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FISITA Travel Bursary - Serkan Bekcekaral

1 July 2020

Name Serkan Bekcekaral
Course Industrial Engineering and Management
University Friedrich-Alexander-University (FAU) of Erlangen – Nuremberg, Germany
Placement BMW Group Connected and Automated Driving Lab, Shanghai, China

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.

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.

The current Covid-19 global pandemic means that government advice for residents of many countries is to stay home and not to travel. We have therefore taken the decision to not award any Travel Bursary this year to students so that we do not encourage any unnecessary travel or face to face contact – we appreciate this will be disappointing news to many but we are doing everything we can to bring other opportunities and initiatives to students, engineers and academics via online platforms wherever possible.

We caught up with Serkan Bekcekaral who received a Travel Bursary in 2019, before the global pandemic restricted travel:

1. What did you do on your placement?

From Fall 2019 to end of Spring 2020, I had the unique opportunity to be placed as an intern and simultaneously write my Master’s Thesis at BMW Group in the Connected and Automated Driving Lab located in Shanghai, China. My Thesis was co-supervised with the University of Michigan – Shanghai Jiao Tong University: Joint Institute and the Friedrich Alexander University.

My focus of the thesis was on the development of V2X scenarios that should enhance autonomous driving capabilities. I was directly integrated into a scrum-based feature team that was working on V2X features.

By conducting extensive research and as a result of internal discussions, I identified V2X Use Cases for connected and automated driving by following a systematic approach and built high-level implementation scenarios. Together with the team, I was involved in the implementation of a specific scenario that was related to traffic light detection by V2X, which unfortunately fell short of completion due to the pandemic. I furthermore developed and proposed a Use Case deployment roadmap for China regarding C-V2X Use Cases. I lastly performed a techno-economic assessment based on different market penetration scenarios in China and derived conclusions for future technology investments.

My colleagues have shown me great support and have always given me the freedom to act independently and follow the agenda of my research ambitions. I was also given the opportunity to participate in field trials ground and see how real-world testing was performed outside of the simulations. These are all experiences that I will remember for a lifetime.

 2. How did you spend your free time?

Shanghai is a very diverse and westernized city compared to the rest of China. The city is definitely an international hotspot that resides the most interesting people that I have ever met. I also could find any taste of food that I looked after, western as well as traditional. During my time there I befriended domestic and international interns, with whom I am still in close contact. Still, after staying for a half year, Shanghai had enough spots that I could keep exploring. It really never became boring to live in this city. I could use some of my free time to take some trips to the ancient city of Wuzhen and hiking on the mount Huangshan. Both of these trips belong definitely to my highlights in China and allowed me to experience the Country from different perspectives.

 3. How has the FISITA Travel Bursary helped you?

Shanghai is undoubtedly the most expensive city in China. It is even for the most part more expensive than cities like Munich in Germany. The FISITA Travel Bursary could relieve me from the burden of most of my living costs, such as rent, food, insurance, and flight. While I expected to use some of the bursary for more traveling around the country after to my Master’s thesis, I eventually had to use it to purchase my flight ticket back to Germany at a peak cost, during the most chaotic and intense times of the Covid-19 pandemic. I could eventually finish my thesis remotely without any major problems. During these difficult times, the FISITA Travel Bursary saved me from great financial dept during the most challenging times of my life - I want to thank you for this full-heartedly.

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

By the time of writing this, I am expecting to receive my Master’s diploma very soon. I am looking forward to either enter a trainee program at a Major OEM company, enter a dynamic startup that works on topics of future mobility, or even create my own mobility startup. The experience abroad has really let me discover what I really want for my future career, which is to contribute to the disruptive business models of the mobility industry.

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

Disruptive, Agile, Transforming