Dortmund, Germany: My Global Perspective

By Joseph Tadros, Industrial & Systems Engineering

In the Spring of 2010, I studied in Berlin, Germany. The experience changed my life and I knew I had to return, so I applied to the Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) program. I wanted to obtain an international experience and also gain work experience in 

Industrial and Systems Engineering. In the Summer of 2011 I was accepted by RISE to work for Fraunhofer’s Institution of Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmand, Germany.

 

With the help of Dean Bernath, Dr. Pham, and Candiece White, I was able to receive funding from Rutgers University to work abroad. In the previous year in Berlin, I spent a lot of time with 


Americans. Consequently, the culture shock of having to adjust, and adjust quickly and independently, was a surprised. But once I started the first day of work at Fraunhofer, I knew I belong. My colleagues were welcoming. They were accustomed to working with international students and many of them also had study abroad experience, which helped them to sympathize with my difficulties.

After my first conversation with my colleagues, they quickly invited me on a weekend road trip to Berlin. The head of my department eventually invited everyone to his house for a gathering, and then to a water ski outing. I will forever remember their generosity.

Fraunhofer Institute was well known and respected for leading applied research in Europe. My department focused on warehouse functions and operations. The most efficient warehouse in Germany is fully automated because hiring manual laborers is more costly. This fully automated warehouse contrasts drastically with American warehouses, which are driven by manual labor. With this difference, German engineers have been able to develop more innovative ideas and technologies for warehouses across the world.

My work entailed creating a Lean workshop simulation for warehouse operations, producing brochures for international vendors, presenting a presentation on the implementation of Lean Six Sigma towards warehouse operations, and assisting the market team to translate surveys for vendors. Though I did not have a strong background in German, nearly all of my colleagues spoke English. Consequently, my work was done in English.

Studying abroad helps people to broaden their global perspective. It also infects people with the “travel bug,” which makes them enthusiastic about experiencing new and exciting opportunities. If a student is currently debating whether to travel abroad or not, I would advise him or her to not worry about major requirements or time constraints or even financial issues because the School of Engineering at Rutgers University is there to help and assist with concerns and needs. Finally, I would assure the student that the sacrifices needed to go abroad are worth it, and that he or she will have an experience that will last a lifetime.