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Final Year Trip to Munich

2 February, 2010 (03:06) | General

In a revival of a department tradition, this year’s final year students organised a class trip to see some world class structures in Munich, Germany. In a futile attempt to prove that we’re still young, three intrepid lecturers accompanied the class, of which I was one. Since I’m writing this, you know the ending: we survived! In an incredible show of restraint, the students resisted the urge to bury us in snow (it was -6 to -9 C), or otherwise leave us in Munich. Thanks!

Joking aside though, we visited three incredible structures/displays. The first was BMW Welt, which is a hugely architecture-driven structure with an amazing floating walkway through the space. BMW Welt is worth the visit just for the displays of automotive technology. Even though we’re not mechanical engineers, I think the basic engineering of complex systems still appealed to us.

BMW Welt

The main visit of the trip was to the Olympic Site of 1972 where Frei Otto‘s work still amazes. This is all the more so, because before computer models, there were…

Physical Model of Olympic Roof

physical models. The level of detail on this model is incredible – even down to little weights at particularly heavy connections. Of course the attention and detail put into this physical model should be replicated in any comparable computer model. However, we were told that the results of the computer model of the time arrived two years late and said that the structure wouldn’t work. Well it’s still there, so 1-0 to physical modelling!

Some inspired students!

The most amazing feature of this structure is the clarity with which you can observe the flow of forces around the structure:

Equilibrium creates its own form

The last visit was to the Deutsches Museum – one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to science and technology. In short: a nerd’s paradise. It was great! We spent an afternoon there and only had time to cherry pick the exhibits of most interest to us. Unfortunately the highway bridge section is being refurbished, but it’s on the list for a revisit when it’s finished.

That didn’t detract though: all of the basic physics of engineering was on display, most exhibits were interactive also – lots of great ideas for bringing some of the fundamental concepts to life. One of my favorite exhibits is a back-lit transparent wrench covered in photoelastic film – you try to turn the bolt and you can see the stresses change:

Photoelastic wrench

There are many other fascinating exhibits like this for any breed of engineer or scientist. Highly recommended, but take more time than we did!

Lastly, it’s probably my favorite museum for one further geeky point: instead of a clock tower it has a…

Barometer Tower


It was a great and sparkely trip: thanks to all involved, especially the Mammy and Daddy!




Comment from Mammy
Time: 2 February, 2010, 16:35

What happens in Munich stays in Munich!!!! Including everything said and SUNG!!!!

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