You can feel the enthusiasm when Emmelie Beitlich and Khiem-Jan Nguyen talk about Artificial Intelligence, Automated Driving and Big Data. As students of the Automotive Computer Science dual study program, the two are already working on the mobility of the future during their Bachelor's degree at Mercedes-Benz. In their interview Emmelie and Khiem-Jan tell us why they value the combination of practice and theory so much, and why prospective students do not have to be impressed by complex codes.
Emmelie and Khiem-Jan, you are studying for a dual Bachelor's degree in computer science with a focus on automotive at Mercedes-Benz. What has been the highlight of your studies so far?
Khiem-Jan: Definitely my first practical phase. I was on the team at Mercedes-Benz that develops the wiring harnesses - basically the nervous system of the vehicle. They connect the various electronic parts, control elements and components with each other. My task was to program a tool that helps the team evaluate test data during the development phase. My colleagues are really great and have shown me a lot. One of them, for example, is overseeing the development of the wiring harness for the next generation of Mercedes-EQ electric models. And I was able to get a look at prototypes of vehicles that are not on the market yet. That was really cool.
Emmelie: Yes, we are really close to new technologies here at Mercedes-Benz. My personal highlight was when I finished programming my first program and then it worked exactly the way it was supposed to. That was just special for me.
What exactly was the program about?
Emmelie: In my practical phase, I worked in a team that is developing intelligent routing to further improve the navigation systems of our vehicles in the future, for example using real-time traffic data. I was responsible for the connection to the vehicle. Many technologies and tools were completely new to me, but my supervisor encouraged and supported me. So, I quickly learned the ropes.
How did you find out about the dual study program at Mercedes-Benz?
Emmelie: In ninth grade, I completed a school work experience internship at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Untertürkheim together with three of my classmates. All the machines and robots in production - that fascinated me. That's why I applied for a dual study Bachelor’s degree program even before I graduated from high school - actually for electrical engineering.
And why did you choose Computer Science then?
Emmelie: I find the subject of automated driving extremely exciting, especially the many projects on the go at Mercedes-Benz. In the job interview, I told them that this is what I would like to work on. My student advisor then suggested that instead of electrical engineering, I could choose computer science with a major in automotive. I didn't have much experience with programming in school, and complex codes were completely new to me. But the possibilities offered by IT were very interesting. So, I took a chance and it was the right choice from the start.
Khiem-Jan, how was it for you?
Khiem-Jan: We had a project in school where we used a simple code to teach functions to a small model robot. This was my first experience of programming. The way that a code can be used to create new apps and programs is totally exciting. I also went to former Daimler AG for my school work experience internship. The insight into the company was impressive, and I think the combination of theory and practice is great. That's why I decided to apply for a dual study program.
How was the start for you?
Khiem-Jan: That was really intense. There were so many new things and we first had to get to know everything and understand how the dual study program works. It is so good that we have a mentor program here. All "Freshmen", students in their first semester, have two fellow students from higher semesters who we can always turn to, if we have questions and who also give a lot of good tips for studying.
Emmelie: Yes, that's really helpful. And, of course, we have our student advisors, who we can contact for any questions we may have about our studies. Our induction week was also great. In our semester, we are 13 Computer Science students working at Mercedes-Benz and ten of them are majoring in automotive. That's how we got to know each other right from the beginning of our studies.
How is the dual study program structured?
Khiem-Jan: At the beginning, we were at the training center in Esslingen-Brühl. We first learned the basics that are important for our studies, for example programming languages such as C, C++, and also the basics of app development. We started from scratch, so we were all on the same level. Our studies also include many technical topics such as automotive electronics and circuitry. Today, we always alternate between three months of theory at the campus of the Dual University in Stuttgart and three months for our practical phases at the company.
Emmelie: What I think is great about the dual degree program at Mercedes-Benz is that we can choose the projects for our four practical assignments ourselves. Many of the group's departments offer projects for dual students. Either our study advisor forwards us offers, or we can also actively search for departments we are interested in. I have already secured my next practical phase, which involves a project on autonomous driving. I am already really excited.
What advice do you have for those who are considering a dual study Bachelor’s degree program at Mercedes-Benz?
Emmelie: Just apply. In the dual study program, you get the opportunity to combine theory and practice directly and gain authentic insights into the working environment right from the start. And dual degree students get a lot of support here. I think it's cool to work on projects during my studies, that actually get used and don't gather dust on a shelf somewhere. If "learning by doing" is easier for you than just theory, then a dual degree program is exactly the right thing for you.
Khiem-Jan: That's exactly right. During our studies, we learn what really matters later in our careers and can get to know a wide range of different departments - from vehicle development to production.
One last personal question: In which movie or series would you like to play a part?
Emmelie: I could see myself in the series "Emily in Paris". Emily is from the US and supposed to work for a company in France, even though she doesn't speak French at all. Although she faces a lot of challenges, she doesn't let them get her down. I think just the fact that she keeps going on, despite everything that happens to her, fits well with the way I am. Nevertheless, as it is also portrayed in the series, the fun should never be forgotten either.
Khiem-Jan: And I would like to be Spider Man (laughs). I always thought it was brilliant how he swings between skyscrapers fighting the evil. What fascinates me most is the philosophy behind it: With great power comes great responsibility. This is a fact that is also becoming increasingly important in computer science. We have a responsibility to shape our future and drive digital transformation, for example, when it comes to the further development of artificial intelligence.
In person: Emmelie Beitlich (19) got her passion for cars from her father. Even as a teenager, she enjoyed taking trips together with her dad to see the latest Mercedes-Benz models at the dealership. Today, Emmelie not only dedicates her energy to her dual study Bachelor’s degree in computer science, but also in her passion for sports. With her team (TSV Wolfschlugen), the enthusiastic handball player plays at the professional level in the 3rd league. When 300 fans in the hall cheer on her team and she can score a lot of goals, that's simply the greatest thing for Emmelie.
In person: The Mercedes-Benz brand has accompanied Khiem-Jan Nguyen (19) since his childhood. His big brother is an enthusiastic Mercedes-Benz driver and always looked after his C-Class W 203 like a treasure. When Khiem-Jan isn't working on the future of mobility during his dual study Bachelor’s degree in computer science at Mercedes-Benz, he's perfecting his pizza baking skills or enjoys spending time playing video games with his friends. The fact that his choice, when playing Mario Kart, is always a Mercedes 300 SL or GLA is a matter of honor, of course.