A group of Michigan Tech students participated in an inaugural faculty-led study abroad trip to Germany over the summer. Ulrich Schmelzle, assistant professor of supply chain and operations management in the Michigan Tech College of Business, led a group of eight Huskies to his hometown of Hamburg. This once-in-a-lifetime tour will have a positive impact on students’ future careers, and will return as a study abroad option for summer 2023.
“One of the objectives of the Germany experience is to prepare students for careers in a globalized and interconnected business environment,” says Schmelzle, who has two decades of international industry experience in semiconductor and aerospace fields. Increasingly, recruiters emphasize the need for students to develop intercultural skills and awareness about different business etiquette when dealing with business partners across the globe.
Blending Theory and Real-World Practice
As a condition of the travel experience, students are enrolled in an operations and supply chain management course (OSM3000) during the summer term. While on the trip, the group engages in field trips to large-scale industrial operations, where they learn, apply, and discover supply chain and operations management first-hand across multiple industries, including aerospace manufacturing, automotive production, breweries, and processing plant operations. Schmelzle observes that students appreciate a variety of educational environments.
Equally as valuable are cultural excursions tailored to student interests, including museums, art, history, and WWII memorials, complementing the academic offerings. In addition, students practice and enhance their German language skills.
“As a professor, I encourage self-reflection and discovery through excursions. Learning also takes place outside of the classroom.”
On the 2022 trip, Michigan Tech alumni Archita ’06 and David Fritz ’06 ’09 ’12 sat down with students for a mentoring session. The Fritzes reside in Germany and have forged successful international careers. They shared their insights into building an international career while emphasizing practical dos and don’ts.
Student Experiences Abroad
Several program participants are planning to work internationally after graduating from Michigan Tech. Marco Marquez, a finance and accounting dual major, is interested in pursuing an international banking career. The study abroad trip strengthened his desire to go overseas after graduating from Tech. “If I want to strive to grow faster as an individual in a foreign area, I need to be willing to struggle and experience new things I don’t yet understand,” says Marquez, who calls Detroit, Michigan, home.
“Hearing about how others’ international careers have unfolded makes me understand how meaningful connections are,” reflects Reagan May, a civil engineering major from Boyne City, Michigan, who is minoring in construction management. Jon Bader, a management major from Alma, Michigan, agrees. “The value of networking is unreal,” says Bader.
Another takeaway for Bader: “Define success on your own terms rather than how others have defined it in the past.” Stephanie Franco, a marketing major from Detroit, quoted Archita Fritz with, “Don’t limit yourself to the logic of possibility.”
“Don’t limit yourself to the logic of possibility.”
The faculty-led study abroad program helps students broaden their horizons through experiential learning and develop new skills in different cultural environments. “Students have to stretch and go out of their comfort zone, which enhances their professional and personal growth,” says Schmelzle.
Germany Trip Summer 2023
Most Michigan Tech students may be eligible for the Germany Study Abroad, slated for July 24 to August 12, 2023. An informational meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, November 14, in Room 101 of the Academic Office Building. Please connect with Schmelzle with questions.
This program is funded in part by the Dean’s Advisory Council.
About the College of Business
The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, business analytics, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.