Purdue Polytechnic’s Central European Multinational Automobile Organization Supply Chain Experience

2016-2019 Rotary Reflections

It is times like this, in the Spring of 2020, when one especially reflects on how wonderful the outside world really is…

Several years ago, the Purdue Polytechnic’s transformation of the undergraduate learning experience added humanities into its traditionally technical framework, specifically the “integration of topics in the humanities that enrich our students’ understanding of historical, contemporary and future technology in society” and the “integration of topics in the humanities and other disciplines that foster critical thinking and logic”.  In fulfillment of these worthy aims, my Study Abroad was designed in 2016 to provide students with experiences in not only the technical aspects of globalization through tours of automobile factories and massive ports but also cultural and social aspects, including visits to local Rotary clubs.

Being able to integrate into local cultures is an important ingredient in international organizational success, as cultural awareness and global organizational success are directly linked.  Some of the students on past trips had never been on a plane or out of the state of Indiana.  To them, a key component of local immersion is insight related to local food and regional cuisine.  This plays a big role in organizational relationships because the food of a region provides a link to history, culture, common bonds, and social relationships, and Rotary provides the perfect opportunity to learn about formal dining in different cultures.

During our trip, students have plenty of time to eat in laid-back scenarios where they can discover local cuisine, but for our trip, they are required to bring at least one business casual outfit for Rotary meetings.  A formal European dinner always moves slowly than dinners in America, and students gain this experience through our Rotary meetings.  In Europe, Rotary dinner meetings are two hours, which includes social hour, followed by a sit-down with appetizers, followed by the entree, followed by coffee and then the program.  Meetings generally include 15-30 persons.

In order to integrate Rotary into the trip, I first go to Rotary International’s “Club Finder” (https://my.rotary.org/en/search/club-finder) and filter the local clubs that have meetings on dates when we may have the available free time.  Then I take a look at the clubs’ websites to contact them in order to see if they can accommodate our group.  I let them know where I’m from and let them know I’ll bring a flag from my local club to present to their president.

We make sure to spread ourselves around so that students have the opportunity to engage and converse with Rotarians in a meaningful way.  This is often their first experience with any service club.  Students see how to manage and lead a meeting because they witness firsthand how the club President conducts the meeting.  Most importantly, they gain an understanding of how a service club functions.  Usually the President opens the meeting by welcoming guests, in which case I get up and describe who I am, where my local club is located, why our Study Abroad is in the city, and what we like most about the city.

Below are pictures of European Rotary clubs where I have conducted the traditional exchanging of the flags with the club president.  Upon our return home, as is Rotary custom, I present the flags of the European clubs to my local club President during a meeting.

 

I’ve found that Rotarians from local clubs are always so nice and welcoming, both to myself and the students.  This is the main reason I keep bringing students back.  I appreciate that most European Rotarians are able to speak English with the students.  In the majority of the visits, the program/speaker accommodates us by switching to English, and the club President often switches to English to accommodate us.  Several meetings have been especially memorable…

One meeting in 2018 was in a far-away suburb of Munich, about 45 minutes via train from the city center.  It was a nice way to get away from the touristy areas, and we were assured that we would be enjoying authentic Bavarian cuisine.  We were especially lucky that the program (guest speaker) included the 2017-2018 Bavarian Beer Queen, who brought samples for everyone (see pictures below).

 

Another Rotary club in Rotterdam we attended in 2017 meets at the local soccer stadium, home of the Excelsior professional team, which has been in existence since 1902.   A friendly Rotarian there allowed us access to the stadium after the meeting and showed us their newly installed field turf.  Their stadium is the smallest of all professional soccer stadiums in the Netherlands.  The traditional exchange of the Rotary flags was notable, since the creator of their club’s flag was in attendance.  He chose to include a common Port vessel as their Rotary logo (he is the gentleman second to the right in the picture below).

 

Another notable Rotary meeting was in 2019 in Rotterdam, which led me to research more about the Dutch and Rotary.  The first Rotary club in the Netherlands was chartered in 1923.  Rotary became so successful in the Netherlands that by 1928, American Rotary founder Paul Harris visited some Dutch Rotary clubs.  Today, the Netherlands has 478 clubs around the country.  This meeting was held at the Rhoon Castle, which was built in the 12th century.  The program was presented by an employee of Royal Dutch Shell, who discussed the company’s future in innovation (see pictures below).

 

Rotary has a special significance in Hamburg.  “The first Rotary Club in Germany was founded in 1927 in Hamburg: it was the first Germany city to bridge the divide to the United States since the First World War” (Rotary International, 2016).  The speaker during a 2017 visit was the Director of the Hamburg Planetarium, Thomas Kraupe, the former President of the International Planetarium Society and a world-renowned physicist who recently oversaw the modernization and new launch of the Hamburg Planetarium.  We were ready for a German language presentation, but he graciously changed to English to accommodate us.  Dinner was held at the exclusive Hafen Club, where we were able to look down at the Port of Hamburg, which we had toured the previous day.  We were even able to see a container vessel loading cargo (see picture below, left).

 

Rotarians are always warm and friendly, and it’s been a fun time for our students.  They are treated as equals, which has offered an inviting vibe in our most personal settings during the trip.  This not just anecdotal.  One year, as part of a research project, I surveyed students to gauge the different effects of cultural versus technical experiences on student experiences, and meetings of Rotary were rated highest of all events.  Based on student survey data, I wrote an academic paper entitled “The Impact of Two Different Styles of Excursions During a Short-Term Undergraduate Study Abroad Experience”, which was published in the Global Journal of Human-Social Sciences in 2019.  Rotary’s service in helping me with that research is appreciated.  And Rotary connecting these students from Purdue University to the world is very appreciated!  Fast-forward to Spring, 2020, and these global connections are appreciated more than ever.

The fourth and final leg of the trip was to Rotterdam, Netherlands, 499 km from Hamburg.

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP): 12% (World Bank) 

Rotterdam is a progressive, multicultural city whose mayor is the first in the country to be an immigrant (a Muslim, no less).  New Economy (2016) noted that “Rotterdam has embraced innovation and experimental programs in order to develop into one of the world’s most sustainable cities.”  It has been chosen as the host of the 2025 World Expo, an international conference that addresses major global issues.  In the past generation visitors have been “drawn to the city because of its new smooth running transportation networks” (Rotterdam Marketing, 2016).  The New York Times (2014) included Rotterdam as a top global “Place to Go”, Lonely Planet (2016) named it one of the world’s top 10 cities, and the Independent (2019) listed it among the best European cities to visit.  It is quickly becoming a hot tourist destination, with overnight stays in hotels going up by double-digit percentages in recent years (Economische Verkenning Rotterdam, 2016)

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1) Multinational Automobile and Supply Chain Tours:

The Netherlands employs the smallest percentage of its citizens in manufacturing of all European nations (European Union Eurostat, 2019) but serves as a supply chain epicenter.  The Port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe and an integral cog in the European supply chain and handles more cargo than any American port.  The Port currently boasts “safety, accessibility and sustainability” as key priorities (Port of Rotterdam, 2019).  In hopes of becoming the smartest port on earth, Dutch leaders recently put forth a comprehensive plan called Port Vision 2030.  The Port recently received a loan of €900 million from the European Investment Bank due to the need for increased capacity, and it has been labeled by the EIB as a “vital organ” of the European region (European Investment Bank, 2015).  Annually, it sees 323.2 million metric tons of incoming throughput and 145.7 of outgoing throughput (Port of Rotterdam, 2019).  Automation and technology in the Port are constantly being upgraded.  Automated cranes usually pick up and unload containers, and only 50,000 of 19 million containers are inspected in full.

The Dutch are trying to enhance their already vital bicycle culture.  Bikes are an important means of transportation for Dutch citizens, and the Dutch zest for innovation has translated into more than 3 million electric bikes being used in the country.  The Dutch Parliament has banned sales of petrol and diesel automobiles by 2025, so all vehicles sold in the country will be electric by that year.  In 2019, 200,000 of the 8 million cars in the country are already electric.  The picture (left) shows a typical bike rack around the perimeter of a tree in social areas of the city to accommodate bicycle transportation, and the picture below (right) displays the bike repository beneath Central Station where we picked up and deposited our bikes and where hundreds of thousands more bikes are secured.

 

 

There are said to be 13.5 million active cyclists in the country out of a population of only 16.5 million, the most per-capita bike usage of any country.  Reflecting Dutch culture, our Port tour was by bicycle.  Our tour guide first provided us a history of the construction of various phases of the Port, which tends to coincide with the peak of imports and exports of certain products.  For instance, the massive Container Terminal was built in the 1960’s to accommodate the influx of American electrical appliance imports.  Each area is constantly being modernized, including full automation in the Container Terminal.  1 of 3 consumer products in the EU goes through the Port of Rotterdam at some point.  Below are pictures from our bike tour of the port.

 

 

Rotterdam truly thrives because of its supply chain management capabilities.  As we learned from our tour of the BMW factory, automobiles produced in Germany are often transported and exported via train.  We had the opportunity to see this firsthand at a train station en route to Rotterdam (see below).

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Supply chain achievements such as bimodal transportation of cars from factory to rail to the port are what Rotterdam does best

 

2) Cultural Excursions and Immersions:

Our hotel was located on the port’s former wine harbor.  All legal wine coming into the city was required to enter via this route.  Generally, food in Rotterdam is high in carbohydrates, allegedly because foods high in carbs were needed for the working class during the formation of the country.  Similar dishes are eaten for breakfast and lunch in Rotterdam, consisting of bread (bagels) with toppings such as Dutch cheese.  Mashed potatoes are common for dinner, and natural juices are a customary beverage.  Many students noted that bottled water and juice were again served in a glass bottle with a separate glass to drink from, like all other cities on our trip.

De Rotterdamsche Oude is a Rotterdam-made cheese developed to compete with the Amsterdam-made cheese that was being served at De Kuip, a famous Rotterdam sports stadium.  The stadium owners decided to develop their own cheese they could claim for the city.  This Rotterdam cheese can officially be called old if it has been aged more than 1 year.  Below is a typical Rotterdam Cheesehouse (or “Kashuis”), which includes the Rotterdam De Rotterdamsche Oude (old cheese).

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Typical high-end Rotterdam cheese company

 

Our group went on a South Holland Food Tour.  Among other distinctly Dutch items, we had stroopwafel (Dutch cookie made of caramel and waffles baked in a waffle iron), Dutch bitterballen (gooey meatballs with a crispy coating), and Dutch-seasoned French fries eaten on a stick, dipped in mayonnaise.

 

The Holland Amerika Line was a cargo and transportation fleet originating at the Port that operated from 1873-1989.  It took millions of travelers from Europe to America, including many persecuted European Jews before and during WWII.  The Holland Amerika Line building is shown below in the picture on the left.  The logistical center of the port (shown rising above the Holland Amerika Line building in the far right of the picture) coordinates all vessel transportation and management of the Port.  The traditional last-stop of our food tour, the Fenix Food Factory where we had Dutch cheese, is located across the harbor and it is scheduled to be torn down so that a museum dedicated to the Holland Amerika Line can be built.

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The photo below shows the students near the statue of sixteenth-century philosopher Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus.  Erasmus is widely considered to be the Dutch George Washington.

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Purdue University students in front of the Erasmus statue in Rotterdam

 

Rotterdam’s newly renovated central train station, our destination point from Hamburg, was constructed in the square-mile area of the City Center district.  This area was completely flattened on May 14, 1940 during the Rotterdam Blitz, the surprise aerial attack by the German Air Force in the midst of official German-Dutch negotiations and prompted immediate surrender by the Dutch government.  In their desire to gain immediate control over the integral Port of Rotterdam, the Germans threatened to destroy Amsterdam next if the Dutch did not surrender.  The Dutch were neutral in World War I, but were one of the first targets of the Germans in World War II.  Only 4% of buildings survived the Blitz.  The 79th anniversary of the Blitz occurred a few weeks before our visit.  Throughout the city are reminders of the Rotterdam Blitz and the city-wide fire that ensued.  Markers at the boundaries of the fire show the perimeters of the fire within the city, as pointed out by our tour guide in the picture below.

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The Church of St. Lawrence (seen below) is the only medieval building left in Rotterdam.  Interestingly, Erasmus lived a block away from the Church of Lawrence and was born during the initial construction phase of the church.  Below, the St. Laurence church after the Rotterdam Blitz (right; picture from Wikipedia) and how it looks today (left).  The church was intentionally left by the Germans as an aerial landmark.

 

Rotterdam’s modern architectural look exists only because local leaders decided to rebuild in modern style after the Rotterdam Blitz.  An example is the Markthal (Market Hall, see photo below), a public venue built in 2014 that has been labeled the food mecca of the Netherlands.  It contains 96 restaurants and 228 apartments.  Because Rotterdam’s City Center was rebuilt with mostly office buildings after World War II, there tended to be a problem for businesses after the close of the workday due to the lack of activity.  Since the 1980s, new venues have been built with apartments and residential accommodations in mind.

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We visited the Windmills at Kinderdyk, which are 19 windmills built in 1738-1740, originally intended to pump the excessive amounts of water out of the local village into a reservoir.  Water from the Rhine River in Switzerland has long been a problem for the Dutch.  Today they pay €250 per family in taxes for water management each year.  It costs the country €5 billion annually to manage the water supply.  We learned that the Dutch are commercializing this area, as we now had to pay €7 per person to see the windmills, and noticed a massive museum being built.  Some commented that this is very American.

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The emphasis on pedestrians and bicycle riders was apparent in our logistics.  Unlike the other cities on the Study Abroad, Rotterdam gives precedence to bikes and pedestrians at all crossings, with the recognizable red bike lanes seemingly everywhere (see picture below).  In lieu of any specific stop signal, pedestrians and bikes assume the right-of-way, and as such the red bike paths were very noticeable, which also accommodate mopeds and and some delivery vehicles like the innovative bike lane-accessible UPS vehicle (see picture below, right).  Getting around in Rotterdam was a unique experience and stood as a reminder that every city we visited during our trip was different in its own unique way.

 

Built in 1914, the City Hall of Rotterdam (the Stadhuis op Coolsingel in Dutch) is one of the very few buildings in the city to survive the German bombing campaigns in World War II.  It was no coincidence that City Hall survived the German bombs during the Rotterdam Blitz.  German aerial precision strategically spared the City Hall and Post Office, since the records and data kept there would help them identify any supposed political enemies of Germany.  Below is a picture of the outside of City Hall (left) as well as the nearby Post Office (right), with visible bullet holes from when German soldiers invaded the buildings in the immediate aftermath of the Rotterdam Blitz.

 

The first Rotary club in the Netherlands was chartered in 1923.  Rotary became so successful in the Netherlands that by 1928, American Rotary founder Paul Harris visited some Dutch Rotary clubs.  Today, the Netherlands has 478 clubs around the country.  The Rotary meeting we attended was held at the Rhoon Castle, which was built in the 12th century.  The program was presented by an employee of Royal Dutch Shell about the company’s future in innovation.

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Rotary Club meeting at Rhoon Castle

 

 

3) History of Capitalism/Trade:

The corporate tax rate in the Netherlands is lower than that of neighboring Germany and France, and many attribute this business-friendly rate to the rise of Rotterdam as an affluent, global city during the past 20 years.  Many multi-national companies thrive in Rotterdam as they take advantage of the city’s logistical amenities, including access to efficient water transportation.

Water transportation is an important component of many harbor towns, and Rotterdam is no different.  Erasmus University in Rotterdam features the internationally recognized School of Economics and School of History, Culture, and Communication.  One means of getting to Erasmus University and around the port is by water taxi, which is free for all college students attending school in Rotterdam.  We also had the opportunity to utilize water taxis to better get from place to place.  The Erasmus bridge can be seen from the water taxi (below, upper right).  We also utilized a waterbus to get from point to point on our Port tour (seen in pictures below).  A technological map of the Water Taxi system at the Port of Rotterdam (below, upper left) is an innovative approach to port logistics.

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Rotterdam water taxis have engines from Columbus, IN-based Cummins

 

One modern usage of the Port of Rotterdam includes the RDM (Research, Development, and Manufacturing) Innovation Dock, a collaborative effort with Hodgeschool Technical College.  The campus runs several operations in the Innovation Dock, which is a group of inter-modal manufacturing workspaces occupied by young entrepreneurs who seek improved supply chain access for their products.  Pieter Van Gelder designed the Innovation Dock area to include a community of houses and residential spaces behind it (which we toured) so workers wouldn’t have to travel far for work.  Today, student machining and robotics labs work in conjunction with the Innovation Dock’s startup organizations.  Students attending different colleges and universities located on or near the harbor are often employed by these startups.  We were able to look around at the various projects, including a new energy concept for a Formula 1 vehicle.

 

 

As is the way with Study Abroads, there were interesting adventures with surprises around every corner.  The statue pictured below was intended to be a Santa Claus with a Christmas tree.  The locals commonly refer to it by a different name.

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Like other aspects of its infrastructure, Rotterdam actively pursues modernization to help facilitate transportation in the city.  Parking meters are modern and electric charging stations are common on the streets.  The Rotterdam Climate Initiative is a comprehensive plan to turn the city green, including the Port.  Below are pictured (left to right) a phone charging device commonly located at local establishments, one of the 1,800 electric car charging stations in the city near parking spots, and a smart parking meter that drivers can locate via GPS if they lose track of their vehicle.

 

Guy Myers never seemed to run out of energy and enthusiasm, and capped off his Central European tower-hopping spree by climbing the tower of the famous Rotterdam Euromast to the 96-meter high observation platform, or “crow’s nest”.  Like Hamburg’s TV tower, this structure provides navigational guidance to its citizens and a beautiful view of the city from above.  It was designed for the Dutch Floriade, an international festival held every 10 years.

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Keep exploring!…that’s a wrap.

The third leg of the trip was to Hamburg, Germany, 490 km from Prague.

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP): 21% (World Bank)

Hamburg is widely considered the most international of all German cities and has the highest percentage of international residents in Germany at 14% (LabourEconomics, 2019).  It has a notable history in trade dating back to the Middle Ages and is credited with helping to bring the Germanic region out of the Middle Ages because of its access to both import and export markets.  In 1410 Hamburg to the initiative to draft a city constitution, known as “the first Rezeß”, which included dispute resolution policy and gave power of due process to citizens, a revolutionary civil liberty for the era.

Hamburg has a rich history in supply chain management.  The Hamburg-America shipping line was the world’s largest trans-Atlantic supply chain organization in the beginning of the twentieth century and was known for its efficiency in operations.  The availability and access to German ports such as the port of Hamburg have been integral to the economy of the country.

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Students at the Port of Hamburg

 

Hamburg is the global economic trading center of the North Sea and Baltic Sea regions and the regional hub of international trade (Hamburg Business Development Corporation, 2016), as well as being home to 40,000 official millionaires.  Our city tour included Hamburg’s exclusive shopping district, Mönckebergstraße, a 600 meter-long exclusive urban promenade that is considered the European version of New York’s Fifth Avenue.  It is the home of Europe’s largest Apple store (seen in the picture below, left) and internationally renowned fashion names like Tiffany & Co., Gucci, and Louis Vuitton.  The Cartier jewelry shown in the picture below (right) was in a window display and sells for €42,100.

 

 

Our visit to Mönckebergstraße also allowed us to visit the Tesla showroom.  One student, Cody Phillips, works for Ahaus Tool Engineering as a CNC machinist.  Like many students on the trip, Cody is earning his Purdue degree and studying abroad not to help start his career but instead to enhance it.  His company builds automation cells that keep batteries from overheating.  These cells are installed into the wall mount for Tesla batteries (as seen below, top right).

 

 

1) Multinational Automobile and Supply Chain Tours:

The Port of Hamburg is the second-largest port in Europe, 106 kilometers from the open sea.  The city is called the “Gateway to the World” by German citizens because of the vast trade volume facilitated by the port, including more than 9.73 million TEUs which pass through it annually.  The city has 2,500 bridges (second only to New York), many of which connect portions of the Port to the City.  In May 1189, Kaiser Friedrich Barbarossa decreed that the Port be a customs-free zone for all merchants.  Like Prague, Hamburg’s supply chain strengths have been susceptible to political change and turbulence.  For example, the 1923 Hamburg Uprising was a post-war plot to seize control of the city by local communists several years after the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the German defeat in WWI, when hyperinflation and economic chaos were rampant and access to global products through the port was prohibited.

As we had been in Munich, we were reminded of the central force that Germany has been in European politics over the past century when we saw the many pro-EU billboards (see picture below) and flyers posted around town to encourage voting for the EU Parliament, which was to be held a week after we departed.  Germany has a major stake in a strong EU, which will make their already strong economy even stronger.

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We noticed the same pro-EU campaign messages as in Munich

 

One of the causes of the fall of the Berlin Wall may have been the smuggling of products into East Germany through the Port, which saw a spike in business after the reunification of Germany and the fall of the Iron Curtain.  Today, the Port pairs 45.8% of its services with rail (1,300 freight trains per week), 12.2% with inland water vessels, and 42% with trucking transportation (Hamburg Port Authority, 2019).  Its main trading partners include China, Russia, Brazil, the US, and Norway.  Innovative supply chain capabilities allow the Port to transport 138.2 million tons of goods per year.  The harbor’s birthday, which is observed during the first week of May in a festival called Hafengeburtstag, is one of the most celebrated cultural events of the year.

We took a tour of the Port of Hamburg by boat, which provided us enough speed to cover the massive port and its four modern container terminals. We saw the 3 million-TEU capacity Altenwerder Terminal, one of the most modern container terminals in the world.  We learned that the container terminal area can handle 20,000-square foot cargo containers, which is the largest type of container currently in use and were fortunate to be able to see export cargo containers being loaded onto transport vessels and import cargo loaded onto trains.

 

 

While getting around in Hamburg, we had yet another opportunity to learn about the logistics of the local U-Bahn, S-Bahn, and tram system.  Several students took the initiative in helping our group on and off the various lines so that we could more efficiently find our destinations.  Due to successful taxi-union lobbying, Uber was not available in Hamburg and so we especially needed to learn their public transportation.  Hamburg’s system was a bit more technologically advanced than Munich’s, with screens inside the trains showing soccer scores and GPS-like maps of upcoming stops (as seen in the picture on the right).

 

 

2) Cultural Excursions and Immersions:

As in many European countries, cultural and societal values in Germany vary from region to region.  While Munich’s residents comprise a traditional 70% Catholic to 30% Protestant demographic, Hamburg’s residents comprise the opposite percentage (not counting recent immigrants).  The food of Northern Germany is different from the food of Southern Germany.  In Hamburg, carp is a favorite for Christmas and New Year’s meals.  Other popular items include lobster soup, currywurst, savoy cabbage and duck and/or goose-related dishes.  There is greater emphasis on global spices and seasonings in Hamburg’s cuisine.  Many of the students commented that Hamburg’s food seemed to be less stereotypically German.  In order to sample a variety of foods from different cultures, one night we had a group dinner at a locally-owned (there are very few chain restaurants in Europe) Italian restaurant (below).

 

 

The Port contributes to the profits of 7,300 organizations in the Hamburg city limits, many within Speicherstadt, or HafenCity, which is a newly gentrified district of Hamburg that is also the world’s largest official warehouse district.  It has recently been awarded the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, “a unique symbol of the rapid international growth of trade in the late 19th and early 20th century” (Deutsche Welle, 2016).  Speicherstadt was the first section to be zoned as office-only in Europe (Deutsche Welle, 2015).  We hopped off the harbor tour boat at HafenCity.

In HafenCity, our group visited the Prototyp Car Museum, whose aim is to convey passion for beautiful design and powerful engines (Hamburg Tourismus, 2017).  Racing and sports cars from the past and current century were displayed, and technology enthusiasts are their target demographic.  Included were the Porsche Type 64, considered a forefather of all Porsche sports cars, and Formula One racing legend Michael Schumacher’s first official car (Hamburg Tourismus, 2019).  Several students drove the simulated orange Porsche shown below in a video game format (in a picture below, top right).  This excursion was particularly relevant for Evan Knight (in a picture below, top left), a technician at Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, an auto racing team in the IndyCar series.  He repairs/maintains the primary and backup race cars for the team.

 

 

During our free time in HafenCity, several students visited the nearby Maritimes Museum.  You can see the old cranes on top of the building, which were utilized to lift goods from vessels below (below, left).

 

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In HafenCity, after free time, waiting on the harbor boat to pick us up.

 

Another local cultural excursion included attending a Hamburg Rotary meeting.  Rotary has a special significance in Hamburg.  “The first Rotary Club in Germany was founded in 1927 in Hamburg; it was the first German city to bridge the divide to the United States since the First World War” (Rotary International, 2015).  We were ready for a German language presentation, but the presenter changed to English to accommodate us.  The topic of the presentation was innovation in fashion.  The hosts were very gracious and welcoming, and the food was excellent.  This was a semi-formal evening for everyone and a nice opportunity to enjoy German culture at its best.

 

 

3) History of Capitalism/Trade:

HafenCity Universitat has taken the lead in the urban planning of Hamburg, and we had the opportunity to take a walking tour of the city.  The astute planning of the city center has resulted in great economic strength for the city.

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Our tour guide explaining the layout of Hamburg’s city center

 

The historic city center includes the neo-renaissance Town Hall (which the Chamber of Commerce now partially inhabits), home to the Senate and Parliament.  Most buildings were destroyed by Allied air raids during the end of World War II, but this one was lucky to have only minor damage.

 

 

While inside the Town Hall, we were treated to a visit for the first time to the emperor’s hall, where official presentations are made.  The day we were there, hundreds of Hamburg city police officers were strolling through the area because they had their annual swearing-in ceremony.

 

 

Also while in the Town Hall, we noticed a statue of Vanir, the Norse god of commerce and wealth (below, top left), depicted prominently in the Chamber of Commerce.  Shortly after, our tour guide told us that there was a convention focusing on innovative foods being held.  Like the city of Indianapolis, much of the tourism in Hamburg comes from trade conventions.  Timing is everything, and the numerous food samples provided to us in this convention were an unexpected treat.

 

 

The photo below shows the Chamber of Commerce display of the Wapen Von Hamburg II, a 1722 warship that was commissioned to accompany the lucrative Hamburg merchant ships and defend them from pirates.  During one voyage, pirates attacked the merchant ships that the Wapen Von Hamburg II protected.  Admiral Berend Jacobsen Karpfanger was able to fend off most of the pirates while the merchant ships got away, and died in heroic fashion toward the end of the battle.  His bravery in defense of Hamburg trade is legendary.

 

 

Our Beatles tour provided everyone an opportunity to walk through the Hamburg Reeperbahn in the St. Pauli district, which many consider to be the continent’s version of the Vegas strip.  This area stood in stark contrast to Hamburg’s city center and reflects a varied aspect of German culture.  This is where the Beatles first toured and sharpened their musical skills and synergies from 1960-1962 before they became famous back home in Liverpool, England and soon thereafter worldwide.

After World War II, the Hamburg live music scene was thriving.  The locals had grown accustomed to American rock and roll because of access to imported records available to buy locally via the Port of Hamburg.  Citizens in Hamburg enjoyed and appreciated 1950s-style rock and roll artists such as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard, and these music fans were willing to pay to see the similarly-styled Beatles in their local clubs.  The Beatles and the music scene in Hamburg were truly ahead of their time in the early 1960s.

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Students at Beatlesplatz

 

Our Beatles tour included a stop at the Kaiserkeller (picture below at the top), the oldest live rock and roll venue in Hamburg, where the Beatles played a series of gigs in 1960.

 

 

Unlike the polished, professional look of Ed Sullivan-era Beatles in 1964 New York, the Beatles in Hamburg were more like Ramones-esque punk precursors who wore black leather jackets and stomped and chanted so much on the stage that the audience often went into a frenzy.  They kept up this spirit when hanging out in Hamburg during their free time.  Their favorite place to let loose was a shipping-themed pub with model ships and a shipping compass called Gretel & Alfons, where we were treated to a private concert/singalong of Beatles songs by our tour guide.  Paul McCartney lived in a flat right above it in 1962 and famously left an open drinking tab, which he paid back with compound interest in 1989.

 

 

So, a go-to trivia question is “Who did Ringo replace in the Beatles?”.  The answer is Pete Best.  An even more obscure trivia question is, “Who replaced Ringo in his band Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, when he left for the Beatles?”.  Well, the answer is Gibson Kemp, who wandered into Gretel & Alfons during our singalong.  He is good friends with our tour guide, who was depicted in a prominent LA Times article published few days before our tour.

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LA Times article released a few days before our Beatles tour, featuring our Beatles guide: https://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-travel-beatles-hamburg-germany-20190512-story.html

 

Based on student feedback about their free-time last year, Hamburg’s tourist destination Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest model railway exhibition, was added to the official group itinerary.  It features scale-models of airports, concert venues, and hillside communities.

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Students use their free time for all sorts of additional experiences, and these are often the most rewarding and memorable times during these trips.  As usual, student-initiated exploration during free-time became a favorite component of the visit.  In Hamburg, Guy Myers of Purdue Polytechnic Vincennes continued to explore.  One morning he and a few other students woke up early to go to the Hamburg Sunday morning fish market, “Hamburger Fischmarkt”, a massive weekly festival at the port that caters to both night owls and early risers.  He also took time to see St. Nikolai, a local cathedral built in the 12th century that was partially burned down during the Great Fire of Hamburg in 1845.  This church was one of the five original Protestant churches in the city and was the world’s tallest building from 1874 to 1876.  After being bombed in Allied air raids at the end of World War II, the only part left standing was the steeple.  Guy and his group climbed the 75-meter high steeple (see pictures below), and explored the memorial and the museum in the crypt area.

 

 

Car-watching in Europe reached a high point in Hamburg as students attempted to point out all sorts of luxury and sports cars that are not normally seen on the roads of Indiana.  One student, Dominic, previously worked in the automobile industry and seemed to know every model of every exotic automobile (see picture below).  His fellow students were impressed.

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In HafenCity is a venue called Boilerman Bar, which called for an obligatory picture…

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On to Rotterdam…

The second leg of the trip was to Prague, Czech Republic, 402 km from Munich.

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP) 27% (World Bank, 2019) 

The Czech Republic was the longtime industrial center of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.  According to EuroStat (2018), “The most important sector for Czech SMEs is manufacturing, which generates almost 30% of SME value added and employment, nearly 10 percentage points more than the respective averages in the rest of the EU”.  These manufacturing statistics may be the most similar to Indiana’s of the four cities on the trip, since Indiana ranks #1 in percentage of statewide economy attributed to industry.  Also, much like Indiana, the Czech Republic relies heavily on agriculture as a means of economic output.  Our trip from Munich to Prague allowed much time to gaze upon the countryside, which gave us a look at the many fields of rapeseed and hops.

 

Most Czechs over 40 years old do not speak English because the Russians closed off their society from the West behind the Iron Curtain.  Even today, they prefer to be referred to as “Central Europeans” rather than “Eastern Europeans”.  However, those under 40 generally speak English and enjoy chatting with Americans and discussing American culture.  Truly, Czech culture is shaped by their turbulent political history.

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Václav Havel, Czech dissident turned national hero and then president, was both the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic.  He symbolized the citizen struggle that toppled communism and provided economic opportunity to the Czechs.  Here, he is seen speaking to a joint session of the US Congress in Washington, DC in 1990.  Seated behind him (clapping) is former VP and Indiana Senator Dan Quayle.

 

1) Multinational Automobile and Supply Chain Tours:

The reliance and emphasis on production in the Czech Republic can be partly attributed to the country’s historic and current proximity to markets.  The Czech Republic has one of the highest economic concentrations of GDP originating from automobile design, manufacture, and supply-chain in the world (Czech Invest, 2018).  AIA (2019) noted, “The Czech automotive industry employs more than 150,000 people and accounts for more than 20% of both Czech manufacturing output and Czech exports.”  In fact, the country supplies parts to every automobile manufacturer in Europe (Czech Ministry of Trade, 2016).  There are numerous automobile R&D and production centers in the Czech Republic, including Volkswagen (the owner of the Škoda automobile factory), Toyota, and Hyundai.  The automobile industry provides the country a high per-capita income compared to its European peers, similar to the way the three major Indiana-based Japanese multinational automobile organizations, Honda, Subaru, and Toyota boost Indiana’s per-capita income.  Toyota produces in the Czech Republic as well, employing 3,000 workers at their factory,  which is located right outside of Prague, manufactures over 300,000 automobiles annually.

The economic rise of the Czech Republic has been led by the automobile industry.  We had the opportunity to tour the massive Škoda Auto factory.  Škoda began in 1895 as a pressing plant that manufactured bicycles.  Ten years later, it began producing motorcycles.

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Student next to Škoda founders Václav Laurin and Václav Klement outside the factory

 

Since 2000, Škoda has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen.  More than 1.25 million Škoda cars are sold in 102 countries (under the Volkswagen name in America) worldwide each year, including daily production of 2,500 at the factory we toured.  The company also produces in India and was voted the most dependable car brand in the UK in 2015.  Currently, China is the #1 export market for Škoda.  60% of their products are transported via trains, and 40% via trucks.  During the German occupation, the factory was utilized for production of German military vehicles under the German automaker Ferdinand Porsche.  It was bombed in May 1945 in Allied air raids.  Like many Czech industries, Škoda experienced massive management changes after the Velvet Revolution and the influx of privatization brought on by the fall of communism.  During this phase, Volkswagen beat out French automaker Renault to win equity rights in Škoda.

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Example of Škoda’s many logistics trucks

 

The factory tour gave us an enhanced understanding of Škoda’s modern production process, particularly the design and production of their new 7-speed automatic transmissions.  Students had the opportunity to observe the press shop with its 2,000 pound pressing power machines that cost €55 million each, the welding shop, and the final assembly hall.  The group also got to see the 250 kilograms of excess metal waste for each vehicle, which is eventually recycled, and learned about the welding process, which is completed at 950-degree temperatures, and cooled within 5 seconds in order for the metal to harden appropriately.  85% of the welding process is automated, using 620 robots and 260 workers per shift.  As in the BMW factory, no photos were allowed during the tour.

 

Today, the Czechs are proud of building their own modern transportation network, including the continual release of new models of trams.  This was no surprise to students, who noticed that some models were newer and had more innovative screens than others.  Of course, Škoda designs and manufactures the Prague public trams (as seen below with the logo on the tram).

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2) Cultural Excursions and Immersions:

Europeans know how to be mobile, and we again jumped into this cultural phenomenon and learned about the logistics of getting from place to place.  Experiential learning is the best way to acquire knowledge, and we did just that as we maneuvered through train stations, trams, and buses (see below).  A few students usually step up and help with extra sets of eyes as we navigate trams and metro systems (Thanks Mark!) through the city in our excursions and activities.

 

The Munich Agreement document in Prague is a contract stipulating that Britain and France would cede the Sudetenland of the Czech Republic.  This agreement was made in spite of unacknowledged Czech protests and is seen as a low point in the history of the country.  Prague was the last democracy to govern in Eastern Europe, but in 1948, the country became communist and endured authoritarian rule of the USSR for more than 40 years.  In 1968, reformers galvanized efforts to allow freedom of the press and other reforms until the USSR deployed 200,000 troops to storm the country and crush the rebellion.  The Velvet Revolution was a non-violent shift to capitalism and democracy that started as a student protest in November 1989 on International Students’ Day in Wenceslas Square, leading to a non-violent era of political upheaval.  The first elections since 1946 were held in June 1990 and overturned the one-party communist system.  Students have taken an active role in shaping Prague.  Since Charles University in Prague is a public higher education institution, it is free for all Czechs.

For the first time in the history of this trip, the group was able to make time for “Lennonova Zed”,  the John Lennon Wall, which is a formerly blank wall that locals began filling with Lennon-inspired artistry and Beatles lyrics in the 1980s.  It became a major irritant of the communist regime in Prague during the late 1980s due to the spirit of revolution Lennon espoused during his life.  This led to a violent confrontation in 1988 between police and local youth, whom authorities attempted to describe as mentally deranged and agents of capitalist antagonists.  Many cite the demand for banned Western music in the late 1980s as the push to end communism.

 

St. Wenceslas Square, the historic center of Prague and a World Heritage Site, was first established in 1348 as a horse market.  It has been the epicenter of all the major political protests, speeches, and demonstrations over the years, from the Proclamation of Independence in 1918 to events in the German occupation, to communism, and now capitalism.  We spent quite a bit of social time there.

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St. Wenceslas Statue at the Historic St. Wenceslas Square

 

St. Wenceslas Square also includes the famous Charles Bridge, first constructed in 1357 during the reign of King Charles IV, who founded the first University in the city.

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Students at the Charles Bridge

 

Since Prague was the only major Central European city to avoid being bombed in World War II, their historic architecture remains in tact.  During our tour of the city,  we saw that their Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance-era buildings are winding and close together, unlike the spaced-out urban phenomena of Midwest US cities.

 

One group dinner was held at the Výtopna Railway Restaurant, where the drinks of patrons are delivered to the tables via model trains.  The Czech economy has ebbed and flowed with the supply chain capabilities of their train system.  The first train transport organization in the Czech Republic was established in 1832 and was key to the development of its industrial might.  However, during the Cold War, border crossings were strictly controlled and trains were strictly regulated, which destroyed the traditional supply chain strengths of the economy.  

 

The Havel Market, in Old Town (seen below), has been a public market since 1232, when it was first established as a medieval settlement for trading food.  We had the opportunity to stroll through Old Town, which still operates as a food market and is the longest continually-running market on earth and became a shopping/souvenir destination for students.

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The Gothic chapel in the Old Town Hall includes the famous astronomical clock at the base.  The astronomical clock was first installed in 1410 and is the oldest one still operating.  We were witnessed the hourly ringing and the mechanical apostles rotating around the two windows above the main dial. 

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The New Town area of Prague, first built up in 1348, is also home to the Museum of Communism, which offers an overview of the recent history of political freedoms in the Czech Republic.  The current freedoms enjoyed by the citizens have been fiercely fought for, as we saw in a documentary video, and have resulted in the capitalistic prosperity that the citizens now enjoy as seen in the pictures with students below during our outing there.

 

Czechs enjoy their sports, and sports are shown on televisions at hotels. European pubs and restaurants don’t have televisions behind the bars.  Popular sports in the Czech Republic include soccer, ice hockey, and tennis.  In particular, ice hockey games were broadcast prominently during our time there.  The NBA playoffs were in the conference finals during the trip, but none of us noticed any games or highlights being played.  There was no hint of baseball either.

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3) History of Capitalism/Trade:

The Czech Republic was one of the most affluent countries in Europe until communist rule took over.  Since the Velvet Revolution, the Czech Republic has dived into capitalism and international trade.  Today, the country boasts one of the fastest-growing economies in the EU, growing from less than $50 billion GDP in 1989 to over $200 billion today.  Since joining the EU in 2004, its global competitiveness has made it the heart of many European global networks.  The Czech Republic’s first modern democratic/capitalist leader, Václav Havel, is credited with redirecting its economy after playing a key role in the Velvet Revolution.  Although the Czech Republic has made massive strides since adopting capitalism, including an astounding 4.5% annual GNP growth rate, many reminders of its Eastern European past remain, including the Czech Republic’s not yet adopting the Euro as currency.  It’s always challenging for students to adapt to the Czech Korona (crown) due to its high denominations.

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Our currency for the three days in Prague.  1000 CZK = $44

 

The Communism and Nuclear Bunker Tour of Prague and the Museum of Communism are both relevant examples of how the limitations and suppression of the old communist regime set back the production capabilities of the country for much of the twenty-first century.  Although the country had been the center of production for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, communist rule thwarted much of the usual production capabilities.  The Communism and Nuclear Bunker Tour highlights relevant communist and capitalist moments between the 1940s and the Velvet Revolution, including information related to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s coordinated assassinations of capitalist leaders in Prague during the 1950’s.  The bunker could hold 150 people for 2 weeks.  The VIP Hotel above the bunker was for notable communist political leaders from around the region.  An escape tunnel went to Wenceslas Square 15 meters away.  One of the pictures below shows a map with the various nuclear bombs in Czechoslovakia pointed West, along with the maps of the various communist armies stationed around the border.  We were able to play with the 1950’s-era communist spy equipment developed by Czech technology experts, wear communist military garb, and hold 1950’s-era guns.  This is typically a favorite tour of the trip.

 

Cooks weren’t used to using fresh ingredients in the communist days, so fresh food is not common and there is not much of a culture of restaurants and eating out.  Soup (polevka), beef sirloin with gravy/boiled sausage/ketchup/mustard on a roll (the Czech rohlík), and goulash/meat stew with white rice are all common.  Some students seemed to enjoy Czech cuisine more than that in Bavaria, including some of the dishes pictured below (Bohemian Beef Goulash on the left, Czech kielbasa/sausage on the right).

 

Guy Myers of Purdue Polytechnic Vincennes continued to maximize the available free time, including a trip to the 9th-century Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world, seat of the former kings of Bohemia.  Once again, Guy found his way to the top of the tower (see pictures below).

 

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It’s a pleasure to see a picture posted by a student of some fellow students looking at a map one night during a student-initiated excursion.  That’s what the trip is all about- exploring and learning, in the spirit of famous American explorers such as of Lewis and Clark, George Washington, and Neil Armstrong.

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Unexpected American culture and history in Europe are always pleasant surprises.  Just as we were leaving this former communist city, we saw this at the Prague train station before we boarded our train (below).

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On to Hamburg…

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP): 21% (World Bank, 2019) 

Germany has the strongest economy in the EU, and the southern region of Bavaria has the strongest economy in Germany.  Munich, the largest city in Bavaria, is both a cultural hub, as the center of Oktoberfest, and the economic engine/high-tech center of Germany.  The city boasts an advanced public transportation network and world-renowned infrastructure, which can be partially credited for its  supply chain capabilities.  President Eisenhower observed the German transportation infrastructure as a General in World War II and used it as an inspiration for the Interstate Highway System program of the 1950’s.  Students had the opportunity to learn about the efficiency of the U-Bahn (subway) as a method of getting from place to place.  We used the U-Bahn dozens of times to help us get around, and many of the students became proficient in navigating it.  We also utilized trams, the S-Bahn (subway to the suburbs), buses, trams, and other common modes of European public transportation (seen below).

 

During our trip to Dachau, we were reminded of the American influence on German history when we passed the stop “JF Kennedy Platz”, as seen on the tram screen below.

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1) Multinational Automobile and Supply Chain tours:

The City of Munich (2019) website states that “In terms of turnover and the number of employees, automotive engineering is the single most important branch of industry in the Munich Metropolitan Region”.  Germany leads the EU in automobile production and has been called the world’s automotive innovation hub (Germany Trade & Invest, 2018). Bavaria boasts “modern solutions for sophisticated requirements in supply chain management of automobile manufacturers” (Invest in Bavaria, 2016) and claims 180 Tier 1-4 automobile suppliers, including factories for Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Opel (GM), Audi, and BMW.  The City of Munich (2019) states that “400 automotive companies employ around 128,500 people” in the city and “The entire value chain is based in this region, including everything from research and development through production to the supply industry.”  BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Porsche that alone account for 80 percent of global sales of luxury vehicles. And with 835,000 workers, the auto industry is Germany’s biggest employer, responsible for a fifth of the country’s exports (Bloomberg, 2019).  In fact, Munich University offers a popular bachelor’s degree in Automotive Engineering and Management.

BMW (Bavarian Motor Works) is a German automaker known for quality vehicles and value-added components.  They have embraced their responsibility to the environment through green manufacturing, which reduces landfill requirements, paired with a water conservation initiative, saving 9.5M gallons of water each year across their global facilities.  One of the many quality initiatives in place at BMW is the usage of methane gas to power factory turbines, which supplies 50% of total energy demands for the company.  BMW was one of the first organizations in the automotive industry to earn the prestigious ISO: 14001 certification (BM W Manufacturing Co., 2018).  BMW’s global supply chain includes 30 industrial sites in 14 countries on 4 continents and includes 13,000 suppliers in 70 countries (BMW Group, 2018).

The group toured the BMW factory and observed the behind-the-scenes production of this world-renowned automobile from press works to assembly.  The museum/showroom displayed many innovative products.

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The group in Olympic Village (home of the ’72 games) in front of the BMW factory, just before our tour

 

Although they were given quite a bit of information about the manufacturing process, students were not allowed to take pictures inside the factory.  The tour of this state-of-the-art facility gave them a close-up view of the Press Shop, Body Shop, Paint Shop, Engine Shop, Production of Interior Equipment and Seats, and Assembly.  The factory produces 222,000 of BMW’s 2,367,600 vehicles worldwide per year (900 cars per day in 2019), making it the 5th-most  productive of their 14 worldwide plants, and encompasses 400,000 square meters, making it the second-largest BMW factory behind the factory located in South Carolina.  Unlike in America, rail is the most common mode of transport of vehicles from the factory to vendors.

Students had the opportunity to learn about and observe the following:

  • 16 variations of vehicle body frames for the 2019 product lines
  • differences in vehicles made for the Japanese, UK, and American markets
  • the automation of 850 robots during the welding process
  • the paint shop (environmentally friendly water-based paints) including BMW’s 16 official standardized colors
  • production of their 3, 4, 8, and 12-cylinder engines (their 2,000-employee team produces 3,300 4 cylinder engines/day)
  • air jet cleaning for a dust-free surface before painting
  • automated Excel table recording production in real time (called automatiktabelle)
  • brake inspection process after assembly

The factory is currently exploring a new production digitization process including 3D-printing capabilities and an innovative data matrix code to trace individual parts for defects.  By 2021, the plan is for the factory to be the first in the world to assemble internal combustion, hybrid, and full electric vehicles all in the same facility.

 

2) Cultural Excursions and Immersions:

We enjoyed numerous cultural activities, including seeing the Royal Palace.  First constructed in 1385, the Royal Palace is the largest city palace in Germany and was formerly home to Bavarian monarchs.  It was rebuilt after being damaged during World War II, when 88% of the city center buildings in Munich were destroyed.  The 15th-century Cathedral of our Lady, or Frauenkirche (below, upper left), miraculously survived the bombs.

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Students in front of the Statue of Maximilian II, Ruler of Bavaria.

 

Some German cities established commissions to determine how to rebuild after World War II.  While some such as Hamburg chose to rebuild in a modern fashion, Munich chose to study old photographs and rebuild its old town area to replicate the original design, which includes the Royal Palace and other relics of the city’s historic center.  The Munich Town Hall in Marienplatz, where the mayor and city council conduct business, suffered damage during Allied air raids in 1944, but was later rebuilt in the same style.  We partook in the famous Glockenspiel (below, right), which plays twice every day.

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The Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich was host to frequent guest Michael Jackson, who could often be seen walking around the nearby shopping area somewhat undisturbed.  In tribute to his love of Munich, the locals dedicated a monument outside the hotel to his memory.  One stipulation of the monument was that it has to be immaculately kept-up, and the flowers need to be in bloom.

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Memorial to frequent Munich visitor Michael Jackson

 

Bavarian cuisine, inspired by the Bavarian dukes of the Wittelsbach family, was originally intended to be for the refined and only for royalty.  It includes bratwursts, German potatoes, sauerkraut, warm red cabbage salad, veal, and German pretzels.  These foods became more widely available over time as commoners started making more money.  Today, these foods are especially popular during the Biergarten season, which starts in May and lasts until Oktoberfest.  Of course, trying new foods is an important part of learning about new cultures.  Below, our tour guide points to German pork knuckle (Schweinshaxe) in the window of a restaurant (below, left), which a student (Zach) later tried out (below, right).

 

Like experiences in any new culture, food is new, fun, and different but part of discovery, from appetizers like our “bavarian dinner rolls” (below, left) to dessert like Mutzenmandeln (below, right).

 

The popular image of Germany (bratwurst, lederhosen, pretzels, etc.) comes from Oktoberfest, which originated in 1810, when King Ludwig I celebrated his wedding by inviting Munich’s citizens to eat and drink with the Royal Family.  In this same spirit, we had dinner at the Hofbräuhaus (below), founded in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria.  It formerly served as the royal brewery in the kingdom of Bavaria, but the general public began to be admitted in 1828.  Today it is owned by the state of Bavaria.

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Dachau Concentration camp was the first concentration camp in Germany and was a model for subsequent German camps as well as Joseph Stalin’s gulags.  It was initially constructed to hold German and Austrian political dissidents after the prisons became overcrowded in March 1933, and many prominent politicians were sent there.  It eventually took in Soviet prisoners and also served as a concentration camp for more than 10,000 Jewish men.  More than 4,000 political dissidents were killed there, which was against the Geneva Convention.  After it was liberated by the Americans, it was used by the Allies to hold SS guards awaiting trial and as a military base until 1960.  Its official records totaled 206,206 prisoners.  Below is a photo to the gate to the Dachau Concentration Camp with its inscription, “Work Sets You Free” and students in front of the restored prisoner accommodations.

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Prisoner Sleeping Quarters

 

The trip to Dachau allowed the group an opportunity to visit the northern suburbs of Munich, whereas the S-Bahn (suburban subway) was utilized as a method of transportation.  Later that day, the group used a different S-Bahn line to visit a quintessential German restaurant in the southern suburbs of Munich (below).

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Our visit coincided with a massive public relations campaign for an election that was to take place a few days after our departure.  Most all of the election propaganda we saw had the same message- “Macht Europa Stark!” (Make Europe Strong!) and was promoting the EU.  This message was displayed on many different types of promotional materials all around the city.  Thanks to Mark who took the picture below.

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A fun game that students enjoy is the “try to find a pothole or bumper sticker” game while traveling on the German autobahn.  Both are rare and are quintessentially American phenomenons.  Students also noticed that there is no speed limit for cars, and trucks are strictly prohibited from driving over a certain kph on the autobahn.  Many commented that this precision is much unlike the interstates in Indiana.

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Typical scene from the German Autobahn

 

Like all Study Abroad’s, some of the best memories are unstructured adventures that occur away of official outings.  As such, student side-trips and exploring are explicitly encouraged.

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Students going to get a better look at the Olympic Tower (left) in Olympic Village

 

Some students explore more than others.  Guy Myers of Purdue Polytechnic Vincennes took advantage of his free time to the fullest extent.  He developed a concept that the students coined ‘tower hopping’, whereby he led a contingency that climbed an array of available towers in Marienplatz one evening.  One night he visited the FC Bayern Munich arena, and another morning he took a trip with others to the Nymphenburg Palace (below).

 

On to Prague…

The fourth and final leg of the trip was to Rotterdam, Netherlands, 310 miles from Hamburg.

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP): 12% (World Bank) 

Rotterdam is a progressive, multicultural city whose mayor is the first in the country to be an immigrant (a Muslim, no less).  New Economy (2016) noted that “Rotterdam has embraced innovation and experimental programs in order to develop into one of the world’s most sustainable cities.”  The city has been chosen as the host of the 2025 World Expo, an international conference that addresses major global issues.  It’s been stated that “people were drawn to the city because of its new smooth running transportation networks” in the past several generations (Rotterdam Marketing, 2016).  The New York Times included Rotterdam as a “Place to Go” (New York Times, 2014) and Lonely Planet named it one of the world’s top 10 cities to visit in 2016.  It is quickly becoming a hot tourist destination, with overnight stays in hotels going up by 14% in 2014 (Economische Verkenning Rotterdam, 2016).  In 2017, 1.8 million visitors stayed in local hotels, up 12.5% from the prior year (Hotelovernachtingen, 2018).

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1) Multinational Automobile and Supply Chain Tours:

The Netherlands employs the smallest percentage of its citizens in manufacturing of all European nations (European Union Eurostat, 2016) but serves as a supply chain epicenter.  The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and an integral cog in the European supply chain.  It handles more cargo than any American port.  The Port currently boasts “safety, accessibility and sustainability” as key priorities (Port of Rotterdam, 2016).  In hopes of becoming the smartest port on earth, leaders recently put forth a comprehensive plan called Port Vision 2030.  The Port recently received a loan of €900 million from the European Investment bank due to the need for increased capacity, and it has been labeled by the EIB as a “vital organ” of the European region (European Investment Bank, 2015).

One modern usage of the Port of Rotterdam includes the RDM (Research, Development, and Manufacturing) Innovation Dock, a collaborative effort with Hodgeschool Technical College.  The campus runs several operations in the Innovation Dock, which is a group of intermodal manufacturing workspaces occupied by young entrepreneurs who seek improved supply chain access for their products.  Pieter Van Gelder designed the Innovation Dock area to include a community of houses and residential spaces behind it (which we toured) so workers didn’t have to travel far for work.  Today, student machining and robotics labs work in conjunction with the Innovation Dock’s startup organizations.

The Port of Rotterdam sees 315.2 million metric tons of incoming throughput and 129.6 million metric tons of outgoing throughput every year.  Automation and technology in the Port are constantly being upgraded.  Automated cranes usually pick up and unload containers, and only 50,000 of 19 million containers are inspected in full.

Bicycles are an important means of transportation for Dutch citizens, and the Dutch zest for innovation has translated into more than 2 million electric bikes being used in the country.  The Dutch Parliament has banned sales of petrol and diesel automobiles by 2025, so all vehicles sold in the country will be electric by that year.  The picture below (left) shows a typical bike rack around the perimeter of a tree in social areas of the city to accommodate bicycle transportation, and the picture below (right) displays the bike repository below Central Station, where hundreds of thousands of bikes are kept.

 

There are said to be 13 million active bicycles in the country out of a population of only 16.5 million, the most per-capita bike usage of any country.  Reflecting Dutch culture, our Port tour was by bicycle.  Our tour guide first provided us a history of the construction of various phases of the Port, which tends to coincide with the peak of imports and exports of certain products.  For instance, the massive Container Terminal was built in the 1960’s to accommodate the influx of American electrical appliance imports.  Each area is constantly being modernized, including full automation in the Container terminal.  1 of 3 consumer products in the EU goes through the Port of Rotterdam at some point.  Below are pictures from our bike tour of the port.

 

The Holland Amerika Line was a cargo and transportation fleet originating at the Port that operated from 1873-1989.  It took millions from Europe to America, including many persecuted European Jews before and during WWII.  The Holland Amerika Line building is shown below in the picture on the left.  The logistical center of the port (shown rising above the Holland Amerika Line building in the picture on the left) coordinates all vessel transportation and management of the Port.

 

Rotterdam truly thrives because of its supply chain management capabilities.  As we learned from our tour of the BMW factory, automobiles produced in Germany are often transported and exported via train.  We had the opportunity to see this firsthand at a train station en route to Rotterdam (see below).

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Supply chain achievements such as bimodal transportation of cars from factory to rail to the port are what Rotterdam does best

 

2) Cultural Excursions and Immersions:

Generally, food in Rotterdam is high in carbohydrates, allegedly because foods high in carbs were needed for the working class during the formation of the country.  Similar dishes are eaten for breakfast and lunch in Rotterdam, consisting of bread (bagels) with toppings such as Dutch cheese.  Mashed potatoes are common for dinner, and natural juices are a customary drink.  Many students commented that bottled water and juice were always served in a glass bottle with a separate glass to drink from.

De Rotterdamsche Oude is a Rotterdam-made cheese.  It was developed because Amsterdam cheese was being served at De Kuip, a famous Rotterdam sports stadium.  The stadium owners decided to develop their own cheese they could claim for the city.  This Rotterdam cheese can officially be called old if it has been aged more than 1 year.  Below is a typical Rotterdam Cheesehouse (or “Kashuis”), which includes the Rotterdam De Rotterdamsche Oude (old cheese).  We didn’t run across cheddar or American cheese, while in Rotterdam, but we found plenty of opportunities to sample Rotterdam De Rotterdamsche Oude.

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Typical high-end Rotterdam cheese company

Immigrant flows into Holland have given rise to various types of new restaurants and cuisines in the city, such as Spanish and Portuguese in the 1920s and 1930s, Turkish in the 1950s and 1960s, Moroccan in the 1970s and 1980s, and Polish today.  Residents of refugee camps established near Rotterdam during the Vietnam War have started numerous Vietnamese restaurants.  In addition, many Surinamese restaurants can be found in Rotterdam because many people from the former Dutch colony of Surinam relocated to Rotterdam in 1975 after being granted independence.  Today, there are more Surinamese in the Netherlands than in Surinam.  There was a Surinamese restaurant across the street from our hotel which gained quite a bit of business from our group.

We experienced a South Holland Food Tour.  Among other distinctly Dutch items, we had stroopwafel, a Dutch cookie made of caramel and waffles baked in a waffle iron, Dutch bitterballen (gooey meatballs with a crispy coating), and Dutch poffertjes (small pancakes with powdered sugar, which were made 20 at a time by a Dutch food vendor who has sold poffertjes out of the same food stand for over 30 years and who invented an innovative contraption to make them in bulk.

 

Rotterdam’s newly renovated central train station, our destination point from Hamburg, was constructed in the square-mile area of the City Center district.  This area was completely flattened during the Rotterdam Blitz, the surprise aerial attack by the German air force that occurred on May 14, 1940, in the midst of official German-Dutch negotiations and prompted immediate surrender by the Dutch government.  In their desire to gain immediate control over the integral Port of Rotterdam, the Germans threatened to destroy Amsterdam next if the Dutch did not surrender.  The Dutch were neutral in World War I, but were one of the first targets of the Germans in World War II.  Only 4% of buildings survived the Blitz.

The photo below shows the students near the statue of 16th century philosopher Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus.  Erasmus is widely considered to be the Dutch George Washington.

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Purdue University students in front of the Erasmus statue in Rotterdam

 

The Church of St. Lawrence (seen below) is the only medieval building left in Rotterdam.  Interestingly, Erasmus lived a block away from the Church of Lawrence and was born during the initial construction phase of the church.  Below, St. Laurence church after the Rotterdam Blitz (left; picture from Wikipedia) and how it looks today (right).

 

Rotterdam’s modern architectural look exists only because of the Rotterdam Blitz.  One of these modern buildings is the Markthal (Market Hall, see photo below), a public venue built in 2014 that has been labeled the food mecca of the Netherlands.  It contains 96 restaurants and 228 apartments.  Because Rotterdam’s City Center was rebuilt with mostly office buildings after World War II, there tended to be a problem for businesses after the close of the workday due to the lack of activity.  Since the 1980s, new venues have been built with apartments and residential accommodations in mind.

 

The infamous cube houses shown below have a typically modern-Rotterdam architecture.

 

We visited the Windmills at Kinderdyk, which consist of 19 windmills built in 1738-1740, originally intended to pump the excessive amounts of water out of the local village into a reservoir.  Water from the Rhine River in Switzerland has long been a problem for the Dutch.  Today they pay €250 per family in taxes for water management.  It costs the country €5 billion annually to manage the water supply.

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Purdue University students in front of the Windmills at Kinderdyk

 

The emphasis on pedestrians and bicycle riders was apparent in our logistics.  Unlike the other cities on the Study Abroad, Rotterdam gives precedence to bikes and pedestrians at all crossings, with the recognizable red bike lanes seemingly everywhere.  In lieu of any specific stop signal, pedestrians and bikes assume the right-of-way, and as such the red bike paths were very noticeable.  Getting around in Rotterdam was a unique experience and stood as a reminder that every city we visited during our trip was different in its own unique way.

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Scene of a typical red concrete Rotterdam bike lane

 

We had the opportunity to visit the town of Delft, home of the Delft University of Technology.  Delft resembled a typical Dutch town, with its canals and quintessentially Dutch buildings, most of which are over 500 years old.  We had a bit of time to tour the town and its canals in the town center.  The New Church, “Nieuwe Kerk” in Dutch, (below, middle) was constructed in the 12th century.  Its tower, which several students climbed (view from below, left), was constructed in 1356.  William of Orange, who lived there in 1572, led the Dutch resistance in Delft against the Spanish in the Eight Year’s War, and was entombed there in a mausoleum in 1584.  The fish market (below, right) has been in business since the 12th century as well.  Delft is a quiet, slow-moving, quintessentially Dutch town that stood in stark contrast to the modern architecture and fast-moving style of Rotterdam.

 

A call-back from our visit to Prague involved seeing a Delft University of Technology flag.  Delft University is the largest and oldest Dutch technological university, known for its prowess in engineering and technology.  It is a strategic partner of Czech Technical University, which is a strategic partner of Purdue University.

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Delft University of Technology flag

 

Built in 1914, the City Hall of Rotterdam (the Stadhuis op Coolsingel in Dutch) is one of the very few buildings in the city to survive the German bombing campaigns in World War II.  Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Mayor of Rotterdam, has an office there.  He is the first immigrant mayor of a major European city.  His family migrated to Amsterdam from Morocco when he was fifteen years old.  His dual citizenship is a point of controversy surrounding him, along with the fact that he is a dedicated fan of Amsterdam’s AFC Ajax, Amsterdam’s local soccer team and rival of Rotterdam teams, and not of Feyenoord, the local Rotterdam favorite.  He regularly frequents local pubs and events and is always willing to chat with anyone, regardless of religion or social status, or to lend himself, physically, in a crisis.  In fact, Aboutaleb has been identified as the “most popular politician” in the Netherlands (Watkins, 2017).  We had an opportunity to tour the Stadhuis op Coolsingel.

 

It was no surprise that Sir Winston Churchill, hero of World War II and quasi-liberator of the Dutch, was displayed prominently at the Stadhuis op Coolsingel.  However, many were surprised that American George Marshall was also displayed in an equally-prominent position.  George Marshall was a US Army veteran, Chief of Staff to two US presidents, and US Secretary of State (from 1947-1949).  He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.  However, he is best known as the creator of the Marshall Plan, or officially the “European Recovery Program”, which provided American financing to build up war-torn European cities destroyed in the war.  This was another moment that gave many of us great pride in being Americans and made us cognizant of how America has impacted the world for the better throughout its history.

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It was no coincidence that City Hall survived the German bombs during the Rotterdam Blitz.  German aerial precision strategically spared the City Hall and Post Office, since the records and data kept there would help them identify any supposed political enemies of Germany.  Below is a picture of the outside of City Hall (left) as well as the nearby Post Office (right), with visible bullet holes from when German soldiers invaded the buildings in the immediate aftermath of the Rotterdam Blitz.

 

Throughout the city are reminders of the Rotterdam Blitz and the city-wide fire that ensued.  Markers at the boundaries of the fire show the perimeters of the fire within the city, as pointed out by our tour guide below.

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3) History of Capitalism/Trade:

The corporate tax rate in the Netherlands is lower than that of neighboring Germany and France, and many attribute this rate to the rise of Rotterdam as an affluent, global city during the past 20 years.  Many multi-national companies thrive in Rotterdam as they take advantage of the city’s logistical amenities, including access to efficient water transportation.

Water transportation is an important component of many harbor towns, and Rotterdam is no different.  Erasmus University in Rotterdam features the internationally recognized School of Economics and School of History, Culture, and Communication.  One means of getting to Erasmus University and around the port is by water taxi, which is free for all college students attending school in Rotterdam.  We also had the opportunity to utilize water taxis to better get from place to place.  The Erasmus bridge can be seen from the water taxi (below, upper right).  We also utilized a waterbus to get from point to point on our Port tour (seen in pictures below).  A technological map of the Water Taxi system at the Port of Rotterdam (below, upper left) is an innovative approach to port logistics.

 

An alert student from Purdue Polytechnic Columbus noted that the Rotterdam water taxis had engines from Columbus, IN-based Cummins (see below).

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The glass house pictured below is a collaborative innovation between the City of Rotterdam and Delft University of Technology, a University included in the top 20 of worldwide rankings of Engineering and Technology schools.  The inhabitants grow their own plants in the greenhouse that is part of the house.  The house is a prototype model for a future self-sustainable enclave.

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Our hotel was a few blocks away from the Witte de Withstraat (named after Rotterdam’s 1871 Navy), a gentrified street of cafes and galleries that connects the urban-planned Museum Park to the local Maritime Museum.  We had a group dinner at a Japanese restaurant there (which completed a goal of having group dinners at every WWII Axis-country themed restaurant), and I had an enjoyable conversation with a dear Dutch friend who joined us for dinner and engaged that side of the table in some interesting dialogue (below, right).

 

Some students enjoyed climbing up the tower of the famous Rotterdam Euromast to the 96 meter high observation platform, or “crow’s nest”.  Like Hamburg’s TV tower, this structure provides navigational guidance to its citizens and a beautiful view of the city from above.  It was designed for the Dutch Floriade, an international festival held every 10 years.

 

We were privileged that a student (Kathryn) had a birthday while in Rotterdam.  We sang to her the typical Happy Birthday song in English, then in Mandarin Chinese (compliments of Rubin), and then in Dutch (compliments of our tour guide).

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As is the way with Study Abroads, there were interesting adventures with surprises around every corner.  The following statue pictured below was intended to be a Santa Claus with a Christmas tree.  The locals coined a different name for it, which is not appropriate to repeat in this venue.

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Like other aspects of its infrastructure, Rotterdam actively pursues modernization to help facilitate transportation in the city.  Parking meters are modern and electric charging stations are common on the streets.  The Rotterdam Climate Initiative is a comprehensive plan to turn the city green, including the Port.  Below is pictured one of the 1,800 electric car charging stations in the city near parking spots (left), a common smart parking meter in Rotterdam that drivers can locate via GPS if they lose track of their vehicle (middle), and phone charging devices that are conveniently located at local establishments (right).

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I would never have had the ability to put this trip together without first taking the plunge with Lambert Doll, with whom I did my best to figure out Dutch culture 21 years ago during our first trip to Europe when we were Purdue students ourselves.  I appreciate how you were always up for an adventure-you are dearly missed.  So much on these trips reminded me of when we faced the same dilemmas 21 years ago, such as how to get around, how to talk to locals, how much constitutes an appropriate gratuity, and so much more.  I’m glad I can pay your zest for life forward to these ambitious Purdue University students.

The third leg of the trip was to Hamburg, Germany, which is 305 miles from Prague.

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP): 23% (World Bank) 

Hamburg has often been considered the most international of all German cities.  It has a notable history in trade dating back to the Middle Ages and is credited with helping to bring the Germanic region out of the Middle Ages because of its access to both import and export markets.  The city took the initiative in 1410 to draft a city constitution, known as “the first Rezeß”, which included dispute resolution policy and gave power of due process to citizens, a revolutionary civil liberty for the era.

Hamburg has a rich history in supply chain management.  The Hamburg-America shipping line was a company that was the world’s largest trans-Atlantic supply chain organization in the beginning of the twentieth century, known for its efficiency in operations.  Like Prague, Hamburg has been central to much political historical change and chaos.  For example, the 1923 Hamburg Uprising was a post-war plot to seize control of the city by Leon Trotsky-inspired local communists several years after the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the German defeat in WWI, when hyperinflation and economic chaos were rampant.  Famous blockades of German ports such as the port of Hamburg have been integral to wartime strategies to prevent vital goods from getting into the country.

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Students in front of a container vessel at the Port of Hamburg

Today, the city is multicultural and has the highest percentage of international residents in Germany at 14% (LabourEconomics, 2015).  Hamburg is known as the global economic trading center of the North Sea and Baltic Sea regions and the regional hub of international trade (Hamburg Business Development Corporation, 2016), and is home to 40,000 official millionaires.  While Munich’s residents comprise a traditional 70% Catholic to 30% Protestant demographic, Hamburg’s residents comprise the opposite percentage (not counting recent immigrants).

1) Multinational Automobile and Supply Chain Tours:

The Port of Hamburg is the second-largest port in Europe, 106 kilometers from the open sea.  The city is named the “Gateway to the World” by German citizens because of the vast trade volume facilitated by the port, including more than 9.73 million TEUs which pass through it annually.  The city has 2,500 bridges (second only to New York), and many connect portions of the Port to the City.  The port has a rich history, beginning from May 1189, when Kaiser Friedrich Barbarossa decreed that the Port be a customs-free zone for all merchants.  Smuggling products into East Germany through the port is credited as one of the reasons for the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the port saw a spike in business after the reunification of Germany and the fall of the Iron Curtain.  In 2015, the Port paired 45.8% of its services with rail (1,300 freight trains per week), 12.2% with inland water vessels, and 42% with trucking transportation of total hinterland traffic (Hamburg Port Authority, 2016).  Today, the Port’s main trading partners include China, Russia, Brazil, the US, and Norway.  Imports and exports are managed through a dense network of 120 liner services spanning the globe (Hamburg Port Authority, 2018).  The harbor’s birthday, which is observed during the first week of May in a festival called Hafengeburtstag, is one of the most celebrated cultural events of the year.

We learned that the container terminal area of the port can handle 20,000-foot cargo containers, which is the largest type of container possible.  We saw the 3 million-TEU capacity Altenwerder Terminal, one of the most modern container terminals in the world.  Governmental action as it pertains to the development of the port was also a focus, as the relevancy of the port has increased and decreased over the centuries based on political decisions of the German government.

We took a tour of the Port of Hamburg by boat, which provided us enough speed to cover the massive port and its four modern container terminals.  We were fortunate to be able to see export cargo containers being loaded onto transport vessels and import cargo loaded onto trains.  Dynamic supply chain capabilities allow the port to transport 138.2 million tons of goods per year.

 

 

During our various excursions in Hamburg, we had yet another opportunity to learn about the logistics of the German U-Bahn subway system.  Several students (Abbie, Mike, and Bill) took the initiative in helping our group on and off the various lines so that we could more efficiently find our destinations.  Hamburg’s system seemed a bit more technologically advanced than Munich’s, with screens inside the trains showing soccer scores and GPS-like maps of upcoming stops (as seen in the picture below in the upper right).

 

 

2) Cultural Excursions and Immersions:

As in many European countries, cultural and societal values in Germany vary from region to region.  In fact, cultural characteristics should not be assumed to be the same in different regions of the same country.  For instance, the food of Northern Germany is different than the food of Southern Germany.  In Hamburg, carp is a favorite for Christmas and New Year’s meals.  Other popular item include lobster soup, currywurst, savoy cabbage and duck and/or goose-related dishes.  There is more of an emphasis on global spices and seasonings in Hamburg’s cuisine.  Many of the students commented that Hamburg’s food was much different than Munich’s, which seemed more stereotypically German.  In order to sample a variety of foods from different cultures, one night we had a group dinner at a locally-owned (there are very few chain restaurants in Europe) Italian restaurant (below).

 

 

The Harvestehude quarter, a historic area that does not allow buildings to rise above the level of the trees, is near Außenalster Lake, alongside a series of buildings first constructed by the German elite of the 19th century.  This area has recently experienced a green renaissance.  The picture below below shows the Green Ring, which is a sustainable initiative that connects via hiking/jogging paths the majority of the city’s parks, gardens, recreational areas, and other destinations via hiking/jogging paths (Mishkov, 2016).  The goal is to make this area completely car-free by 2034 and to further promote public transportation.

 

 

Hamburg was one of the first cities in the world to establish diplomatic relations with the U.S. shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  On July 1, 1790, the U.S. Consulate in Hamburg opened as the 11th U.S. Consulate in the world; it is also located in the Harvestehude quarter.  The Port of Hamburg, which was the busiest port in the world at the time, allowed many Germans to leave for the New World from Hamburg even before the Revolutionary War. The first German to immigrate to North America via the Port of Hamburg was documented in 1625 (U.S. Consulate General Hamburg).  Subsequently, the port played a key role in establishing Hamburg as one of the first eleven cities to have a U.S. Consulate.  Hamburg hosts more than 100 consulates, the third largest number in any city (behind Hong Kong and New York City).  This Consulate is a great example of the 19th century upper-class Hanseatic architecture and was long ago dubbed the “Little White House on the Alster,” as it resembles the White House in Washington, D.C.  It served as Northern Germany’s Nazi party headquarters during World War II.

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Purdue University students in front of the US Conulate in Munich, aka “The Little White House on the Alster”

Like the Consulate in Munich, the Consulate of Hamburg also has an accomplished Consul General, who acts as a safe haven and advisor for U.S. citizens abroad.  Consul General Rick Yoneoka, who greeted us at the door, worked in Gambia, Venezuela, and Berlin as Assistant to the Ambassador (former Indiana Senator Dan Coats).  Most notably, Yoneoka was responsible for the expansion of U.S. exports to Venezuela and the continuation of oil sales between the U.S. and Venezuela amid faltering bilateral relations in 2009 through his implementation of Title III of the Libertad Act of Venezuela.  We were lucky to have this adventure coordinated by Dr. Susanne Wiedemann, Cultural Affairs Assistant/Kulturreferentin, who was nice enough to answer my emails and take care of the planning during evening hours in Indiana time, which meant that she was helping me from Hamburg late at night.

 

 

3) History of Capitalism/Trade:

HafenCity Universitat has taken the lead in the urban planning of Hamburg, and we had the opportunity to take a walking tour of the city, including its exclusive Old Town shopping, called Mönckebergstrasse.  The world’s largest electronic store, Saturn, and Europe’s biggest sports store, Karstadt, are located there, among other elite stores.  The astute planning of the city center has resulted in great economic strength for the city.

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One of our tour guides explaining the layout of Hamburg’s city center

 

Rising above the historic city center is a key landmark that facilitates navigation through this area, the 279 meter-high TV Tower.  Many of the fashion-conscious students enjoyed walking through the exclusive Jungfernstieg urban promenade, a 600 meter-long exclusive shopping street (below, with the Four Seasons hotel with its green roof in the background and the TV Tower to its right (in the photo below, left).

 

 

The historic city center includes the Hamburg Stock Exchange,  the building attached to the Town Hall (which the Chamber of Commerce now partially inhabits), home to the Senate and Parliament.  Founded in 1558 because of the progressive international trade in the city, it is the oldest stock exchange in Germany and the second-oldest in Europe behind London’s exchange.   Most of Hamburg’s city center buildings were destroyed by Allied air raids during World War II, but this building was lucky to have only minor damage.  Attached to the City Hall is the Stock Exchange Building, where the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce resides.  The building also houses the second oldest stock exchange in the world, which began in 1558 and is younger only than London’s.

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Students in front of the Hamburg City Hall (Rathaus)

 

 

The Port contributes to the profits of 7,300 organizations in the Hamburg city limits, many within Speicherstadt, or Hafen City, which is a newly gentrified area that is also the world’s largest official warehouse district.  It has recently been awarded the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a designation of a location deemed to be of special significance, as the site has been called “a unique symbol of the rapid international growth of trade in the late 19th and early 20th century” (Deutsche Welle, 2016).  Speicherstadt was the first section to be zoned as office-only  in Europe (Deutsche Welle, 2015).  Nearby is the Speicherstadtmuseum, which is dedicated to showing the history of the coffee trade and other notable industries.  We hopped off the harbor tour boat at Hafen City.

This allowed for some free time before the next harbor boat arrival.  Several students visited the nearby Maritimes Museum.  You can see one of the original loading dock container cranes (above and to the left of the third umbrella), which was utilized to lift goods from the vessels below when it was originally built (see picture in the top right, below).

 

 

During their free time in Hafen City, other students ran into an organization that has some similarities with Purdue University.

 

 

Several others visited the campus of HafenCity Universitat, also known as the University of The Built Environment And Metropolitan Development, a public university specializing in urban planning and civil engineering.  Recent expansions due to their strong enrollment mean that they are embarking on construction of local housing for students (below, left).

 

 

During the trip our Chinese student (Rubin) spent time researching local Chinese restaurants.  Many of his friends were curious about the authenticity of the food, and he had a different, nuanced response for each of the Chinese restaurants that they visited.  Rubin could always be counted on to determine whether the food was “authentic or not authentic”, and the answer to this question during a Chinese restaurant lunch stop during free time in Hafen City was “authentic”.  The picture below shows us in HafenCity after the free time, waiting on the harbor boat to pick us up.

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Waiting on the harbor boat at Hafen City

 

In another prominent region of Hamburg, the Reeperbahn area of the St. Pauli district, the group went on a Beatles tour, which included visits to the clubs where the Beatles first toured and sharpened their musical skills and synergies from 1960-1962 before they became famous back home in Liverpool, England and soon thereafter worldwide.  Students found out why, after the city was bombed to rubble at the end of World War II, the Hamburg live music scene quickly became alluring:  it was receptive to international artists, and influenced the Beatles’ style of music due to the port’s imports of global music.  During this time, the locals had grown accustomed to American rock and roll because of access to imported records that they could buy locally via the Port of Hamburg.  They enjoyed and appreciated 1950s-style rock and roll artists such as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard were willing to pay to see the similarly-styled Beatles in their local clubs.  The Beatles and the music-lovers of Hamburg were truly ahead of their time in the early 1960s.  The venues in which the Beatles played live are located on the Reeperbahn, the infamous street in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg.  Included below are photos of the Kaiserkeller, the oldest Hamburg live rock and roll venue where they first played (top left), and a small apartment complex (lower left) where they stayed during their first nights in Hamburg.

 

 

After the Beatles tour, we were treated to a private concert of Beatles cover songs (below).

 

 

The Beatles tour provided everyone an opportunity to walk through the Hamburg Reeperbahn (see photos below), which many consider to be the continent’s version of the Vegas strip.  This area stood in stark contrast to Hamburg’s city center and reflects a varied aspect of German culture.

 

 

Students use nights for any sort of additional experience and these are often the most rewarding and memorable times during these trips.  As usual, student-initiated exploration during free-time often became a favorite component of the visit.

In the spirit of both the historic and modern Hamburg music scene, several went to a concert featuring a prominent Spanish reggae artist at the Knust music venue, a popular nightspot featuring indie bands and rock bands, which concluded at a local establishment filled with Victorian-era couches for the patrons.

 

 

A group of students took a trip to the St. Nicholas’schurch (Nikolaikirche) steeple.  This church was one of the five original Protestant churches in the city and was the tallest building int the world from 1874 to 1876.  It was one of the rare buildings that survived the allied air raids of 1943, although it did receive severe damage from the massive fire that engulfed the city as a result of the aerial raids.  The students climbed to the top of the tower.  Below are pictures of students in front of the church (left) and a view of the city from the 75-meter high steeple (right).

 

 

Another group of students visited the Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest model railway exhibition, which includes a slcale-model of a coal-fired powerplant (below, left).  Many students indicated that this should be added to the official group itinerary next year.

 

 

A quest to seek a laundromat (Terri) involved a rare find of a combination laundromat-discotheque.

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As noted, Study Abroad’s are designed to create lifelong memories and enduring moments, most of which are student-initiated and not part of the official curriculum.  One student took the opportunity have the Astra (popular local beer brewed in Hamburg) logo tattooed on the back of his leg.  Since he is a US military veteran, Astra’s iconic heart/anchor logo especially resonated for him, because Hamburg’s Reeperbahn grew in prominence when members of the US Navy would go there while stationed in Hamburg to let loose.

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On to Rotterdam…

The second leg of the trip was to Prague, Czech Republic, 250 miles from Munich.

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP) 27% (World Bank) 

The Czech Republic is the longtime industrial center of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.  According to EuroStat (2018), “The most important sector for Czech SMEs is manufacturing, which generates almost 30% of SME value added and employment, nearly 10 percentage points more than the respective averages in the rest of the EU”.  The reliance and emphasis on production can be partly credited to the country’s historic and current proximity to markets.  The Czech Republic has one of the highest economic concentrations of GDP originating from automobile design, manufacture, and supply-chain in the world (Czech Invest, 2018).  AIA (2017) noted, “The Czech automotive industry employs more than 150,000 people and accounts for more than 20% of both Czech manufacturing output and Czech exports.”  In fact, the country supplies parts to every automobile manufacturer in Europe (Czech Ministry of Trade, 2016).  There are numerous automobile R&D and production centers in the Czech Republic, including Volkswagen (the owner of the Škoda automobile factory), Toyota, and Hyundai.  The automobile industry is credited with giving the country a high per-capita income as compared to its European peers.

Most Czechs over 40 years old do not speak English because the Russians closed off their society from the West, behind the Iron Curtain.  Even today, they prefer to be referred to as “Central Europeans” rather than “Eastern Europeans”.  However, those under 40 generally speak English and enjoy chatting with Americans and discussing American culture.  Truly, Czech culture is shaped by their turbulent political history.

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Václav Havel, Czech dissident turned national hero and then president, was both the last president of Czechoslovakia as well as the first president of the Czech Republic.  He symbolized the citizen struggle that toppled communism, and he provided economic opportunity to the Czechs.  Here, he is speaking to a joint session of US Congress in Washington, DC in 1990.  Seated behind him (clapping) is former VP and Indiana Senator Dan Quayle.

 

1) Multinational Automobile and Supply Chain Tours:

The economic rise of the Czech Republic has been led by the automobile industry.  We had the opportunity to tour the massive Škoda Auto factory.  Škoda began in 1895 as a pressing plant that manufactured bicycles.  Ten years later, it began producing motorcycles.

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Škoda founders Václav Laurin and Václav Klement outside the factory

 

Since 2000, Škoda has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen.  More than 1.1 million Škoda cars are sold in 102 countries (under the Volkswagen name in America) worldwide each year, including daily production of 2,500 at the factory we toured.  During the German occupation, the factory was utilized for production of German military vehicles under the German automaker Ferdinand Porsche.  The factory was bombed in May 1945 by Allied air raids.

The company has gone through many successful eras.  Like many Czech industries, Škoda went through massive management changes after the Velvet Revolution and the influx of privatization brought on by the fall of communism.  During this phase, Volkswagen beat out French automaker Renault to win equity rights in Škoda.  The company also produces in India and was voted the most dependable car brand in the UK in 2015.  Currently, China is the #1 export market for Škoda.  60% of their products are transported via trains, and 40% via trucks.

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One of many Škoda logistics trucks (from scania.com)

 

The factory tour provided an enhanced understanding of their modern production process, particularly the design and production of their new 7-speed automatic transmissions.  Students had the opportunity to observe the press shop, the welding shop, and the final assembly hall and saw the 2,000 pound pressing power machines, which cost €55 million each.  The group also got to see the 250 kilograms of excess metal waste for each vehicle, which is eventually recycled and learned about the welding process, which is completed at 950-degree temperatures, and cooled within 5 seconds in order for the metal to harden appropriately.  85% of the welding process is automated, using 620 robots and 260 workers per shift.  As in the BMW factory, no photos were allowed during the tour.

 

Škoda employs 21,000 workers at the factory; their average age is 33.  Employees wear shirts based on their titles to better coordinate operations: green shirts are worn by managers, white shirts by workers, and blue shirts by temporary workers.  The factory utilizes constant production, with an overlap of 15 minutes in-between shifts. Škoda had the best first quarter in sales in company history in 2017, making €84.3 billion by selling more than 283,000 vehicles, an increase of 28% from the prior year, and was awarded the prestigious “Exporter of the Year” award in both 2015 and 2016 from the Czech Republic’s Economic Chamber.  Nearby Škoda Auto University is the only company-owned University in the country and offers bachelors and masters degrees in logistics programs.  Škoda continues to innovate today, as they have developed various incarnations of electric bicycles.

A Toyota production facility employing 3,000 workers is located right outside of Prague, and production exceeds 300,000 automobiles annually.  This factory touts its environmentally-friendly vehicles and has been certified as ISO 14001:2004.  The company specializes in small vehicles and claims “modern safety and ecological technologies” as core production features.

Europeans know how to be mobile, and we again jumped into this cultural phenomenon and learned about the logistics of getting from place to place.  Experiential learning is the best way to acquire knowledge, and we did just that as we maneuvered through train stations, trams, and buses (see below).  Perhaps the proudest moment (from the perspective of the trip leader) occurred when one student (who had never traveled to a great extent), whose parents were concerned about her registering for the trip because they feared that she would get lost while abroad, ended up helping the group navigate from place to place and ultimately became more savvy about the routes than anyone, including the faculty.

 

One morning we visited the campus of Purdue partner institution Czech Technical University.  We had the opportunity to learn from demonstrations by Dr. Pavel Burget, Head of the Czech Technical University’s Industrial Automation Group and learned about their robotics initiatives and their collaborations with multinational organizations such as Škoda.  The group enjoyed the descriptions of their robotics labs by members of the university’s student international club.  

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Purdue University students at Czech Technical University

 

While on campus, we visited the National Library of Technology, where the students go  study and research, and we listened to a lecture about the integration of technology into the curriculum (see below).  We noticed that again, students drank alcohol freely in the library.

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2) Cultural Excursions and Immersions:

There is a venue in Prague containing the Munich Agreement document, a contract stipulating that Britain and France would cede the Sudetenland of the Czech Republic.  This agreement occurred with unacknowledged Czech protests and is seen as a low point in the history of the country.  Prague was the last democracy to govern in Eastern Europe, but in 1948, the country became communist and found itself under the authoritarian rule of the USSR for more than 40 years.  In 1968, reformers galvanized efforts to allow freedom of the press and other reforms until the USSR deployed 200,000 troops to storm the country and crush the rebellion.  The Velvet Revolution was a non-violent shift to capitalism and democracy that started as a student protest in November 1989 on International Students’ Day, leading to a non-violent era of political upheaval.  The first elections since 1946 were held in June 1990 and overturned the one-party communist system.  Students have taken an active role in shaping Prague.  Since Charles University in Prague is a public higher education institution, it is free for all Czechs.

St. Wenceslas Square, the historic center of Prague and a World Heritage Site, was first established in 1348 as a horse market.  It has been the epicenter of all the major political protests, speeches, and demonstrations over the years, from the Proclamation of Independence in 1918 to events in the German occupation, to communism, and now capitalism.  We spent quite a bit of social time there.

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St. Wenceslas Statue at the Historic St. Wenceslas Square

 

St. Wenceslas Square also includes the famous Charles Bridge, first constructed in 1357 during the reign of King Charles IV, who founded the first University in the city.

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Students at the Charles Bridge

 

Politických vězňů  (Political Prisoners’ Street) commemorates the brave citizens who were imprisoned for their political beliefs, in most cases under communist rule (below).  Political Prisoners’ Street (below) served as the Prague Gestapo (German) headquarters during World War II, and many local Czech citizens were held and interrogated there.  Anyone speaking out or leading a campaign could be labeled as an enemy of the state.

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Political Prisoners’ Street

 

The New Town area of Prague, first built up in 1348, is also home to the Museum of Communism, which provides an overview of the recent history of political freedoms in the Czech Republic.  The current freedoms enjoyed by the citizens have been fiercely fought for, as we saw in a documentary video, and have resulted in the capitalistic prosperity that the citizens now enjoy as seen in the pictures with students below.

 

Czechs enjoy their sports, and sports are shown on televisions at hotels but not at local establishments like in the US.  The NBA playoffs were in the conference semi-finals during the trip, but none of us noticed any games or highlights being played.  There was no hint of baseball either.  Popular sports in the Czech Republic include soccer, ice hockey, and tennis.  In particular, ice hockey games were broadcast prominently during our time there.  The International Ice Hockey Federation’s playoffs, which garnered much local attention because the Czech Republic team made the semifinals, took place during our stay.  We were lucky to be in Prague during the USA vs. Czech Republic quarterfinal hockey game of the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship (below, right).  Some members of the US Embassy were watching the game during our visit.  The USA team won 3-2, but we saw them lose in the semifinals to Sweden a few days later.  Škoda was the official main sponsor of the tournament.  Their logo can be seen at center ice (below, center) and on the hockey helmet of the Czech player (below, left).  In a company press release, Škoda stated “Ice hockey may be considered one of the Czech national sports and thus it’s only logical that Škoda Auto, as a Czech company, supports it with great devotion” (Škoda-auto.com, 2018).

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The U.S. Embassy in Prague was established with the appointment of the first Ambassador, Richard Crane from Chicago, Illinois, in 1918.  This year, the US and the Czech Republic are celebrating 100 years of official diplomatic relations.  The U.S. Embassy in Prague is housed in the Schoenborn Palace, built in 1643 on the site of a symbolic house destroyed during the Thirty Years War, when Swedish forces invaded Prague.  We had the opportunity to tour the American Center at the Embassy and learn more about the role of US diplomats living in the Czech Republic.

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A Sgt. Pepper-esque photo with not only real people but cardboard cutouts in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The U.S. Embassy sponsors services for education, innovation, and manufacturing as they relate to promoting American interests in Bohemia.  Recently, Ambassador Stephen King was a key panel member at a press conference regarding the collaboration of American multinational organization General Electric Aviation and the Czech Technical University in Prague (Cz.usembassy.gov).  The collaboration is expected to bring more than 500 jobs into Prague, as well as offer new degrees in aviation at Czech Tech.  Below are pictures (left to right) of security inspecting a vehicle, students outside the embassy, and an opening welcome powerpoint slide.

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Our US Military Veterans were especially proud during the visit to the Embassy

 

Our hotel was attached to the professional soccer team SK Slavia Prague’s stadium in the Czech First League and coincidentally, team members were watching the Royal Wedding a few hours before their match.  One table of players was nice enough to take a picture with one student (Abbie).  The Royal Wedding can be seen on the television in the background (below, right).

 

A home soccer match was played on our last night, and a student-led excursion (Shelby) allowed us to easily watch the match.  We observed the typical European soccer chanting during the entire match.  Pictures included below are (left to right) the match day apparel store, game day action, a view of our seats, and the view from a student’s hotel room after the match.

 

Another student-led excursion included the 9th-century Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world, seat of the former kings of Bohemia (see picture below).

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One of the most popular and memorable aspects of these trips is the unplanned nightlife experiences in meeting and hanging out with people from other cultures.  For instance, one evening some of the students setup a karaoke night that spawned some memorable moments, including our musical collaboration with a Norwegian group, as seen in the mutual sing-alongs and a spontaneous collaboration with a member of their group that sang with a duo from our group (below, left).

 

3) History of Capitalism/Trade:

The Czech Republic was one of the most affluent countries in Europe until communist rule took over.  Since the Velvet Revolution, the Czech Republic has dived into capitalism and international trade.  Today, the country boasts one of the fastest-growing economies in the EU.  After joining the EU in 2004, its global competitiveness has made it the heart of many European global networks.  The economy grew from less than $50 billion GDP in 1989 to over $200 billion today.  The Czech Republic’s first modern democratic/capitalist leader, Václav Havel, is credited with redirecting its economy after playing a key role in the Velvet Revolution.  Although the Czech Republic has made massive strides since adopting capitalism, including an astounding 4.5% annual GNP growth rate, many reminders of its Eastern European past remain, including the Czech Republic’s not yet adopting the Euro as currency.  It’s always challenging for students to adapt to the Czech Korona (crown) due to its high denominations.

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Our currency for the three days in Prague.  1000 CZK = $46

 

The Communism and Nuclear Bunker Tour of Prague and the Museum of Communism are both relevant examples of how the limitations and suppression of the old communist regime set back the production capabilities of the country for much of the twenty-first century.  Although the country had been the center of production for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, communist rule thwarted much of the usual production capabilities.  The Communism and Nuclear Bunker Tour, always a favorite group excursion (partly due to our humrrous and knowledgeable guide David Patak), highlights relevant communist and capitalist moments between the 1940’s and the Velvet Revolution, including information related to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s coordinated assassinations of capitalist leaders in Prague during the 1950’s.  The bunker could hold 150 people for 2 weeks.  The VIP Hotel above the bunker was for notable communist political leaders from around the region.  An escape tunnel went to Wenceslas Square 15 meters away.  One of the pictures below shows a map with the various nuclear bombs in Czechoslovakia pointed West, along with the points of the various communist armies.  We were able to play with the 1950’s-era communist spy equipment developed by Czech technology experts, wear communist military garb, and hold 1950’s-era guns.

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Students dressed as Czech soldiers aligned with the old Soviet regime

 

 

Cooks weren’t used to using fresh ingredients in the communist days, so fresh food is not common and there is not much of a culture of restaurants and eating out.  Soup (polevka), beef sirloin with gravy/boiled sausage/ketchup/mustard on a roll (the Czech rohlík), and goulash/meat stew with white rice are all common.  Some students seemed to enjoy Czech cuisine more than that in Bavaria, including some of the dishes pictured below (student photos by Rubin: Bohemian Beef Goulash on the left, Czech kielbasa (sausage) on the right).

 

Of course, group dinners tend to be lively.  One night we ate dinner at an Irish restaurant at St. Wenceslas Square.  It’s mind-boggling to be at the location of so many monumental political events over the past centuries.  Central Europe and Prague have truly been the epicenter of so much world-changing political upheaval, chaos, and change (both for good and bad).

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On to Hamburg…

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP): 23% (World Bank) 

Munich is both a cultural hub, as the center of Oktoberfest, and the economic engine/high-tech center of Germany.  Not only does Germany have the strongest economy in the EU, but Bavaria, the Southern region of Germany of which Munich is the largest city, has the strongest economy in the country.  The city boasts an advanced public transportation network and world-renowned infrastructure, which can be partially credited for its  supply chain capabilities.  President Eisenhower observed the German transportation infrastructure as a General in World War II and used it as an inspiration for the Interstate Highway System program of the 1950’s.  Students had the opportunity to learn about the efficiency of the U-Bahn (subway) as a method of getting from place to place.  We used the U-Bahn dozens of times to help us get around, and many of the students became proficient in navigating it.  We also utilized trams, the S-Bahn (subway to the suburbs), buses, and other common modes of European public transportation (seen below).

 

1) Multinational Automobile and Supply Chain tours:

The City of Munich (2016) website states that “In terms of turnover and the number of employees, automotive engineering is the single most important branch of industry in the Munich Metropolitan Region”.  Germany is the leading country in the EU in automobile production and has been called the world’s automotive innovation hub (Germany Trade & Invest, 2018).  Bavaria claims 180 Tier 1-4 automobile suppliers, including factories for Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Opel (GM), Audi, and BMW.  Bavaria boasts “modern solutions for sophisticated requirements in supply chain management of automobile manufacturers” (Invest in Bavaria, 2016).  The City of Munich (2018) states that “400 automotive companies employ around 128,500 people” in the city and “The entire value chain is based in this region, including everything from research and development through production to the supply industry.”  In fact, Munich University offers a popular bachelor’s degree in Automotive Engineering and Management.

BMW (Bavarian Motor Works) is a German automaker known for quality vehicles and value-added components.  They have embraced their responsibility to the environment through green manufacturing, which reduces landfill requirements, paired with a water conservation initiative, saving 9.5M gallons of water each year across their global facilities.  One of the many quality initiatives in place at BMW is the usage of methane gas to power factory turbines, which supplies 50% of total energy demands for the company.  BMW was one of the first organizations in the automotive industry to earn the prestigious ISO: 14001 certification (BMW Manufacturing Co., 2018).  BMW’s global supply chain includes 30 industrial sites in 14 countries on 4 continents and includes 13,000 suppliers in 70 countries (BMW Group, 2018).

We toured the BMW factory and observed the behind-the-scenes production of this world-renowned automobile from press works to assembly.  The museum/showroom displayed many innovative products.

 

Students were not allowed to take pictures inside the factory, although they learned quite a bit about their manufacturing process.  The tour of this state-of-the-art facility gave them a close-up view of the Press Shop, Body Shop, Paint Shop, Engine Shop,  Production of Interior Equipment and Seats, and Assembly.  The factory produces 222,000 vehicles per year (of 2,367,600 vehicles worldwide, or the 5th-most  productive of their 14 worldwide plants) and encompasses 400,000 square meters, making it the second-largest BMW factory behind the factory located in South Carolina.  Unlike in America, rail is the most common mode of transport of vehicles from the factory to vendors.

Students had the opportunity to learn about and observe the following:

  • 16 variations of vehicle body frames for the 2019 product lines
  • differences in vehicles made for the Japanese, UK, and American markets
  • the automation of 850 robots during the welding process
  • the paint shop (environmentally friendly water-based paints) including BMW’s 16 official standardized colors
  • production of their 3, 4, 8, and 12 cylinder engines (their 2,000-employee team produces 3,300 4 cylinder engines/day)
  • air jet cleaning for a dust-free surface before painting
  • automated Excel table recording production in real time (called automatiktabelle)
  • brake inspection process after assembly

The factory is currently exploring a new production digitization process including 3D-printing capabilities and an innovative data matrix code to trace individual parts for defects.

 

2) Cultural Excursions and Immersions:

We enjoyed numerous cultural activities, including seeing the Royal Palace.  First constructed in 1385, the Royal Palace is the largest city palace in Germany and was formerly home to Bavarian monarchs.  It was reconstructed after being damaged during World War II, when 88% of the city center buildings in Munich were destroyed (below, right).  The 15th-century Cathedral of our Lady, or Frauenkirche, miraculously survived the bombs (below, left).

 

We also had the privilege of touring the U.S. Consulate General in Munich, Germany.  There to greet us was Generalkonsulin Jennifer Gavito.  Before serving in this position, she worked as Chief of the Political Section at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, where she was acting senior political advisor of Middle East peace negotiations and U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem, Gaza City and the West Bank of Israel (De.usembassy.gov).  We also had a rich conversation with four US diplomats who gave us insight into their function and answered questions.  Many of us have never been prouder to be Americans (no pictures allowed in the facility).

Some German cities established commissions to determine how to rebuild after World War II.  While some such as Frankfurt chose to rebuild in a modern fashion, Munich chose to study old photographs and rebuild its old town area to replicate the original design, which includes the Royal Palace and other relics of the city’s historic center.  The Munich Town Hall in Marienplatz, where the mayor and city council conduct business, suffered damage during Allied air raids in 1944, but was later rebuilt in the same style.  We had a chance to listen to the Glockenspiel, which plays twice every day.

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Students in front of the New Town Hall (Containing the Glockenspiel)

In February 2017, the NATO Security Conference was held in Munich at the magnificent Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich (below).  This meeting was especially important because Vice President Mike Pence delivered an important speech there discussing the current administration’s policy on NATO, seemingly on the heels of comments by Donald Trump proclaiming NATO to be “obsolete” during the campaign season.  Conversations with locals and other Europeans often resulted in questions about the US President.  Coincidentally, one of our two Rotary club international meetings was in the restaurant in the basement of this hotel.

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Bayerischer Hof hotel

 

The Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich was also host to frequent guest Michael Jackson, who could often be seen walking around the nearby shopping area somewhat undisturbed.  In tribute to his love of Munich, the locals dedicated a monument outside the hotel to his memory.  One stipulation of the monument was that it has to be immaculately kept-up, and the flowers need to be in bloom.

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Memorial to frequent Munich visitor Michael Jackson

 

Bavarian cuisine, inspired by the Bavarian dukes of the Wittelsbach family, was originally intended to be for the refined and only for royalty.  It includes bratwursts, German potatoes, sauerkraut, warm red cabbage salad, veal, and German pretzels.  These foods became more widely available over time as common people started making more money.  Today, these foods are especially popular during the Biergarten season, which starts in May and lasts until Oktoberfest.  Of course, trying new foods is an important part of learning about new cultures.  Students had a perfect opportunity to try German cuisine at two local Rotary clubs (seen in pictures below), which included the traditional exchanging of club flags.  We were especially lucky that during one of these meetings, the program (guest speaker) included the 2017-2018 Bavarian Beer Queen.

 

The popular image of Germany (bratwurst, lederhosen, pretzels, etc.) comes from Oktoberfest, which originated in 1810, when King Ludwig I celebrated his wedding by inviting Munich’s citizens to eat and drink with the Royal Family.  In this same spirit, we had dinner at the Hofbrauhaus (below), founded in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria.  It formerly served as the royal brewery in the kingdom of Bavaria, but the general public began to be admitted in 1828.  Today it is owned by the state of Bavaria.

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Dachau Concentration camp was the first concentration camp in Germany and was a model for subsequent German camps as well as Joseph Stalin’s gulags.  It was initially constructed to hold German and Austrian political dissidents after the prisons became overcrowded in March 1933, and many prominent politicians were sent there.  It eventually took in Soviet prisoners and also served as a concentration camp for more than 10,000 Jewish men.  More than 4,000 political dissidents were killed there, which was against the Geneva Convention.  After it was liberated by the Americans, it was used by the Allies to hold SS guards awaiting trial and as a military base until 1960.  Its official records totaled 206,206 prisoners.  Below is a photo to the gate to the Dachau Concentration Camp with its inscription, “Work Sets You Free” (below, left) and students in front of the restored prisoner accommodations (below, right).

 

A poignant moment at Dachau was chronicled in a student’s blog post (below):

“Overwhelming. Being raised within a Jewish community, the Holocaust is something that is taught, as it is understood that the stories should never be forgotten. Pictures in a museum and words in a textbook are just that- pictures and words. When we ventured out to Dachau, my only expectations were the ones from the many accounts that I’ve been fortunate enough to learn about. I kept my composure fairly well, until we approached the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ gate. As cliché as it sounds, the next two hours were an ’emotional rollercoaster’.  Walking along the same paths, and glaring at the same architecture that the prisoners did, was horrifying, but also refreshing in a strange way. It is important to remember those who perished, but knowing that I, an American Jew with Eastern European roots, was able to walk their grounds, made me realize that I am evidence of Nazis failing in their overarching plans. It was ultimately an extremely introspective experience, and I am glad I was able to finally see one of the places I have learned so much about over the years.”   

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Jewish-American student Adam Gross

 

Munich is home to many multinational industrial operations, and more than 90,000 students attend its Universities.  The Munich University of Applied Science, the second-largest Applied Science college in the country, is a strategic partner of Purdue University, with transfer agreements and a history of collaborations.  We had the opportunity to take a tour of their campus and learn about how their system of education works.  Public universities are free for all citizens in Germany.  We found that their bookstore also serves as a cafe, where students can use textbooks and return them thereafter.  We also learned that students drink beer freely and often in class.  While on the campus, we had the opportunity to see their 3-D cave and lean manufacturing lab (below).

 

3) History of Capitalism/Trade:

Soaring over the city is the 290-meter high Olympic Tower at Olympia Park.  This area witnessed much economic development after 1966, when the International Olympic Committee awarded the 1972 games to Munich.  Olympia Park became a case study in how sporting events can be a catalyst for both urban development and private economic development.  The announcement of the 1972 Olympics in Munich set a precedent that the Super Bowl committee adheres to today, as plans are solicited for gentrification and other urban economic development in advance and economic development initiatives are intended to coincide with the event.  The ’72 Games included the infamous Munich massacre, in which eleven Israeli Olympians were taken hostage and killed.  Since Olympia Park is next door to the BMW factory, students had the opportunity to explore.  Below are photographs of student at the top of Olympic Tower (right) and students inside Olympic are photographs Stadium (left).

 

In 2012 Munich and its region was ranked second place in the European Regional Economic Growth Index (E-REGI) among nearly 326 competitors from 33 countries in Europe (Colliers International, 2016).  Munich has the highest per capita income in Germany, and many attribute this affluence to the US influence in its economy during the Cold War.  The German Patent and Trademark Office established its headquarters in Munich in 1959 and has spawned many successful multinational organizations originating in Munich.

As usual, some of the most noteworthy experiences are unplanned.  Students are encouraged to explore during their free time so that they can enjoy alternative aspects of the city.  Below are photos taken by one student (Thomas) who took a trip to the Residence museum (left) and the Toy museum (right).

 

Of course, soccer is the most popular sport in Europe.  FC Bayern Munchen, the local team, was ranked #4 on the Forbes list of most valuable soccer organizations, valued at $2.7 Billion.  This value was enhanced after a 10-year deal with German-based Adidas as the official athletic apparel of the company.  One subway exit we sought out was near the massive stadium.  One student (Rubin) learned how to get around the U-bahn fairly quickly and on the first night took a trip to take a look at the stadium’s famous night lighting (see below).  He stocked up on some apparel on another day.  It seems like every year, a student adopts FC Bayern Munchen as their new favorite team.

 

Of course, during the available free-time, student led excursions are encouraged.  One student (Bill) led a contingency to the Munich Philharmonic (below).

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On to Prague…

The fourth and final leg of the trip was to Rotterdam, Netherlands, 310 miles from Hamburg.

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP): 12% (World Bank) 

Rotterdam is a progressive, multicultural city whose mayor is the first in the country to be an immigrant, a Muslim no less.  New Economy (2016) noted that “Rotterdam has embraced innovation and experimental programs in order to develop into one of the world’s most sustainable cities.”  The city has been chosen as the host of the 2025 World Expo, an international conference which addresses major global issues.  It’s been stated that “people were drawn to the city because of its new smooth running transportation networks” in the past several generations (Rotterdam Marketing, 2016).  The New York Times included Rotterdam as a “Place to Go” (New York Times, 2014) and it was named one of the world’s top 10 cities to visit in 2016 by Lonely Planet.  It is quickly becoming a hot tourist destination, with overnight stays in hotels going up by 14% in 2014 (Economische Verkenning Rotterdam, 2016).

 

1) Multinational Automobile and Supply Chain Tours:

The Netherlands employs the least percentage of its citizens in manufacturing of all European nations (European Union Eurostat, 2016) but serves as a supply chain epicenter.  The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and an integral cog in the European supply chain.  It handles more cargo than any American port.  The Port currently boasts “safety, accessibility and sustainability” as key priorities (Port of Rotterdam, 2016).  In hopes of becoming the smartest port on earth, leaders recently put forth a comprehensive plan called “Port Vision 2030″.  The Port recently received a loan of €900 million from the European Investment bank due to the need for increased capacity, and it has been labeled by the EIB as a “vital organ” of the European region (European Investment Bank, 2015).

One modern usage of the Port of Rotterdam includes the RDM (Research, Development, and Manufacturing) Innovation Dock, a collaborative effort with Hodgeschool Technical College.  The campus runs much of their operations in the Innovation Dock, which is a group of intermodal manufacturing workspace occupied by young entrepreneurs who seek improved supply chain access for their products.   Pieter Van Gelder first designed the Innovation Dock area along with a community of houses and residential spaces behind it (which we toured) so workers didn’t have to travel far for work.  Today, student machining and robotics labs work in conjunction with the Innovation Dock’s startup organizations.

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During our stay, several Hodgeschool Technical College Automobile Engineering classes were in session (seen in the background of the picture below on the left).  We were able to check out one of the College club’s prototype engines in their racecars.

 

The Port of Rotterdam sees 315.2 million metric tons of incoming throughput and 129.6 million metric tons of outgoing throughput every year.  Automation and technology in the Port are constantly being upgraded.  Automated cranes usually pick up and unload containers, as only 50,000 of 19 million containers are inspected in full.

Bicycles are a common mode of transportation in the Netherlands, as there are said to be 13 million active bicycles in the country out of a population of only 16.5 million.  Reflecting Dutch culture, our Port tour was by bicycle.  Our tour guide first provided us a history of the construction of various phases of of the Port, which tends to coincide with the peak of imports and exports of certain products.  For instance, the massive Container Terminal was built in the 1960’s to accommodate the influx of American electrical appliance imports.  Each area is constantly modernized, including full automation in the Container terminal.  1 of 3 consumer products in the EU goes through the Port at some juncture.