Skip to content
Drake Dessecker and other Cooks Grand Challenge Honors students stand in front of the Mercedes Benz factory in Zurich.

Study Abroad Student Report: Drake Dessecker

My name is Drake Dessecker and will be a rising senior in Mechanical Engineering. This past summer I took part in the 3 week Engineering in Zurich program to complete the introductory level Global Experiences portion of the Cook Grand Honors Challenge. This program consisted of the IE495: Reliability and Business Excellence course. Taking this course was a great insight into how factories run and improve their day-to-day operations. Completing this program also allowed me to explore a different country and see European culture from within.

The class consisted of lectures with the professor as well as different factory and museum tours. During the lectures, different topics were discussed to provide an overlook on how factories were able to implement changes to increase overall productivity and reliability within the company. Apart from class lectures, we visited different locations to see how some of these practices looked in real life applications. Two of the factory tours that stood out were Trumpf and ABB. Trumpf is a machine manufacturing company responsible for industrial applications as well as smart facilities. ABB is an automation company responsible for implementing new technologies into various work environments to optimize performance. Both of these companies displayed the aspects talked about in the lectures very well and it helped to be able to see that in a real-world environment.

A scenic view of mountainous and rolling landscape with blue skies in Zurich.
An aerial view taken from a chair lift showing a mountain side sparsely covered in snow.

After class time, the evenings and weekends were free to explore Zurich as well as surrounding cities. Navigating the public transportation system posed a challenge at first but quickly became an easy way to go from place to place. Learning Swiss culture and comparing it to American culture was very interesting as some things were similar while others were vastly different. Over the weekends we got the chance to travel into the Swiss Alps to a couple of different mountain peaks, seeing the amazing views they consisted of.

Overall, this experience was something that will stick with me moving forward and I highly encourage anyone interested to pursue a global experience if possible.