“Dear Karim, I am very pleased to inform you that you have been offered a position in the “Production Planning Power train and Cost Analysis” Department.”
I received this sentence in an email one day in March. I read it over and over again, trying to make sense of it. These few words gave me happiness that I couldn’t stop smiling for months. I was going to do an internship at Daimler AG, the best automotive company in the world, the daddy of the Auto. It’s one of my biggest dreams that was about to turn into reality!
I am 21 years old, I am Lebanese and I live in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. Lebanon is in the Middle East, located just above Israel, on the Mediterranean sea. I attend the American University of Beirut, I am studying Mechanical Engineering and I have one more year left before I graduate with a Bachelor in engineering.I started my internship in the middle of June, and to be honest I had no clue what to expect from the company or the employees. My first impression of Daimler was its size. It is huge, properly seriously huge!! Almost all of Stuttgart is built around Daimler; it has factories and buildings all over the place and the “Star” is present everywhere, shining on top of buildings all over the city.
The members of the department are really amazing, so friendly with so much experience; they really helped me feel comfortable immediately even though I speak almost no German. The start of the internship was admittedly a bit slow, but this is completely expected since it is all new for me. I began studying the calculation methods that they use, like TACO and DCCalc. Then, one of my colleagues started taking me to different meetings, with the R&D department, the procurement department and the supplier. This really helped me to understand more what this department does, and how the projects are set into motion, how the negotiations take place and how the deals eventually get finalized.
Young Arab Leaders (YAL) at Daimler
The program that is supporting Arab interns at Daimler is called YAL (Young Arab Leaders). This program facilitates the communication between Arab college students and big European firms. In the end of June, YAL organized a special day for the Arab interns at Daimler. They took us at first to see the production process of the C-Class and the assembly line of the S-Class. It was mindboggling!! The way these robots move in synchronization is truly amazing, and how a car transforms from a piece of steel or aluminum to a fully functional 21st century piece of engineering is truly spectacular. We then visited the Mercedes-Benz Museum, and this by itself is an experience. It is not only a car museum with some of the best cars in the world, from old classics to new supercars (My personal favorites are the Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman because of its astonishing hydraulic technology at a time when cars were made from cardboards and its historical significance as a “President´s car” thanks to its mammoth size and the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR because it aerodynamic shape is so beautifully cartoonish and it is one of the last supercars of the 20th century ), it is also a history museum about the world in the 20th Century and an architecture masterpiece. I always thought that the Mercedes-Benz “Star” represented any star, symbolizing the idea: to aim for the stars. However, the guide of our tour told us the real story behind the star. It stood for the dream that Daimler wanted to create a machine capable of driving on the ground, in the air and in the water; therefore, a star was created!! Finally, to add the cherry on top, we had a very interesting meeting and dinner with Herr Porth who is in the Board of Management, where we talked about our internships, the automotive world, and how Herr Porth got where he is right now. Herr Porths’ story is truly one of a kind, and it really shows that your work life is anything but planned and predictable.
During the following weeks, I was given more and more tasks involving projects, whether preparing PowerPoint presentations, Excel files or DDCacl sheets. I really felt that I was a part of this company and this gave me real satisfaction.
“I have a meeting with AMG in the afternoon, would you like to join me?” My supervisor asked me this one morning. I screamed “HELL YES”….in my head. What really came out was:” If there is no trouble I would love to join”. What would happen if you give a small child access to a chocolate factory? His eyes would widen, his heart will beat faster, his breathing will be heavier and he will definitely start jumping around. That’s what happened to the child in me. Imagine a place where you always dreamt of visiting, but knew that it is impossible. I was going to visit AMG!! AMG is the sport division of Mercedes-Benz. It is where the wizards forget how to make a civilized car and instead bolt a nuclear power plant on four wheels transforming the “Flying Carpet” into a “Supersonic Aircraft”. Upon arrival to the factory, we were greeted by the sight of several AMG models from the C63 AMG to the SLS AMG. The real reason of our visit was because my supervisor had a meeting concerning a specific car. I didn’t know if I would see the production line or any prototype, but I didn’t care because the mere visit to the factory was more than a dream. After the meeting, my boss was talking with a colleague from AMG in German. I tried to understand as much as I can from the sentences but it was too fast for me.
A view behind the curtain
I didn’t know what to expect when started walking, heading toward a door. As we walked through this door, I was overwhelmed with the sight of supercars. They were resting all around the room; the employees were taking care of them like doctors take care of patients on life support. I have never seen such a high level of professionalism. I couldn’t focus on one because they were all in front of me, my brain couldn’t process the images from my eyes fast enough. I just decided to focus on the first car in front of me. And lucky for me, it was the SL 65 AMG Black Series… I never thought that I would ever see this car live, ever, but here it was, in front of me, with all of its immense aerodynamic body shape, its wide body, fat tires, racing seats. The Black has such a presence that if you see it in your rear view mirror, you would unconsciously get out of its way as fast as you can. There were also the F1 safety cars, the C63 AMG estate and the SLS AMG, both dressed up in silver, with F1 Logo all over them, getting ready for the Hockenheim Formula One Grand Prix. I imagined them driving around a circuit with F1 cars screaming next to them. The lights on the roof give this supercar an aggressive look. This is why the police here should have the SLS AMG as their car, it is a necessity!! As we walked out of the building, I thought that this was the end of my visit to AMG. But, instead of heading to the exit, we headed deeper and deeper into the factory. As we walked, I saw several prototypes, all covered in black, trying hard to hide their revolutionary design.
We then entered a big garage and I was stopped dead in my track when I saw the first car my eyes caught. Sitting in the corner, surrounded by “Keep away” line, was a yellow lemon matt SLS AMG E-CELL. The only existing model in the world was in front of my eyes, for real, not on a computer screen. I can appreciate any body panel I want, I can see the high-tech interior and the wonderful seats that hold the driver when cornering at supersonic speed, I can absorb the flashy color, and I can follow the curves that aim at channeling air around the car with the least drag possible. It was there in front of me!! I couldn’t believe that this was reality…And if this wasn’t enough, I was greeted by a truly breathtaking sound.
Coming in the garage was a 1972 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG, in its flashy red color and sponsor decals. But its real show stopper was the sound coming out of these huge exhausts. If you want to know what the sound is like, just imagine an orchestra but in place of the musical instruments, the musicians have at their disposal the ability to create thunder and explosions. The sight of the original AMG in motion, firing on all 8 cylinders even after 38 years is really something special. I had a huge smile on my face, my heart wanted to leave my chest and just dance with excitement and happiness.
As we were walking toward the exit of the garage, there was one question that I had to ask:” Do you really build all your engines manually?” Herr Stephan Diemer answered:” Let us go see.” We were going to see where the beating heart of these machines is created, the birthplace of these amazing pieces of explosive sounds and oomph that are capable of demolishing the rear tires in mere minutes. As we opened the door, the facility was so state-of-the-art and so clean that I thought I was transported in the future. There are engines all over the place; each employee takes care of one engine at a time, from birth till it is firing on all cylinders. There are turbos, pistons, crankcase, crankshafts, camshafts and connecting rod everywhere and all are engineered to perfection, to withstand immense forces and temperatures coming from the fast explosions within. This is the place where true masterpieces are created.
As you can tell, this internship has really been exceptional for me. Almost two months have passed since I started and I still have a little over one month. I learned, saw and smiled so much during my stay so far, and I am positive that it will keep getting better. This internship and all of these visits showed me that no matter how wild my dreams are, anything can happen, with a bit of luck of course.