My name is Brad Krough and I lived in Munich, Germany for two semesters doing a co-op for BMW. BMW is the largest manufacturer of premium vehicles and employs over 10,000 workers in Munich alone. I have always loved the German language and culture, so I decided early on to minor in German language. The International Engineering Certificate works out great for engineers like me, who value language skills but are majoring in Applied Sciences or Engineering. I’ve always loved cars and being a member of the Colorado Formula SAE Racing Team, the opportunity to work for BMW was a dream come true.
I worked as a test engineer in the exhaust emissions and fuel consumption department of BMW’s famed Driveline Development Division (Entwicklung Antrieb). My job consisted of optimizing the test and measurement equipment on the chassis and motor dynamometer, as well as optimizing the test procedures for the different vehicles. In addition, I had the chance to work with alternative fuels and drivelines. My division was also responsible for emission regulation requirements around the world. My boss is well-known in the world of exhaust emissions; he helped to develop much of the technology and procedures still used today. It was cool to read technical documents and then realize that your boss was the author. In the work environment, business was conducted in German, and while some of my colleagues could speak English, most were more comfortable just speaking in German. It was difficult at first, but my technical German has improved a lot.
Munich is a beautiful city with lots to see and do. It is the capitol of Bavaria (Bayern), a region and people known for their love of life and beer. The two are often enjoyed together in Munich’s many parks and Biergartens. I lived in BMW student housing, which saved a lot of money, as Munich is Europe’s most expensive city. Students came from all over Europe which gave it an international flavor, and my first roommate was a student from Bulgaria. The German people are extremely friendly and are always happy to have an American tag along to a party or a night at the bars. While my best friends I met in Germany were fellow Americans from MIT, we were never at a loss for things to do with our many German friends. I think that embracing the German culture made my experience that much better.
My experience working for BMW was a good one. German businesses are very open to Americans, and there are endless possibilities for co-ops. German students must complete at least two internships to graduate with a degree. For this reason internship spots are readily available, and the work is important to the companies – that means no making coffee making for the boss! I was also lucky enough to drive different BMWs (some worth more than 120,000 dollars!) almost everyday to BMW’s many installations in the Munich area. These are perks of the job!