What do John F Kennedy, a famous cement wall and sausages with sauce have in common? Berlin, of course!
Every other year, the student organization Sterkstroomdispuut(SSD), which caters to Electrical Power Engineering students at TU Delft, organizes a student trip to Siemens factories and production facilities in Berlin, where the international firm was founded before any of the world wars occurred. This year, our friends at SSD, which is under Electrotechnische Vereeniging(ETV), managed to rope into our agenda a few more interesting locations, and surely, a hell lot of fun!
Just like every travel story, we set out on a journey by road on the 4th of May, a distance of almost 700 km. While I had heard a lot of the German autobahns, the free expansive roads allowing for a smooth cruise helped us cover the distance just within 8 hours of driving, and left us time to hop around the beautiful city of Berlin. With the warm weather and slippers on, we set on foot exploring Checkpoint Charlie, which is the third and most famous checkpoint between the East and the West regions of Berlin during the cold war. With chunks of Berlin wall still on display, the difference in politics and ideas between the two sides can be seen to this day. We ended our day with a scrumptious Italian meal!
Since our company tours had yet another day to be, we chose Sunday to laze around, and visit major tourist attractions. All 18 of us chose to go to the DDR museum, a museum dedicated to the division of Germany and Berlin, and its impact on daily life. While we could see technological advancements made, the costs were made very clear. The Berlin TV tower, which is close to the museum was a treat to visit, allowing us a birds-eye view of the historic city. But to view the same city with different eyes is a special chance- the boat ride along the river Spree was a totally different experience showing the more humane past- of parks, and greenery and glorious buildings!
We moved on to the next day when we visited two companies-Menzel Motors and GE Power Electronics, both based out of the city. They gave us an industrial perspective of how these huge machines are created, and a definite idea to conceptualize whatever we have studied in our textbooks. While GE Power Electronics dealt with the production of their products – power electronics and protection systems which are used after generation, Menzel motors create (you guessed it) motors. We moved on to Siemens the last two days, within which we visited three of their factories. Dealing with a wide range of products from HUGE electrical machines to protection systems and measurement instruments, the trip catered to every student’s specialization and their interest. We learned a lot about the methodology of design, why certain materials are used, new advancements in the sector among others. The general sense of enthusiasm in all of us was visible, despite the tiring past few days!
On our second last day, we went to an energy museum, which is dedicated to maintaining the olden relics of the electrical world: the first generation of cables, the old power plant models, how switches were designed, how ammeters worked and so on. They had, on display, items almost even a 100 years old. Just walking through a passage in time showed us how quick we have advanced as humans, and how much of a difference collaboration plays in moving us forward as a species using technology as a medium. Not all that well known, I would definitely recommend anyone going to Berlin to at least give this museum a visit!
Despite my rants in a previous blog on the busy quarter that is Q4, I am glad that I chose to take 1 week out of schedule to visit a new city, look at people, places, and knowledge from a different perspective. I was just able to squeeze my way into the trip as I took the last spot, but I have come to the conclusion – If you are in a doubt, choose what excites you!