Monday, September 9, 2013

Heading to Germany!!

The day has arrived! Most of us are headed to Germany today (while a couple left earlier, and at least one person is already on the ground in Munich). We've accomplished a lot since that first day we met in San Ramon on July 7 (and before that, the planning/organizing phone call on June 20th). At that time we knew only that we were headed to Germany (and perhaps elsewhere in Central Europe) and - based on some conversations I had with the German-American Chamber of Commerce - a vague sense that energy efficiency, and sustainability in manufacturing, might be key focal areas for the trip. Manufacturing (and automotives) is a no-brainer given the vast reputation Germany has in this field. Energy efficiency because while Germany is a leader in manufacturing, it has almost no raw materials, including energy. Everything must be imported and therefore efficiency - and sustainability - become very important. Germany, through a mix of private initiative and public policy, has become a leader in this area, and we determined quickly on that first day that we wanted to learn more about this.

Since then there have been numerous planning meetings, data collection, analysis and presentations, students' pitches (for visiting certain companies, industries, cities, regions), several debates and votes - and finally we have settled on a plan. Students have worked hard and patiently to reach out to contacts at various German organizations, all in the middle of summer when everyone was on their long summer vacation!  Yet, they persevered and had many successes (and a few failures) - and at the end we have a very packed calendar. We spend 3 business days in Munich (and a weekend), then one in Ingolstodt (home to Audi and the Catholic University), followed by 3-4 business days in Frankfurt. We look forward to a lot of exciting and informative meetings and conversations, and will be sure to keep you all informed as things move along.

For now, time to complete the packing and travel planning ...

auf Wiedersehen, und danke für das Besuche.

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