My name is Karsten Wenzke and I will shortly be completing my studies for a bachelor's degree in Mechanical engineering at the Fachhochschule Flensburg. I am completing my industrial placement assignment and my bachelor's thesis with Voith in Heidenheim. The placement site is a healthy 820 kilometers away, but the many and varied duties in the Research and Development department for Fluid Mechanics at Voith convinced me to come here.
My main task during my internship is to assist with the optimization of the Voith Schneider Propellers (VSP). Other areas where I am required to help include the development of new and alternative propulsion systems for ships in the various operational areas. These include tugboats, service vessels for offshore wind farms and drilling rigs to name just a few possible applications and scenarios.
My first day at work began with an introductory event with other student trainees, after which I was shown to my new workstation in the department. As I was being instructed in the most important programs and processes by my supervisor, it became clear that it would be several weeks before I mastered the principles of the software and could use it confidently. That had already been pointed out in my application interview, so it was neither a surprise nor a problem. I was also introduced to the whole department in the first week, so I was able to find my way around very quickly and felt more and more involved in the processes.
"As an industrial trainee in Research and Development I work in the realm of flow simulation and I can work with the most up-to-date equipment and software."
My activities as an industrial trainee begin where the work of the classic design engineer stops.
I receive a geometry, or create one myself, and read it into my program to configure it so that I can then optimize it quickly and easily. To do this, I have to create the design using as few as possible but still sufficient parameters. Only then can the actual flow simulation start.
Then comes the final documentation, with validation, evaluation and a summary report of the project, all in close consultation with my supervisor. We are also working together to refine this process further and to classify the results. Through it all, my supervisor is always ready to hear my questions and answers them fully. Through working together closely and discussing my questions every day I am gaining insights into many areas of activity of an engineer. At the same time, independent working is desired and is encouraged. All in all, I am receiving the benefit of much experience, learning methods for approaching questions, and instruction in precise working habits which will stand me in good stead for the future.
Of course every workday also has a lunch hour, which I enjoy spending with other interns and student trainees, sharing experiences and talking about my tasks in the staff canteen, or sometimes even in the Heidenheim Inner City.
In closing, I would like to say that I have enjoyed my industrial placement very much and that it has far exceeded my expectations. This was definitely helped by the excellent working atmosphere in the department and the great variety of engineering activities I was required to carry out.