Unspoken Perks of Tauber Internship Broaden Team’s Horizons

December 6, 2016
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Tauber teams working with companies around the world have solved unique operations problems and experienced the culture and flavor of their host locations since 1991. Kyle Gilbert and Ryan Kennedy share the fortunate byproducts of working in Europe for BorgWarner Transmissions in the summer of 2016.

Ann Arbor, MI - The University of Michigan’s Tauber Institute for Global Operations is a recognized leader in Operations and has a reputation for producing top level execs for the world’s biggest and most successful companies. The knowledge generation, innovative education, and hands-on experience make Tauber’s paid internships highly sought after by top recruits around the world. Best of all, it’s not all work and no play for Tauber teams.

Take the BorgWarner Transmission Systems team of Engineering Global Leadership students Kyle Gilbert (BSE Electrical Engineering/MSE Industrial and Operations Engineering) and Ryan Kennedy (BSE/MSE Industrial and Operations Engineering). The duo was chosen to tackle the Multi-Stage Inventory Optimization and Machine Learning Analytics project at the automotive supplier’s Heidelberg, Germany location. In between creating a cross-functional standard operating procedure and a prediction tool to systematically evaluate process parameters for friction plate production, they found plenty of time to have unforgettable experiences traveling through Europe, both together and separately.

As part of their experience, Gilbert and Kennedy traveled together to Berlin, Prague, and the French Alps to explore the culture of each region and take in the second-to-last leg of the 2016 Tour de France. Kennedy was able to visit Amsterdam and Austria, and was thrilled to watch tennis at Wimbledon in London. “Attending Wimbledon and hiking in the Bavarian Alps, as well as staying at the Rappenseehutte, were likely the most memorable parts of my trip,” said Kennedy.

Gilbert recalls the Tour de France was his favorite side-trip of the summer. “We stayed in the small ski village of Les Gets, hiked for two hours to get to the race route and even though we were drenched and cold, it was a crazy experience being so close to the racers and seeing such a world famous event,” said Gilbert. He also found time to venture off alone to Munich, Paris, and Lucerne. His parents made the trip to Paris to see the City of Lights with him, and he was able to meet up with friends in the beautiful Swiss Alps. He said that Lucerne was memorable for its fine food and amazing views, and that he’ll remember the beer tasting in the Czech Republic because he met people from San Sebastian, Spain where he studied in 2015.

“Now that I have my second international experience under my belt - this time in a country whose language I could neither speak nor understand - I feel a lot more comfortable in new environments. I believe this will transfer to my work after school, where a lot of traveling will be involved and I will be meeting new people, both personally and professionally. I also pay much more attention now to the differences between cultures, and have an understanding that language barriers not only affect your communication with a company, but also affect your work in more subtle ways, such as how we are able to use technology with its different syntax in code, licensing agreements, etc. This taught me that you need to look at not just the obvious differences in a new culture or company, but also the small details that may have a greater effect later on,” said Gilbert.

Kennedy and Gilbert credit the entire BorgWarner Heidleberg team, with its own cultural diversity, for helping to drive home the global experience of their summer internship.

“My heightened international acumen has provided me with the exposure to think big and consider different perspectives when tackling complex, global problems, which appear more and more frequently as globalization continues,” said Kennedy.

The team’s work for BorgWarner Transmission created a combination of communication, scheduling, inventory and machine learning tools to improve output and resolve current problems. Combined use of the deliverables will allow the Heidelberg facility to free up capital through inventory reductions and service level improvements by integrating dynamic lead times, scheduling optimization, and streamlined processes. The improvements have also strengthened the BorgWarner Quality Management System regarding the collaboration with suppliers as well as with internal and external customers.

Gilbert said that BorgWarner’s Christian Bauer and Volker Reiners were exceptional bosses to sort through problems with, and the sense of humor that they brought with them to work each day made the daily meetings more enjoyable.  "I think that good-natured humor can help create a good working atmosphere by helping to break up the monotony of a day and allow people to enjoy their time in a company," Gilbert said, "However, the leadership was also very straightforward about goals and what needed to be done... I hope to be able to take a variation of this style with me."

The team’s solutions for BorgWarner Transmission were awarded a second place prize at the Tauber Institute's annual Spotlight! competition held in September.