Internship Field: Computer Science, Software Development, Car Industry
Major: Computer Science
Host: Continental Automotive GmbH, formerly Siemens VDO Automotive AG
Duration: April — July 2004
Description: My main project was developing a complete test package for a prototype automotive display. I programmed in C++ and wrote both the embedded software for tester hardware and a PC application to drive the product. My application allowed the user to control and observe the traffic over a designated CAN Graphical bus. I developed my software concurrently with the display development and was responsible for the software verification of the display. I participated in the entire development length of this prototype. It was very interesting to be able to see the entire process as opposed to a small part of a larger project.
I also spent a month developing another test tool in the POOL programming language on the AIDA development platform. This tool simulated all the discrete signal inputs to an automotive display (speed, engine speed, temperature, tank content etc.) and allowed simultaneous verification of the test results over a CAN bus. In addition to working on the discrete signal control, I developed the Graphical User Interface along with a tester scripting language. This tool automates tests with high accuracy which previously required a human to do.
Comments: I was able to improve my computer science skills immensely by doing relatively long projects for a practical aim. Most projects done in undergraduate CS study are relatively short and not necessarily practical and having this professional experience will be very valuable to me for finding a job or for graduate school applications.
The most personally rewarding part was not related to the work itself but in living with Germans. I have traveled a lot through Europe previously, but it is impossible to understand a culture without living with the people. While it was at times difficult being out of touch with the US and native English speakers, those in turn gave the most rewarding aspects.
If you are living in Regensburg, try to make it to all the fests in the old town and make sure to visit Spitalgarten (a Biergarten by the Steinerebrücke next to the Danube). Definitely buy a bike — the bus system isn't that great and there isn't a U- or S-Bahn. The bike paths along both the Regen and Danube rivers are a good chance to explore the areas nearby. It's worth it to go to Munich, even for just the day, to see an FC Bayern soccer game. If you feel the need for something to remind you of home, Regensburg has one of the largest baseball stadiums in Germany (about 2000 seats) and there are games most weekends.
German language skills: My German language skills have greatly improved over the course of my internship. I now am comfortable functioning completely in German. At the beginning of my time in Berlin, most Germans had better English than my German, but now I feel that it is the other way around.
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