A Field Trip to Munich (Part 1)

As a self-proclaimed car nerd, Karsten enjoyed the HTS 2100 class’s trip to the BMW headquarters and manufacturing center! Check out his blog about the first part of the field trip.

Friday, October 11, 2019 | Written by Karsten

I am a car nerd. I can’t tell you how an engine works exactly, I don’t know the relationships between different parts, but I can name random facts about cars and correctly guess most higher end models from a fair distance away. When I signed up for the HTS 2100 class I’m in, I had no idea there were field trips involved (luckily, they didn’t mess with plans I had already made). Before this weekend, we had only had the one to Crystal Saint-Louis, but this weekend was the one I was most excited for about any of them on the list. We went to Munich to see the BMW factory and museum.

The field trip started after classes on Wednesday. Since our first train was at 5:38 PM, the 3:30 PM classes got to leave a little early to ensure that we made it with plenty of time. We were all good with trains until our last one, which we thought we were going to miss, got delayed, but people were getting food and so most people waited for the next one anyway. However, a trio of us didn’t get that memo, so we arrived in Munich an hour earlier than everyone else. We finally made it to our hostel at about 1:30 AM, and with breakfast at 7 AM, no one slept too well. From breakfast, we went to the FIZ, which is BMW’s information and R&D headquarters. We met with a few German interns, and they were our tour guides for the day. We went almost immediately to a Georgia Tech alum, Tomohiro, who currently works in acoustics, and his intern Nate, a current Georgia Tech student who was in this class last fall.

To see the impact of someone who knew nothing about acoustics and also knew no German a year ago definitely made me consider trying to get an internship for sometime next year. After learning about their jobs, we had lunch at the “small” cafeteria in the headquarters. Apparently, the one in the FIZ is substantially larger, but I guess that makes sense, as 15,000 people work there. We watched a few presentations after, and considering the little sleep we all got the previous night and the presentations being immediately after lunch, it was rather difficult to stay awake, but at least the topics were interesting.

After the presentations was the factory tour. The thing that stuck out the most about the factory tour was that the production of the body is over 99% automated, meaning that there are tons of robots doing all of the welding and shaping of the body. We also saw the production of the engines, seats, and the pairing of engines to the transmissions and to the body. While this isn’t the first car factory I’ve toured (I visited Lamborghini before my senior year of high school), it won’t be the last car factory I’ll tour (I’m visiting Porsche around Thanksgiving). And though the cars we saw in production (3 Series coupes and wagons and 4 series coupes) aren’t as interesting to me as, say, a Lamborghini Huracan or a Porsche 911, it was very in depth, and we got to see it all come together, which was very cool. 

This post is ending at about 5:00 PM on Thursday, meaning there is still almost a day’s worth of the field trip remaining, so stay tuned next week to see the post about the alumni meet and greet and the two museums we are going to on Friday.