I was about to take the first big final exam in my life – the bachelor thesis in mechanical engineering. Having the right company at your side as support is incredibly important. Now I’ll tell you how I experienced my bachelor’s phase in the plastics engineering department at TÜV Rheinland.
My way to the mechanical engineering studies
After graduating from high school, I started studying physics at the University of Bonn in 2012. The decision to do so was not difficult for me, as I had already enjoyed the subject at school. However, in the course of my studies I noticed that the direction was correct, but I missed the practical aspect.
So after four semesters I changed my course of study to “General Mechanical Engineering” at the University of Applied Sciences in Koblenz. Definitely a good decision. Part of this subject is an internship semester and the bachelor thesis, which together form the conclusion of the course. So I started looking for a company where I could gain practical experience and write my thesis – and found the TÜV Rheinland student program.
Support from the company
I then started at TÜV Rheinland Industrie Service GmbH in the department for plastics technology. There I got to know my supervisor Dominic Müller. His knowledge as an expert for plastic pipes and devices was a huge help for my bachelor thesis. He gave me technical advice, supported me in selecting the tests, and discussed the results with me. This exchange made it much easier for me to classify the evaluations, understand the overall picture and avoid misinterpretations.
The other employees from the department were also always ready to answer my questions. These conversations helped me to understand the connections much faster and better than I would otherwise have been able to. And there is a lot to understand when you write your bachelor thesis on the subject of “Aging of plastics”!
Searching for topics in the field of plastics technology
How did I come up with my topic? I would say, in the department of plastics technology there is almost no way around the topic of aged plastics 😉
I noticed that there was no guideline or standard for the employees to evaluate an old plant. I wanted to find criteria according to which an investigation could be carried out in a comprehensible and uniform manner by the various experts. The goal: a database that would enable the experts to make more accurate predictions about the service life of equipment, plastic components, and materials.
The Bachelor phase in plastics technology
At first, I started to filter out the most important data from the existing reports and enter them into the database. This was not only time-consuming, but also more difficult than expected. Since there was no standard for the reports and since the attachments are very different, the reports were not uniform either. In addition, the database should be set up in such a way that the input can be as simple, error-free, and fast as possible. To achieve this, I had to get used to a program from Excel, which I hadn’t even known until then.
However, most of the time during the bachelor thesis for my mechanical engineering studies was spent evaluating the experiments. Various samples of material were taken and subjected to common test methods of plastics technology. For example the “tensile test” in which the sample is pulled apart until it is destroyed. On the basis of these tests I was able to determine the actual state of a plant and came to the conclusion: Changes in the material can be detected even before the defects are visible. If an expert now carries out laboratory material analyses, obtains information about the history and intended use of the plant, and uses the database introduced as part of the bachelor’s thesis, he can make much more accurate predictions about the service life of the plant.
Time management during the Bachelor thesis
The Bachelor’s phase was a very exciting and insightful time for me. I learned a lot about plastics technology and also deepened my knowledge from my mechanical engineering studies. I didn’t know some of the test procedures before. And I was also surprised by the variety of plastics with their different properties and applications.
I was able to organise my working hours myself to a large extent. This way I could plan my free time accurately and spend the occasional day at the lake. The bachelor thesis was always on my mind and I continued to work on it, especially in the evenings or on weekends. Towards the end of the bachelor thesis there was really no time for anything else. In summary, I would like to say: I had a certain amount of free time, but I also had to be very self-disciplined and sit down at my desk regularly.
The conclusion and beginning of a new era
The moment when I handed in my bachelor’s thesis in the field of plastics technology for my mechanical engineering studies was a very nice one. After I received my diploma a few weeks later, I knew that I had now achieved my first professional degree.
I’m working on the next one right now – since April I’m enrolled at the RWTH Aachen University for the Master’s program in general mechanical engineering. There I am particularly interested in the field of medical engineering. Besides, I continue to work as a temporary helper in the plastics technology department of TÜV Rheinland. And who knows, maybe I’ll even write my master’s thesis at TÜV Rheinland. In any case, there are enough dedicated employees, interesting specialist departments, and exciting subject areas here.