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Project I²P²: Students and profs from Brescia on a return visit to Hof

Since last year, Hof University of Applied Sciences has been successfully running the short exchange program I²P² in cooperation with the DAAD. The university develops joint courses and projects with six international partner universities in Finland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Mexico and the USA.

The modules offered are interdisciplinary and open to students from all disciplines and faculties. Credits earned during the project can be credited to almost all bachelor’s degree programs. The primary goal of I²P² is to optimally prepare students for work in a multicultural and networked world through joint, intercultural and interdisciplinary learning in lectures and practical projects.

In the summer of 2022, five students from the Industrial Engineering and Management program accompanied by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Anke Müller, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, were at the University of Brescia in Lombardy/Italy as part of the I2P2 sub-project “Product Development”(the campuls editorial team reported)

Now the return visit of the guests from Brescia was scheduled from May 11 to May 18, 2023: six students and Prof. Silvia Agnielli as well as Prof. Stefano Pandini from the University of Brescia visited Hof. The theme of this year’s cooperation between Brescia and Hof was “Vertical Gardening”.

On the day of arrival, the reunion was great and during a welcome dinner, the good cooperation and contacts from last year were quickly rekindled. On the following day, they went on a one-day excursion to Dresden. The main focus of the visit of the Italian delegation was the realization of the prototype for the Myriad Autonomous Gardening project already developed in Brescia in the Hofer Makerspace. The students then presented the results to its founder, Yannic Hönle.

The International Office invited the guests to a presentation on the diverse study opportunities at the university. In addition, the Italian students had the opportunity to learn about Vishay Electronic GmbH’s field of activity during a tour of the company in Selb.

A Bavarian breakfast on the Theresienstein, a tour of the Meinel brewery in Hof and a barbecue evening provided a good opportunity to deepen the friendships that had been established.

Short interview

The campuls editorial staff talked to Dean Prof. Dr.-Ing. Anke Müller about the visit from Brescia to Hof and the topic of this year’s cooperation “Vertical Gardening”:

campuls: How did the collaboration with Myriad Autonomous Gardening come about?

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Anke Müller: MyRiad was already an excursion destination in the Startuplab project – this is also how the contact to Yannic Hönle came about. Yannic was immediately enthusiastic and offered to be there as an opening pitch and as a feedback provider in an advisory capacity. I was happy to accept!

What was the goal of the collaboration and the theme “Vertical Gardening” for the students?

The collaboration in the I2P2 project aims to inspire young people to spend time abroad. It is a good opportunity for our dual students because they can participate during the semester – after all, they are often involved in the companies during the semester breaks.
It is similar for the cooperation university Bresica – peppered with the perception of what practice-oriented teaching looks like and how our students tend not to learn “frontally” but in teams and small projects. In the end, you learn much more in such projects than just the “subject matter” – in this case, product development according to the Design Thinking method.

How were the teams divided up and the project planning phases carried out?

The matching of the teams was done by the students themselves in online meetings! These online meetings were completed by a language crash course, also offered online, and a language speed dating and country-culture stereotype exchange over lunch. The speed with which our students learn the language never ceases to amaze me!
We experience the 5 phases in Design Thinking in two parts: Understanding-Observing-Defining and gaining initial solution ideas in the first week in Brescia. Getting feedback and finalizing to the prototype and pitch took place in the second week in Hof.

What technologies were used to realize the planned projects in the MakerSpace here in Hof?

The students were allowed to use everything, René Göhring, the supervising professor from Brescia Stefano Pandini and I were available as contact persons the whole time. This year there was a lot of craftsmanship in wood and plastic processing, some used Playmobil and supplemented this. Last year, solutions using Fischer technology and virtual reality were also part of the project implementation!

Was the project successful and was the goal achieved?

From my point of view, the clear answer is: Absolutely! I am always happy when I see how the project takes on a life of its own, the teams really grow together, exchange and discuss opinions and agree when they will meet again! Then the goal is achieved – to break down reservations about international cooperation and language barriers and, of course, to expand one’s professional knowledge.

Kirsten Hölzel

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