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10.06.2021

Research Semester in South Africa

Students in the MSc Digital Industrial Management and Engineering programme on their experiences at Stellenbosch University

Timur Landmann, Adrian Burkhart and Thorge Lackner from ESB Business School study with mit Bradley Fourier and Theuns Kuehn from Stellenbosch University (f. l.).

By Sven Rottner

In the MSc Digital Industrial Management and Engineering programme, students spend their second semester at one of two partner universities. Despite the pandemic, Adrian Burkhart, Timur Landmann and Thorge Lackner were able to spend at least part of their semester abroad at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Here they talk about their postponed arrival in Stellenbosch, their everyday study life and the activities Stellenbosch has to offer.

You are spending your second semester at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Were you able to go to the partner university at the beginning of the summer semester?

Adrian Burkhart: We were delayed a bit, but we were able to get to Stellenbosch at the beginning of April. We actually spent the first part of the semester in Germany.

Timur Landmann: For us, the journey more or less started at the beginning of the year with online modules that we took at Stellenbosch University. Of course, we would have liked to fly to Stellenbosch earlier to swap ideas directly with other students there.

Thorge Lackner: The online lectures worked well. Our modules were divided into lectures and group work. Especially by working in a team with students from Stellenbosch University, we were able to make our first contacts.

What is everyday student life like at Stellenbosch University?

 Landmann: Stellenbosch is one of the biggest universities in South Africa and the Faculty of Engineering in particular has a good reputation. We explored the university buildings extensively with our fellow South African students.

Lackner: We share our workplace in the Industrial Engineering building with other master's students, which makes it very easy to talk. And our workstations are located close to the offices of the supervising professors.

What research projects are you working on at the moment? 

Landmann: My research is about human-robot collaboration. The goal is to find out how lightweight robots can be integrated into production flexibly yet safely. 

Burkhart: My topic deals with intelligent products in assembly. I would like to develop a procedure that enables companies to more easily implement and exploit the potential of intelligent products. 

Lackner: The focus of my research is the use of 5G in an industrial environment. By developing a framework I’m seeking to better implement 5G applications for assembly and logistics.

  What is student life like in Stellenbosch outside of the daily study routine?

Landmann: There are many restaurants and other ways to end the day here. You can go to a to bar or have a leisurely dinner, and there are plenty of sports activities. There are many tennis courts at the university. And the beautiful trails in the mountains make you want to go cycling.

Lackner: There are also several beaches nearby. If you are an avid runner, you can always find a running partner or group to join.

Burkhart: Stellenbosch University sports teams offer club sports such as rugby, field hockey, golf and athletics.

What else is there to do in Stellenbosch?

Landmann: The focus is, of course, on advancing our own research topics and incorporating the knowledge we’re gaining in South Africa. But there are also weekends where we get out into the countryside and get to know the culture. We have made a number of trips with our fellow South African students.

Lackner: One of the excursions was a weekend along the Western Cape and many places known only to insiders. We even had the opportunity to spend time with the South African families of fellow students.

Burkhart: We also had the unique opportunity to stay at a South African farm near Mossel Bay. Unlike Cape Town and Stellenbosch, it was a chance to gain insights into rural life in South Africa.

Thank you for sharing these experiences.