3 months ago, we had the pleasure to host our St. Petersburg project participants in our beautiful “village” Munich. In turn, we took the opportunity to visit the “real city” St. Petersburg. We completed our project, went to see various cool technology facilities of the university, and we explored the city like there’s no tomorrow. Actually, there was none – thanks to the white nights.
Success stories of CompMechLab
We start off day 1 visiting a university facility with a name even longer than our Master program’s:
Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University Computer-Aided Engineering Centre of Excellence (CompMechLab®).
Hardly fits a line, but definitely fits our interests. Evgeniy presents some surprising success stories of CompMechLab: Shortly before the 300 years celebration of St. Petersburg’s founding, the angel on top of Peter and Paul Cathedral had stopped turning with the wind. As the sculpture sits at a height of 120 meters and the cathedral is among the main sights of the city, taking it off was best to be avoided. The engineers of CompMechLab simply created a computer model, identified the reason for the failure, and the problem was fixed in no time.
In another case, CompMechLab created a dynamic model of the high speed process of landing military aircrafts on aircraft carriers, and Evgeniy’s colleague presents their newest model: A super lightweight catamaran which is currently built in St Petersburg. Building a bridge to our project, we are shown some astonishing objects that were 3D-printed by the Lab.
Project work and a boat trip with pie
After tasting some interpretations of Russian delights at a universities canteen (it’s an experience ;)), we meet our Russian team members and present our project status quo. We spend the afternoon with preparations for the final presentation scheduled for the day after. Having finished this highly intense work session, the following boat trip on the main river Neva is precisely the kind of passive entertainment we need.
Vladimir, the senior business lecturer who takes us there, not only invites us on the boat trip, but he even brings along two large traditional Russian pies. Apart from being hungry for culture and history, we are also just hungry. For being a savior in the hour of need, Vladimir will go down in history as “the guy with the pie”.
We conclude the day at a café with Prof. Sudnik, who has evidently also had a tough job during our afternoon working session.
And more university institutes
The next day starts with tours through the Russian-German Laser Welding Centre and FabLab, a workshop where students can 3D-print own objects, realize their internet of things ideas, and use other machines such as a huge 100W laser with a rack of 100×200 cm or a lathe that was bought from Germany as garbage and refurbished for use. To our two engineering students from Munich, FabLab must feel like heaven.
Final presentations and a visit to Baltika beer brewery
After this, we come to the main reason why we flew all the way to St. Petersburg: To conclude the project with our final presentations. We arrive at the meeting room, and we are blown away by its professional setup. Only days before, in this same room, a Russian minister meeting had taken place. For our final presentations, 8 professionals made their way to evaluate the quality of our results and to give us feedback. Our three teams present their business ideas, and the feedback we receive ranges from destructive to highly promising. I must say that presenting at a room like this, in front of actual professionals, is a great experience I would not want to miss. Officially, we conclude the project with this, but our visit to St. Petersburg is not yet over.
Our project partners of Polytech have organized an excursion to Russian beer brewery Baltika. Even though most of the Germans in our group from Munich have seen similar before, I believe it is interesting to compare practices. For example, we are surprised that there is no recycling system in Russia, since it is supposedly not economical for the breweries. We wonder how all the tiny breweries in Germany can afford it then.
After the Baltika field trip, we are free to spend the evening to our taste(s). Some of us go on a quest to search the sea by bike (turns out an odyssea), while others haven’t seen enough beer yet and spend the evening at Craft’s Brew, waiting for the bridges over Neva to open – a popular attraction especially during those days in June when the sky doesn’t turn black.
Own excursions and our final project dinner with Prof. Sudnik
The nights are short in St. Petersburg, therefore the mornings are even shorter. The group of students I’m with manages to get to Peterhof by speed boat at 4 pm. Regardless the little time we have left, it is absolutely worth our visit. This “Russian Versailles” was built by Peter I. 300 years ago, and clearly reflects the emperor’s orientation towards western Europe.
In the evening, we meet with Prof. Sudnik for a last supper in Russia. Prof. Sudnik really was an incredibly supportive companion to all of us during this project and this trip, and he proved repeatedly that knows how to lift the spirits. Accordingly, we spend a wonderful final evening. Most of us left for Munich the following day while I stayed for the weekend with some others. We topped it all off with sunburns, Syrniki orgies, and getting locked up in a restaurant – perfect ending to the trip.
Many thanks to Prof. Sudnik for initiating and organizing and to our faculty for making this trip possible!
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