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The years of the Corona pandemic have changed all our lives. INP employee Louisa Weil has also felt the difference in her studies of electrical engineering, specializing in automation technology.
She is completing a dual study program at the DHBW in Mannheim, alternating between practical phases and lecture periods every 3 months. Since she is already in her 6th semester, she knows the differences of dual studies before and during the Corona pandemic. "In general, the quality of the studies already suffered a lot during the lockdown," she reveals. "There was simply a lack of communication and exchange with each other. Normally in lectures you sit in the lecture hall with many other students and if you have problems understanding you can quickly ask your neighbor, that was no longer possible with the online lectures."
Learning was also a lot harder because it was no longer easy to sit together in groups or quickly read through other students' notes. "Sure, you can learn together online, but it's not the same!" explains Louisa. Online lectures, she says, are less interactive than live lectures. Facial expressions and gestures play a major role, and live lecturers are more likely to recognize whether they need to reinforce the topic with examples or whether the subject matter has been understood.
Moreover, online lectures are very monotonous and there is always a risk that concentration will wane just when the greatest attention is required. During these online phases, it is important to motivate each other among students, such as forming study groups to eliminate mutual deficits. "Without my two study partners, I would never have made it this far in my studies!" said Louisa.
Close contact with Hans-Gerd Knoll (Head of Development, Education and Training at INP Deutschland GmbH) also contributed to the motivation. He took care of the students' worries and fears. Sometimes with unusual methods, such as hiking together in the Palatinate Forest.
In addition, a long-time project was continued at INP headquarters in Römerberg: the INP Student Choo-Choo Train, a model railroad that runs around a small power plant. The project, which aims to explain how a power plant works and how lighting affects the energy supply, consists of small PLC automations. It then works via LEDs that are attached like a kind of running light and sometimes light up faster, sometimes slower in succession. This project at INP involves all students, regardless of semester, and thus also strengthens communication among them.
Finally, Louisa tells us how she got the idea to study electrical engineering. "I love math and physics, and I wanted to do something practical," she says with a big smile. She found electrical engineering totally exciting even as a child. With this profession, she thinks it's cool that you take on a relatively large amount of responsibility, but that it's also risky because you know, Okay, if something goes wrong, we've got a big problem! "I love challenges and the topic of energy supply is just interesting," she reveals. "Everything that has to do with electricity and power identifies our age and everything that goes into Industry 4.0 like robotics, IT, that's what makes our age special and that's how we moved forward."
"Also exciting to me is renewable energy. This is moving us forward, has a lot of future and a lot will happen in this field. The same goes for the topic of automation, there's a lot of computer science involved, that's an area that still has a lot in store for the future and I'm looking forward to understanding more of it in the future and being involved in it myself."
Four years ago, I started my dual studies at INP Germany GmbH in Römerberg in cooperation with the DHBW Mannheim (Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University Mannheim) and graduated last year as an electrical engineer. Actually, I never really thought about what I wanted to be. My dad is also an electrical engineer, and since electricity was generally very interesting to me and I loved math at school, it was pretty clear which direction my studies would take.
But it was no picnic! It really must be said at this point, because to study in addition to working all day requires much discipline. The first few semesters cover a lot of theoretical information. If you don’t stay on top of things, you’ll lose quickly.
Eventually the course included project work, which was my favorite part of studying. For example, once we had to program a reaction game, which was a lot of fun.
After completing my studies, I was given the opportunity to work on a project in a furnace-gas-fired power plant near Bremen, and I am currently preparing for a wind farm in the North Sea. I will work partly on the onshore station, but also on the platform. I will be primarily responsible for the signal checks. About 3 years are planned for this project. But that does not mean that I won’t see my family and friends until then. I actually get to go home every 14 days.
For those who want to learn this profession, I can only advise you to inquire beforehand what it entails. In addition, you should have a real interest in these issues and be willing to work through a lot of study material in a short time.
With INP you have an employer at your side, where a great working atmosphere prevails. I think it's great to work with students and new trainees, but also with experienced professionals. Even if sometimes something happens at the last minute and everything suddenly seems chaotic, you manage to master the tasks together again and again.
For the future I hope to be involved in more exciting projects, but above all I look forward to an interesting job and a happy and satisfactory life. And then let's see where life takes me.