A chic black sports car enters the car wash – and a world of soap bubbles and groovy music: “At the car wash!”
But take a closer look and all is not what it seems – it’s a toy car! What you’re looking at is a fully functional car wash, but in a scale of 1:10. It is the product of an international collaboration between two vocational colleges, Robert-Bosch-Berufskolleg in Duisburg, Germany, and ROC Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Some 20 students from each college joined forces in mixed teams to impress a panel of judges with the quality of their miniature car washes. All the designs were built using our MB Building Kit System.
The project was launched by “Ler(n)ende Euregio” and emerged from the fact that many mechatronics and electrical engineers living and working close to the Dutch/German border have customers based in the country next door. In most cases, English is used as the technical lingua franca, which makes it all the more important that both German and Dutch students learn how to work with partners from the other side of the border. Both direct communication and general cultural differences are equally important. While last year’s round of the project was held in Duisburg, this year’s was staged in the land of windmills and canals.
But what exactly is Euregio? It is a cross-border collaborative network that aims to encourage development in the areas of business and culture. “Ler(n)enden Euregio” focuses specifically on Euregio Rhine-Waal – the border area between Arnhem, Nijmegen, Cleves, Wesel and Duisburg. It is a grouping of vocational schools, training centres and state institutes that are working together to make sure trainees and students are familiar with the ins and outs of working life in their neighbouring country. This ensures not only that they gain valuable intercultural skills, but also that they will have better future prospects on the European labour market.
Twice the expertise for car wash construction
Tasks were clearly allocated among the mixed teams. While the up-and-coming mechatronics engineers from Duisburg looked after programming and controls, the future mechanical engineers from the Netherlands were responsible for the car wash modules. It was a fundamental requirement from the start that all the car washes should be compatible with the control systems used in the neighbouring country. Other than that, the teams were free to unleash their powers of creativity, which led to remarkable results.
The showdown was held on 4 July 2016 in Nijmegen. The mixed German and Dutch teams had to try and sell their car washes to a fictional company. A panel of judges made up of teachers and trainers first checked the functionality, cleaning performance and design of the car washes. Other important factors included how well the students presented themselves, demonstrated their solutions and communicated. Given the all-round enthusiasm for the project, there is no doubt that it will be carried forward. Next in line is likely to be a project between ROC Nijmegen and Berufskolleg Rheydt-Mulfort in Mönchengladbach.