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Undergraduate Global Experience | SCM Badgers in Germany


April 9, 2024

Over spring break, I had the incredible opportunity to learn about the automotive industry in Germany alongside a wonderful group of fellow BBA students. Accompanied by Assistant Director Blake Bishop and Verda Blythe (MS ’02), the goal of the trip was to explore the challenges and opportunities facing German automotive manufacturers and suppliers in a period of change and disruption.

The trip was preceded by a preparatory course (Contemporary Topics in Supply Chain Management) taught by Verda Blythe. We studied German history, culture, economy, politics, educational systems, business environment, and took a deep dive into the state of the automotive industry. Each week, three teams would present on a listed topic, and we all contributed to a class discussion based on related readings. The semester flew by, and before long we were flying off to Germany to apply our knowledge in real life.


Students, Blake Bishop, and Verda Blythe in front of the Our Lady Church in Dresden.
Students, Blake Bishop, and Verda Blythe in Saxonian Switzerland.

Our journey began with four days in the beautiful city of Dresden. We experienced a cultural and historical tour of the city, followed by some time to explore on our own. The following day, we took a pitstop to experience the natural beauty of Germany in Saxonian Switzerland. There we met up with Professor Ingo Gestring, our faculty partner at the University of Applied Sciences Dresden (known as HTW Dresden).

Later in the day, Professor Gestring and his family hosted us for coffee and traditional Saxonian cake in his home. He then led us on an insightful tour of nearby Stolpen Castle, a historical landmark with 800 years of history.

Lastly, the Gestring family was kind enough to host us for a delicious BBQ and teach us about German culture. We were heartened by their hospitality and had a wonderful experience.

Students, Blake Bishop, and Verda Blythe with Ingo Gestring and his family at their home.
Students with Blake Bishop and Verda Blythe at the Volkswagen Plant in Dresden.

The next day, we had the opportunity to visit the HTW Dresden campus and had an insightful discussion with Professor Gestring. That afternoon, we had our first site visit at the Volkswagen Plant in Dresden. The VW plant produces 30 cars a day, all the electric ID.3. We gained valuable insight into sustainability initiatives and the future of EV production in Germany.

We wrapped up our time in Dresden with a presentation and tour at SOLARWATT, the only remaining solar panel producer in Germany. We learned about the intricacies of solar panel production and alternative energy forms being considered to address the German energy crisis.


Our first stop in Leipzig was none other than the highly decorated Porsche factory. The factory produces the Porsche Macan and Panamera, both combustion engine and hybrid/EV models. We were impressed by the high standards of lean six sigma, optimization, and usage of automation to alleviate the strain of human labor.

“We saw a lot of the knowledge from our supply chain coursework in action. I was in awe of how complex it is manufacturing a single car and have gained an appreciation for the art of optimized production.”

Brenda De La Torre, BBA ’25
Students, Blake Bishop, and Verda Blythe at the Porsche Factory in Leipzig.
Students enjoy Bratwurst at a market in Leipzig.

On our second and final day in Leipzig, we experienced a guided tour of the city and had some time to explore the area. Some students visited a nearby medieval-themed Easter market and did some light shopping.

Our final site visit was a stop at the DHL Hub in Leipzig. The unique, late-night tour of the hub was an interesting insight into the shipping industry. We experienced package processing and loading in DHL’s largest hub (34,000 square meters), which processes hundreds of thousands of packages every night. Afterwards, we took a bus tour of DHL’s tarmac where they fly planes out of the Leipzig airport.


The final destination of our weeklong adventure was the German capital of Berlin. After taking a high-speed train from Leipzig and spending some time sightseeing on our own, we had a guided tour of the Berlin. We learned about Germany’s long history leading up to and after its unification in 1871, visiting sites such as the Brandenburg Gate and Berlin Wall.

Throughout the trip, we spent our free hours spending time and getting to know one another as classmates, colleagues and friends.

“Going abroad with a cohort of fellow SCM students built a strong sense of camaraderie. It was a great experience forming bonds with students from various grades and backgrounds who I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise.”

Priya Mehra, BBA ’24

The trip was a success overall, allowing us the rare opportunity to experience another country’s supply chain and culture through a short-term study abroad experience. The Grainger Center offers the Global Experience in Supply Chain Management every year, alternating destinations between Germany and Norway. I would highly recommend it to any supply chain student interested in global supply chain management.

by Clara Schroepfer, BBA ’24