SUNRUNNER Summer School 2019

Hochschule Reutlingen's first international and interdisciplinary Summer School under leadership and coordination of ESB

By Agnieszka Grzesiak

For the third time eleven students from Reutlingen University travelled in mid-September to a two-week Summer School in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Besides students in the MSc Digital Industrial Management and Engineering master’s degree programme at ESB Business School, this time Professor Dr Vera Hummel (ESB) was able to welcome on board students from the Schools of Informatics and Engineering.  

Welcome to Cloetesville
As in previous years the Summer School began with a social project. Together with Samaritan’s Feet South Africa students and staff of both universities distributed shoes to children in need at Cloetesville Primary School in Stellenbosch. They washed the children’s feet and fitted the shoes – for many they were the first shoes of their own they had ever had. During the time spent together there was lots of laughter, singing and playing. This positive relationship reminded the children that their life matters and encourages them to dream and have hope. At the end of the day all of those involved agreed that it was an enlightening experience which had made them more aware of the needs of the poorest social class in South Africa.   

Practice-related teaching at Stellenbosch University
The subject of maintenance was the focus at this year’s Summer School. After a one-day workshop in the Industrial Engineering Department, the participants moved to the STC/IAT Laboratory at Stellenbosch University. Accompanied by Professor Dr Dominik Lucke (ESB), three interdisciplinary teams conducted maintenance potential analyses with regard to Smart Maintenance/Reality Technologies.  Then the work groups drew up maintenance plans and concepts for enhancing the laboratory (SLM machine, five-axis CNC milling machine and wire eroding machine) and implemented them prototypically in the form of an app.

Transfer to industry

In the second week the students were divided into two interdisciplinary teams at Metrorail, a subsidiary of PRASA, the South African state railway at the Salt River depot in Cape Town. Their goal was to develop and present measures to increase efficiency in the maintenance equipment for small and large components. They were guided and mentored by professors and scientific staff members of ESB Business School and Stellenbosch University, PRASA Chair. In their work they applied the typical methods of factory planning and process optimisation such as expert surveys, rough planning and route analysis. On the basis of the actual state analysis they identified the project-specific KPIs and potentials and developed practice-oriented solutions. The participants found starting point especially with respect to the redesign of the assembly station and the warehouse which they recorded in a roadmap.  

Thus the students were able to transfer to application the skills from three subject areas and additionally became more familiar with the working conditions and processes in the dynamic economic region of South Africa. The results of their work were presented first to the entire management of PRASA via video conference; a second presentation was given for the parties involved at the depot in Salt River. Both times the proposed solutions met with great interest and received very positive feedback.  


The Summer School was supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) within the framework of the SUNRUNNER project. The SUNRUNNER project (Stellenbosch (SUN) and Reutlingen University’s new Researcher) focuses especially on the expansion of existing cooperations eg. the research master's programme DIME as well as the creation of common structures between Stellenbosch University and Reutlingen University. To promote intercultural exchange and learn specialised contents in an international environment a summer school takes place in Reutlingen and Stellenbosch on an alternating basis.   

For the great organisation and support for the Summer School 2019, the Reutlingen Team would like to extend a warm thank you to the colleagues from Stellenbosch, Department Industrial Engineering: Professor Dr Louis Louw, Hermien Louw, Dr Wyhan Jooste, Devon Hagedorn-Hansen and Konrad von Leipzig, as well as to Pieter Conradie and last but not least to Olabanji Asekun from the PRASA Engineering Research Chair.