Studying Engineering Abroad

LSU’s Encounter Engineering in Europe (E3) is a summer study abroad program in Germany, giving students hands-on learning experiences and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. This year’s 2015 cohort has created a blog to share their stories. Here are just a couple below, but you can check out their full blog at http://geauxe3.weebly.com/!

The beautiful city of Heidelberg

Welcome to BASF! posted June 26, 2015

Today started off earlier than normal. We had to be ready and out the door by 8:10. BASF had sent a bus to take us up from our hostel to their plant in Ludwigshafen, about 30 minutes away. The bus that was sent was a gift of its own- we didn’t have to walk a mile to the train station or take a public bus. But best of all, the bus had AIR CONDTIONING! For some reason, it seems Germans just don’t believe in air conditioning, I guess it’s not efficient enough for them. Anyway, we arrived at the plant’s front gate and Dr. Jessel, the head of recruiting, met us. From the front gate, I could see what I was really getting myself into. The shear size of some of the equipment was a little hard to believe. With our jaws still gaped open, Dr. Jessel welcomed us and handed out our guest passes for the plant. She began with saying that “last night was the fun, but today is the work.” I blew it off, thinking that we wouldn’t really do anything that hard. Man, was I wrong.

We were brought into a conference room where we were given water, juice, and cookies. We took our seats, and Dr. Jessel began her presentation on BASF and the company’s history. She gave us some of the statistics on the plant and mentioned that it is the world’s largest chemical plant run by a single company. She also discussed the products BASF manufactures such as polyethylenes, plastics, coatings, and paints. After her presentation, a process engineer named Stefan Höser, gave us a presentation on Advanced Process Control. He talked about the role he plays in maintaining constant and efficient production while avoiding problems like overheating or extreme pressures. We were then led to another building where we met Dr. Nübling, the butandiol plant manager.

He gave us a presentation on the plant then we got suited up in safety glasses and hard hats to tour the plant. He guided us up to the top of some of the platforms around 5 stories high, and we had to weave our way through the metal jungle of pipes, gages, and valves. We got some wonderful views of the plant, which the size of a small city. We later went to eat in one of the 8 canteens/restaurants on site and found out that the plant also has apartments, railways, roads, showers, laundromats, and 15,000 bikes. After we ate, we finished the day with a bus tour of the rest of the site and the BASF museum. It was an incredible experience to see such a large scale production in full force and get to know the people involved in the process. If the next three years go as planned, I can only wish to be a part of something as spectacular.

– Darrin Paul, Chemical Engineering Sophomore

Sunny Side Up: posted June 30, 2015

My stomach rumbled as I wandered into the dining room for breakfast. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the hotel had hot, fresh eggs! After a quick breakfast, I enjoyed the rest of my morning journaling on the terrace, with a breathtaking view of the Alps ahead of me. I met up with the group for class at 9 a.m. in one of the large conference rooms on the second floor. Bart began with a short German lesson consisting of laundry terms, so we could wash clothes at the hotel. We only had one mishap: the spin cycle was turned off for the first load, forcing Darrin to wring out his wet clothes and hang them up to dry.

Afterward, we formed groups of two to pull together the most important information from our BASF and Scheffel’s Brewery tours. The groups presented their findings and led the class in discussion. This exercise was followed by a Chase’s presentation on biodegradable plastics, which related to BASF’s Ecoflex.

We were then dismissed to work on our projects due this evening. My class, HNRS 2020, is writing individual cultural analysis papers, while the IE 4785 class is working on group video presentations on various forms of renewable energy. After lunch, class resumed at 1:30, and Stacey presented her research on the chemical instability of beer. We continued working on our projects well into the afternoon, and thankfully, the eggs we had for breakfast gave us enough fuel to finish our projects in time.

– Amy Olson, Civil Engineering Senior

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