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South Germany via Hochschule Biberach

From May 11 to May 22, 2015, Hochschule Biberach hosted ten students from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA and three students from British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Vancouver, Canada. For me, the notable things about Germany were: the hospitality and generosity; the efficient engineering; the architecture that blended historical and modern elements; and the beautifully developed landscape.

view of Ulmer Munster through a modern bridge in germany
Contrasting view of Ulmer Münster through a modern bridge. (Bown, 2015)

During the first week, we studied statistics with first-year engineering students from Biberach complemented with smaller social events. All the Biberach students were warm and friendly; they went for lunch with us and were excited to explain their life in Germany. It was great to work with them and reciprocate a little by helping them with the statistics. Every evening, there was always something fun to do whether it was planned or spontaneous. We enjoyed a tour of Biberach and learned some local history. We also visited a bio-mass facility at a local dairy farm, a 498-year old private castle undergoing restoration, and the city of Ulm. In Ulm, we walked along the Danube River and climbed the tallest church spire in the world at Ulmer Münster. Along with these excursions, we sampled some great regional food and beer. By the end of the first week, we were very excited to see more of Germany and, of course, visit more with the locals.

The second week schedule was an extended road trip that included destinations throughout south Germany and a stop in Switzerland. The innovation, efficiency, and eco-mindedness of German engineering was apparent in the facilities we visited:

  • a large-scale bio-mass center
  • a municipal heating plant
  • a passive-building office center
  • an eco-village in Freiberg
  • the Olympic Village in Munich which was built in the early 1970’s
view of Neuschwantein Castle with trees and mountains surrounding it.
Neuschwantein Castle

I was very impressed with the thoughtful and holistic planning as well as the commitment to longevity of the projects. We also enjoyed a trip to Neuschwantein Castle and many interesting local historic areas. The finale of the excursions was a visit to a sanitary manufacturing company in Switzerland. It was amazing to see the engineering at the Geberit company with their multiple labs and impressive display/training facility. A final note on the tour would be to express thanks to the Biberach students that drove for the trip. They did an excellent job of transporting us, translating menus, and sharing their knowledge about the region.

I would recommend to all students that are offered this opportunity to take it. Hochschule Biberach hosted a great 2-week program. They planned a great variety of experiences and were wonderful hosts. Much can be learned from the way other cultures approach engineering and problem-solving. South Germany is very beautiful. It has rolling fields dotted with pockets of forests and quaint towns. History is everywhere but there are modern adaptations and sleek architect to contrast the classic structures. It was nice to share the visit with the American students. I think mixing the two school from North America really contributed to experience by increasing the diversity of the experience. Many thanks to the faculty that make the trip possible. I cannot wait for my next trip!

portrait of Myles & Katherine with German Host Massimo
Myles & Katherine with German Host Massimo, center

Katherine Bown
4th Year Civil Engineering, BCIT