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FISITA Travel Bursary - Fabian Eisele

13 May 2020

Name Fabian Eisele
Course Management and Technology
University Technical University Munich
Placement The Quality Engineering Center (QEC) in Jacksonville, Florida (USA)

FISITA offers students the opportunity to apply for a travel bursary, of up to EUR 2000, to help with the costs of taking part in placements (internships, exchange programmes, work placements etc.) in companies and research institutions overseas.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we are not currently awarding Bursaries, however we are receiving reports and feedback from students we supported during 2019 who are completing their placements. 

These types of work experience can be life-changing and can lead to permanent jobs after graduation. They also allow students to make new friendships, develop professional contacts and gain invaluable experience in an ever-evolving and exciting industry. We caught up with Fabian Eisele who recently received a Travel Bursary:

1. What did you do on your placement?

I arrived in Jacksonville, Florida a few days before the official start of my internship at MBUSA. My plan was to acclimate to the climate and the time zone, while exploring the city. Sadly, that didn`t worked out since I had no access to any cost-efficient means of transportation for most of the time during the day. I had to rely on my fellow interns to drive me around after they came back from work. My accommodation was quite nice, I was living together with four other MBUSA interns in the so called “intern house”, owned by one of the engineers.

Ten days after my arrival I was finally able to purchase a Mercedes Benz E-Class made 2000, previously owned by an Engineer at MBUSA. Following in the steps of the German interns before me, I took the Floridian Driving Test. All I had to do was to correctly answer 30 out of 40 questions to get my Floridian driver’s license. This allowed me to drive a car after the 30 days transition period in which I was legal to drive using my European driver’s license. The flight, the new car, the quite expensive rent and the GACC fee all stacked up to quite a high amount of money, which quickly depleted my savings. Luckily, the generous FISITA Travel Bursary took some of the financial burden from my shoulders.

My internship was at the Service Engineering department in the Quality Engineering Center of MBUSA in Jacksonville Florida. The tasks varied from providing analyses of quality data to the engineers to supporting them while trying to diagnose buy-back vehicles in the Engineering Test Center. My main projects were setting up a MS Sharepoint database, constructing a new KPI tool via MS Power BI, taking the minutes for the AMG department call, researching all the available third-party AMG tuning parts, and clustering the NAFTA vehicle Launch Data. There were around 20 engineers in my department, each responsible for certain parts/specifications of the vehicle, acting as the third level support for the US-market. Overall, there were around ten international and five local interns in the building. Beside the daily hustle, occasionally there were some exemptional events that took place during my internship.

MBUSA is copying the concept of “Technical Days” from its parent company Daimler. Usually, its quite a large event with technicians and engineers from all over the country coming to the QEC to learn about new technologies and diagnosis methods. These kinds of events are on top of the MBSUA Learning Academy training, while also acting as a team event for the service engineering department. Due to cost cutting measures the Technical Days 2020 were rather small, only around 100 (field-)engineers were participating. We, the interns, had to act as the supporting staff for the event, getting cars and rooms ready for the teaching sessions. We also had the task to taxi the engineers from and to the airport, from which we took full advantage by only using the most prestige cars.

In Order to prepare the Engineers at the QEC for the roll-out of the new all electric cars by Mercedes-Benz, fifteen EQC were added to QEC test fleet. But first we had to pick them up at the Vehicle Preparation Center (VPC) in Brunswick, Georgia (s. Figure 5), which is why we ended up driving a convoy of fifteen vehicle back to Jacksonville. Driving in convoy for 45 minutes in the latest available, auto-driving, silent Mercedes-Benz was quite an experience.

2. How did you spend your free time?

After work, the interns frequently met at the beach to play some volleyball or to just hang out. Weekend trips were also an integral part of my experience in Jacksonville. It was brought to my attention that it is possible to watch a live rocket start at Cape Canaveral. So I asked around if the rest of the interns is keen to join and soon after we drove down to Cape Canaveral to watch the launch of a satellite, intended to study the sun.

One of the most memorable experience was in no doubt my trip to New York. My Girlfriend came to visit me over Christmas and among a visit to Savannah and St. Augustine we, also spend Silvester in New York. It was lovely! We had an AirBnB in Brooklyn and after not seeing each other for 3 months, the whole endeavor was just a fantastic opportunity to reconnect.

Last but not least, it would be negligent to not mention the frequent trips to the St. Augustine Outlet. I finally understood how everybody is able to afford t-shirts by Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger etc. which cost like 50€ in Germany and only $17 in the US. Obviously, I had to take to opportunity to get some good deals on new clothes.

3. How has the FISITA Travel Bursary helped you?

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 crisis severely affected the last two weeks of my internship. All the engineers and interns started to work from home, which is why I could not say good-bye to most of my colleagues. I also planned to spend my final days in Miami, which also got canceled, together with my original flight plan. I had to rebook for double the price of the original flight. Back in Germany I quarantined myself at my parents’ home, one month later I still have not been able to reconnect to my German friends. The situation sucks.

4. What are you going to do next in your career?

I will probably finish my masters at the Technical University in Summer 2021, right now I am focusing on gathering ECTS in spite of the ravaging Covid-19 crisis. Fortunately, I managed to get a student employment at a management consulting company, where I will be conducting a study about the future course of action for aerospace suppliers.

5. In three words, how would you describe the automotive and mobility engineering industry?

• fascinating
• changing
• male

 READ MORE ABOUT THE FISITA TRAVEL BURSARY