose power classes, because in our upcoming semesters, we will focus on electrical subjects. Surprisingly, the course was quite challenging from the very beginning, but it was feasible to learn. One half of the 48 students were international students, the other Danish. Beside the classes, we went to several places:
- Vestas & Siemens headquarter
- DTU Test site in Risø for large wind turbines
- School of Engineering Aarhus
- Energienet.dk where we had the chance to see the control room
During the second half of the course we worked on a case study in groups of six people for three days – and nights! The aim was to establish an own innovation for a new wind turbine. At the last night, all members of the group had to present that new innovation in front of everybody. At the last day, we had to take an exam, to pass the course. All students passed the exam.
Altogether, it was a lot to do, but we learnt a lot about Wind Power. Additionally, we met lots of new people and made new friends. We really recommend the summer school to engineering students with mechanical or electrical knowledge.»
Domenic Senn und Adrian Rupp
«I’m studying Engineering and Management at the ZHAW. This summer I had the opportunity to do an internship for two months at one of the leading Chinese tool manufacturers, the company Jiangyin SAT precision tools co., ltd. The company didn’t pay me money during my time there, but they paid me the hotel and the meals. Normally we had lunch in the factory and dinner in a restaurant. All the other things were born by myself, but the living costs in smaller cities aren’t that high, so this was no problem. Jiangyin SAT precision tools co., ltd is located in the province Jiangsu along the Yangtze river, near to Shanghai. The city is a small industrial city with their focus on metal industry and shipping industry.
The population of the city is about 2 Million, the factory is based in the industrial development zone of Jiangyin. In the office I was working at different projects, one project was a project for the marketing office, we had to design and correct the website of the company especially the English one. Later on I had the opportunity to go with my boss to visit some customers.
The company is famous for their Hobs and a lot of other types of tools. Their machines are mostly from German or Swiss companies, because they emphasise on European quality and European standards. The company in the last couple of years made significant investments for new machines. Their measuring equipment is at the newest western standard to prove the quality of the tools is the best in China. In the second month of my stay there I had the possibility to give them some ideas about the layout design of the new company building. I did this as well during other short internships in my father’s Company, so I know how to build up an efficient factory layout. I did this together with the assistant General Manager, we tried to apply some fundamentals of the factory layout theory.
On the picture you can see an animation of the new factory building, but until now they have already changed some things. The five workshops are not anymore all the same height, some of them got a second floor and they are only four workshops left, and the office building will get seven instead of four floors. But unfortunately the little park you can see on the picture will not be built like this, because there already is a gas station. The building should be finished with the end of this year and they want to move at the beginning of the next year. The problem was that this project they set up before they knew where they were going to build it. Normally in Switzerland you first buy the land and then start the planning, but here in China the communist party will decide where you can build your factory. You will also not be the owner of the land where your factory is located, it will always be owned by the government. But maybe this will change in the future, when China continues to open itself.
«During the time here, I learned a lot about Chinese business culture and their way of living and doing things.»
During the time here, I learned a lot about Chinese business culture and their way of living and doing things. For me it was a unique possibility to go there for two months. I’ve met a lot of new friends and possible future business partners. Normally in their company they work seven days a week even in the office, but each of them gets a day off if they want. I really could recommend all students from ZHAW to do an internship it’s an enrichment for yourself and a good part for you CV especially if you think about working abroad in the future.
On the picture below we were at a business dinner with the Korean and the two German agents. The other people are friends and people from the local government, our boss invited them to attend the dinner, most of them are part of the «drinking club» (that’s how we call it). This is pretty common in China, normally if you go for dinner with business partners you will meet a lot of people there. And because it is a business dinner everybody wants to drink a least one glass with you, and you have to do the same with all of them, one by one. It is also common that they smoke during the dinner, actually they are smoking everywhere at any time, even if it’s officially forbidden.
After the first month I had the honour to attend a lunch with the local Lions International Club, we enjoyed the lunch in our company. The boss then gave me the driver to send me back to my hotel. Some days later I had the luck because the company finished their last layer of the new building and they celebrated the finish with some fireworks and made sacrifices. Also in the evening they organized a big party with friends, employees and representatives from the local government. All in all there were around 160 people invited, to attend the party.
During my 2 days off I went to Shanghai to visit my parents, we did some sightseeing, we went to the Bund, to the east Nanjing Road, and visited an old part of Shanghai. In the next week I got back my passport for the visa extension, finally I was sure that I can stay until September in China.
A big plus in asian countries are business cards, I first took the business cards from my father’s company with me until I got the cards from the Chinese company. Chinese people like to give business cards to everybody. If you get them take them with two hands and look at it for a short time. Do not put them in your pocket directly after you got it, read them even if you don’t understand a word. If you want you also can create your own business cards as a student, then you can at least give them something too if you don’t have any others. At the picture you can see my business cards for my internship.
If someone wants to go to China for an internship I recommend you to learn the language a little bit, so that at least you can say some basic sentences, it will be very helpful for your time here. For example if you want to buy some things, or want to tell the taxi driver where you want to go. But if you stay in Shanghai there are a lot of people who are speaking English as well. I will never forget the time here in China and in the company, they offered me an unique possibility to learn more form my future
«Hope that I can go back to China as soon as possible.»
Hope that I can go back to China as soon as possible. Best greetings from Jiangyin in the Peoples Republic of China!»
Tobias Florian Bannwart
With eating a first burrito for breakfast we braced ourselves for the first presentation of the teams to representatives of Bühler. Tom Chase started today with a lecture about concept selection. After this lecture everyone seemed to be ready to present the Product Design Specifications to our customer Bühler before lunch. All the teams had really put a lot of effort into the presentations. Bob, the extruder technologist of Bühler, was impressed with our concepts. He could see high potential for many of our products we would like to design. If only there would be more time for us to realize all our ideas.
Right after lunch, we listened again to Toms lecture about modelling and estimation. This gave us some good inputs for the afternoon. We could finally start to work out various possible solutions for our given assignments.
While it’s raining in Zurich, we are glad to have very nice, warm weather here in Minneapolis. During the day we were working hard on the concept selection for the Bühler project. After the work was done, we had a chance to explore Minneapolis in the evening. A group of us students decided to go to Lake Calhoun in the center of Minneapolis and enjoy the warm weather by cooling down with a swim in the lake. After a nice dinner at a rooftop bar/restaurant in Downtown Minneapols, we went back to the Yudof Hall, our student housing, where we had some beers to conclude the evening.
On our second day we visited the branch of the Swiss Bühler company here in Plymouth, Minnesota, which is our industry partner for the project design seminar.The visit to see one of the twin-screw extruders for food production, like pasta, snacks, biscuits etc. at the site was very helpful to understand the structure and functions for the product design. After the visit the coach brought us back to the University of Minnesota, where we had the first lectures in Product Development by Prof. Tom Chase. After the lectures a whole group of us went to Chipotle, a Mexican restaurant, which Adam Pagel, the coordinator here in Minnesota, had suggested to us for dinner. On the way to Chipotle, we passed our ZHAW coordinators Dejan and Armin eating in another restaurant, which resulted in a fun group photo. We are enjoying the campus and the atmosphere very much, here at the University of Minnesota.