Neuwschwanstein Castle and Munich

Today we left the hotel, loaded up with some sack lunches.  Our travel on the highways and side roads was very challenging as we had times  of heavy snow, wind, icy roads, and drifting snow over the roads.  Our first stop was the Neuwschwanstein castle in southern Bavaria.  After getting our tickets, we then had a 25 minute climb up a mountain road to get to the castle.  When we got to the castle, it was snowing heavily with strong winds and it was difficult to see the castle.  The tour was excellent. Afterwards, we came down from the mountain and then climbed on the bus with our sack lunch.

Our next brief stop is know as Wieskirche or the church in the meadow.  It was a beautiful example of baroque architecture.  The outside was plain but the inside was amazingly ornate in white, gold, and marble.

We then headed to Munich with our first stop at the Steelcase Learning+Innovation Center.  This is a working showcase of effective ways to configure an office environment.  Klaus and Helmut walked us around and explained what we were seeing.  It was an excellent look at up and coming office environments.

Our final stop was downtown Munich.  We stopped at the Marionplatz and the students had a short time to explore before we had a huge meal at the Hoffbrauhaus.

Gentex and Ulm, Germany

Today was a little bit more relaxed than some of the other day.  We had three goals:  1) visit the company Gentex, 2)  get lunch and explore Ulm, and 3) arrive at our hotel in Landsberg am Lech.  After a short drive on the autobahn, we arrived in Erlenbach, the location of the German facility of the Gentex Corporation.  The home of Gentex is Zeeland, MI and the company specializes in  mirror and vision systems for automobiles, windows for aircraft, and smoke alarms.  The facility in Erlanbach provided Gentex a localized presence with the major German automakers, allowing them to work closely with them on new designs.  We had a brief introduction to the company and then the class was divided into 3 groups, one to hear about future product ideas, one to see how the distribution of parts from Zeeland happens, and one to test drive some of the new concepts.  It was a great visit!

We then left for Ulm, the home of the tallest cathedral in the world.  It was a bit rainy and so students could only climb up part of the way to the top.  Ulm was also a place to get lunch and do a little shopping.  We arrived at our hotel in Landsberg am Lech where we were treated to a wonderful buffet of German food.  We then had time to discuss our experiences of the past several days.