Dual study course: semester abroad as a perfect complement to theory and practice

13.05.2020 - Patrick Schuchardt, dual student at Grenzebach and Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen, seizes the opportunity to spend a semester abroad and gains valuable soft skills for his future career and working life.

Dual study programmes are a tradition at Grenzebach in Bad Hersfeld. Patrick Schuchardt came up with something new in this context this year. He combined practice with experience abroad – an ideal basis for starting a future career. "I can well imagine working on international projects for Grenzebach after completion of my studies", says the 21-year old. During the practical phases of his studies in mechanical engineering, Patrick Schuchardt gets to know various fields of work at Grenzebach, from engineering and design to optimising production lines. Participants in dual study programmes are also given the chance to develop their own intercultural skills early on. Patrick Schuchardt was the first student at Grenzebach BSH who combined his dual studies with a term aboard and spent the fifth semester studying in Lithuania. 

Growing sense of responsibility during the semester abroad

Whatever international projects may lie ahead for Patrick Schuchardt, it was clear to him that he wanted to use the semester abroad to improve his English. Having barely arrived in Lithuania, he became part of the Erasmus Student Network. As an active member he helped with the organisation of numerous events and also chaired a cultural evening for exchange students. That meant hosting an evening for some 150 students for the first time. "That job came as a surprise. I had about ten minutes to prepare for that," says Patrick Schuchardt. In the end, 350 young people from around the world chose him to be the "Most Social Erasmus" student. In addition to these enjoyable moments and events, well-honed English skills and new robotics and artificial intelligence skills learned at Vilnius Gedimias Technical University, the 21-old brought home one thing in particular: "Since my stay abroad I have become much more outgoing and self-confident. During the semester there I could gain a lot of valuable experience from which I can now also benefit in my daily work. And I am keen on continuing to discover the world."

Multifaceted tasks, working together on an equal footing

During his time in Vilnius, Patrick Schuchardt started building an international network and has since stayed in touch with students from Lithuania, India, Greece, Sweden, France and many other countries. Being able to work, in his native region of Bad Hersfeld, for a company with an international orientation and locations in other countries, including the USA, China, Brazil, India and Russia, is among the things Patrick Schuchardt particularly likes about Grenzebach. During the practical phases of the dual study programme he gets to know the company in a variety of ways, from preparing design drawings to participating in digitization projects and working on process technology assignments. In his current practical phase he is even creating a model for a ball mill for gypsum that can also be used for trials to determine the product fineness. "The daily work not only has many facets but also covers a broad technical spectrum. The joint projects quickly make people grow together into a team. The colleagues are always open and willing to answer the many questions I have. We help each other – that's a natural thing here," reports Patrick Schuchardt.

In his current practical phase, he is even working on a model for a gypsum ball mill. It can be used to run trials in the Hersfeld Technology Center to determine the fineness of products. Especially in the Technology Center, trainees and students can actively experience the product technologies of Grenzebach BSH. Equipped with a test field, and recently expanded by an optics laboratory for camera-based inspection systems, Grenzebach is committed to state-of-the-art technical standards. At Grenzebach, technical knowledge is taught with a strong practical orientation.

Long-standing cooperation with Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen

Nancy Fiebig-Weisheit, head of Human Resources at Grenzebach in Bad Hersfeld, is pleased about the experience Patrick Schuchardt gained during his studies and training. "Within the context of automation and digitization in industrial environments we offer attractive assignments in various job categories – all with an international element. Our commitment to the education and training of young people is something that matters greatly to Grenzebach. Young, dedicated employees are of great importance for sustainable corporate success. That's why at Grenzebach we are committed to providing technically sound and practically oriented training. We are particularly pleased that many graduates find a long-term professional home with us", says Nancy Fiebig-Weisheit. At present, 20 young women and men are apprentices and trainees at Grenzebach in Bad Hersfeld, seven of them as part of a dual study course at Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen, a university of applied sciences. These students are aiming for a Bachelor of Engineering (mechanical or electrical) or a Bachelor of Arts (logistics) degree. Grenzebach offers young people a variety of possibilities to find their personal way into their working lives.

The spectrum of apprenticeship posts in Bad Hersfeld is broad as well: industrial business management assistant, product designer, equipment and plant designer, IT specialist. "Whether as part of an apprenticeship or a dual study programme: Innovations can be experienced at Grenzebach, young people can work with and on technologies of tomorrow – not least thanks to considerable development budgets after a successful business year 2019", emphasizes Nancy Fiebig-Weisheit. "Dual students" have been trained and educated in Bad Hersfeld since 2006, and since 2011 Grenzebach has cooperated with Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen in this field. Fiebig-Weisheit: "We very much welcome the fact that spending a semester abroad as part of a dual study course is now becoming a rule. We wish to open up attractive working environments to our dual students in an international context. Being able to integrate semesters aboard into the studies complements this approach." To experience international working environments, spending some time abroad is also actively encouraged at Grenzebach locations in the USA and China.


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