It started 4 months ago, when Prof. Sudnik asked our class if somebody would be interested in doing a ‘real project’ in the coming semester. Rather enigmatically, he told us we would collaborate with Russian students and it would be work-intensive. That’s exactly what I came for, I thought to myself – international experience and projects that can push me to the next level.
A Strascheg Real Project
Eventually, we got to know what the project would be about. In the framework of a Strascheg Real Project, we would form international teams with participants from St. Petersburg to work on the topic ‘3D printing in automotive’. Strascheg Real Projects are set up by Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship, an institute at Munich University of Applied Sciences. Prof. Klaus Sailer, director at Strascheg center, was the one to introduce us to the idea behind Real Projects: While following a particular suggested process from problem identification to solution finding, students are given maximum freedom within the topic, and the outcome is completely up to the participants. As Prof. Sailer put it, it’s a lot like working in the early stages of a start-up.
Our whole Master course joined in. For all student participants as well as our ‘guide by the side’ Prof. Sudnik, this was a first-time undertaking. Uncertainty and lots of challenges were guaranteed. Nonetheless – or maybe precisely because of this – it is absolutely worth every effort! When you’re done reading this half-time review, you will know why I would not want to miss this project.
It’s a lot like working in the early stages of a start-up
International and interdisciplinary setup
We started with forming three groups on the Munich side, each made up of 5 business students and one engineering student. Each Munich based group joined forces with a group of 6 Russians from both business and engineering study programs.
In the first two months, we could only communicate virtually using Skype, Slack, Trello, or else – the teams decided themselves. We found especially our Skype discussions inevitable for moving forward. However, finding a time slot for these calls was always a challenge. And so, our first physical team meeting was much anticipated.
‘The Russians are coming’
… we were joking in class. Prof. Sudnik and the other coordinators managed to arrange a 5 days visit of our Russians to Munich. On 27th April, they arrived to Munich Airport. Maria, a project participant from the Munich side who is originally from Russia, welcomed them and helped them get to their hostels. Our guests came right on time for Frühlingsfest – the spring version of Oktoberfest – where we spent a great, quite dynamic first evening with the Russian students.
The next morning, our guests were officially welcomed by Prof. Günzel, dean of the department of business administration, with Brezeln and a tour of our campus in Pasing.
Project work at Strascheg Center of Entrepreneurship
After that, we all came together at the Strascheg Incubator to present our current project statuses. Even though we were working on the same topic, each team was facing totally different challenges. One team had just finished an extensive research phase resulting in the identification of a real problem: Most mothers find their baby carriers too heavy and suffer of physical consequences from carrying their baby in it. The next step for this group was to find 3D printed solutions to this problem. Others had done in-depth research on the technical side of 3D printing and had already come up with 4 product ideas such as 3D printed tires.
After a highly informative presentation on 3D printing by the Russian supervisor and 3D printing expert Evgeniy Belosludtsev, we went to work in our teams. Extremely intense brainstorming sessions and discussion rounds left us completely exhausted at the end of the afternoon. Our coordinators must have anticipated this as they had booked a table at Löwenbräu Keller. With Prof. Sailer rewarding us for our hard work with Bavarian dinner and chilled beers, we managed to relax our strained nerves after all.
Excursion to 3D printing company EOS
Friday morning started with an excursion to EOS e-Manufacturing solutions, the global technology leader for high-end additive manufacturing solutions. The company is one of the success stories of Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship. We made a tour of their company premises and discovered mind-blowing 3D printed products.
Official part finished – Our guests explore Munich
Having returned to Strascheg Center, we made a tour of the Incubator where we met residing start-ups before the official part of the visit ended on Friday afternoon. Unofficially, we met with the Russian students to go ahead with a Friday evening program. Needless to say, the program included Bavarian beer and lots of fun. Our intercultural and interdisciplinary group had really found a common denominator.
Our guests still had Saturday to enjoy Munich, and they made good use of the time: Olympiapark, Allianz Arena and BMW Welt are just some of the sights they visited before we met in small groups to say goodbye for now.
St. Petersburg – get ready for us!
For now? Precisely, we will go to St. Petersburg at the end of June, where we will officially conclude the project. We can’t wait to see our new friends again and we are buzzing as it will be the first time in Russia for most of us!
Curious about our visit to St. Petersburg and the project results? Follow us on Facebook to stay tuned!