For the last two weeks I have been in an automotive engineering class here at TU Braunschweig. University classes in Germany are structured differently from those in the U.S. becasue 100% of your grade is based on the final test at the end of the semester. Yikes! Needless to say, it felt like I was back at Mines studying last Thursday night. But besides stuffing my head full of gear ratios, types of transmissions and breaking circuits, we did learn a lot of interesting things about cars.
Each day we had lectures about subsystems of the car, and without knowing it, the teachers often used one phrase when answering these types of questions: “Why do you put the anti-roll bar on the back wheel?” “Why would you use louvers?” Your geeky professor just looks at you and states the obvious: “Oh! Because it’s more fun to drive.”
The Automotive Institute at TU Braunschweig also has a pretty neat testing facility, and some awesome cars to go along with it. After learning about the infrared cameras and other fancy features, it was fun to see them on an actual 100,000 euro car.
They showed us how to perform tests for vertical dynamics on a car chassis using quarter-car test rigs. We saw the tests for vibration and damping on an Audi A8. I never thought I would have seen a Fourier series put to use on an Audi but, sure enough, now I have.
We also went to the Autostadt, which is composed of museums and exhibits of all the different Volkswagen cars. It includes pavilions for Audi, Porsche and Lamborghini, companies owned by Volkswagen. We ran around designing out own Audi, looking at classic cars and sitting in some of the most expensive Porsches. For me it confirmed that someday I am going to spend an unreasonable amount of money on a car.
I have just been reading your articles, and I must say I am jealous! I am currently a senior at Fairview High School in Boulder and I am hoping to go to Mines in 2013. I have been debating with myself whether or not to major in mechanical engineering like you.
I have a passion for cars and hope to become an automotive engineer after I graduate, i think its is awesome that you are learning in the Auto capital of the world.