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In high school, Clara Diehl was fascinated by electricity and how pure physics can be used to power heavy machinery. Today, the Electrical Engineering student is collecting experience at Mercedes-Benz in order to help advance fields such as e-mobility and autonomous driving. In her interview, Clara explains why a dual study program was a must for her, how she was able to get off to a good start at Mercedes-Benz from the very beginning and how she simply feels good as a student.

Clara working on her Bachelor’s thesis in our Stuttgart-Esslingen offices.

Clara, you have been taking a cooperative degree program in Electrical Engineering at Mercedes-Benz and Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) since 2017. Why did you opt for that route?

More than a year before graduating from high school, I did some research into what my options were. I was looking for a program that would give me a good idea of how things work in actual practice. In my opinion, regular degree programs often provide little opportunity for that. That is why a cooperative degree program was really the only thing that fit the bill for me. I then visited the open day at Mercedes-Benz's training department in Untertuerkheim. There, I talked to students on cooperative degree programs, and took a look at the various courses that were available. Electrical Engineering suited me the best, so I applied.

What do you like about electrical engineering in particular?

Electrical engineering covers many topics that will play an important role in the future. I find the fields of e-mobility and autonomous driving particularly fascinating. Electrical engineering is an important part of both of these fields. Technology in this area is developing very rapidly, and I believe that Mercedes-Benz is one of the best places for taking part in this development.

How does the cooperative degree program work at Mercedes-Benz?

I started here with eleven other students. During our first week, we had a training workshop in Esslingen-Bruehl, where we got to grips with the basics. This included a power electronics course and a course on vehicle technology. This was followed by alternating phases of theory and practice. The theory is taught for three months at the respective DHBW campus, in my case in Friedrichshafen, and we spend the practical phases at various different units within the group.

How do the practical phases look like?

Our first practical phase involved a joint project for the entire group, i.e. all 12 students. We worked on a concept in the field of "car-to-X". The question we were looking at was the issue of how vehicles can communicate with each other and with infrastructure in the future in order to prevent accidents. Very interesting. For my other practical assignments, I was then able to choose the units that interested me the most.

In my opinion, conventional degrees frequently offer too few opportunities to really get to grips with practice. That is why a dual study program was really the only thing that fit the bill for me.
Right from the start, the 21-year-old felt that the dual study was a great choice.

Which units did you choose?

I spent one practical phase at Mercedes-Benz Vans looking at different potential future modes of transportation. For my second practical phase, I opted for the TecFabrik  in Sindelfingen, where entirely new production concepts and systems are tested. I then spent three months at Mercedes-AMG, where I was involved in tests of high-voltage batteries. My final practical phase was in production, where I wrote my bachelor's paper on risk analysis in high-voltage battery assembly. The aim was to improve safety in the production and maintenance of electric vehicles.

What do you find special about studying at Mercedes-Benz?

The coworkers in the different units are simply great. No matter which team I was in for my practical phases, I always received a warm welcome and learned a lot. And Mercedes-Benz offers students a lot of opportunities, including certain units for practical phases and international experience. I felt good about it right from the start.

What was your experience at the start of your degree?

The first few weeks were already cool. There were a lot of events for us, such as the Students Day. I especially enjoyed the driving event. We were given cars from the fleet and took a tour of the Swabian Jura. This gave us first-hand experience of the vehicles that we would be working on during our degree. During the first few weeks it was particularly helpful how our contact persons explained everything to us individually.

My co-workers are simply great. No matter which team I was in for my practical phases, I always received a warm welcome and learned a lot.
Clara’s advice: „Find out which career paths are available to you and what suits you best!“

What do you mean, exactly?

First of all, we have our mentors, who are available to answer any of our questions regarding our degrees. And at the start, we each had our own “sponsor”. These are fellow students who are further on in their degrees, who gave us great tips for our courses. At the same time, there is a good network between us students, in which we can discuss exams or practical assignments.

Do you have any advice for pupils who are considering the dual study program?

Find out what is available and what suits you. For me, a dual study program at Mercedes-Benz was the best decision. Even while studying, I am learning what will be important when I enter the world of work. And if you are not sure yet, you can always start with an internship.

One last personal question: of the people in your family, who do you think deserves a Nobel prize – and which one?

Definitely my sister. She has a very good vocabulary that she keeps surprising us with at home. Which category? Perhaps the Nobel Prize in Literature (laughs).

At Mercedes-Benz, I can apply my knowledge from my lectures directly to the vehicle or in production. So even while studying, I am learning what will be important when I enter the world of work.
In person: Clara Diehl (21) Clara Diehl's interest in cars stems not only from the fact that she was born in Baden-Württemberg, home of the automobile, but also from her passion for science and technology. Math and physics were already her favorite subjects in school. In her cooperative Electrical Engineering program, she applies her theoretical knowledge from lectures directly to the production of the latest electric vehicles at Mercedes-Benz. Clara not only deals with a lot of energy for her degree, but also in her spare time, where she always gives 100% playing handball, swimming or skiing, for example.