WIESBADEN, Germany – Graduate students and future MBAs from the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz visited Clay Kaserne on April 5, as part of a joint program with U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden. The joint program allows the university students to gain real-world experience by working on U.S. military projects as part of their graduate degree programs.
U.S. military employees from the U.S. Army Europe and Africa Civilian Personnel Division, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Plans, Analysis and Integration Office, and United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa 435th Construction and Training Squadron showcased a variety of challenges the students would soon face.
The students listened intently as each unique project, representing a current challenge for the U.S. military in Germany, was discussed. The briefs highlighted the problems the students would be charged to solve in areas such as workforce hiring issues, planning capabilities, and performance evaluations and awards challenges.
“This is your chance to come up with something new that has not been established yet,” said USAFE 435th CTS Flight Resources Chief Frank Dünkelberg, when briefing his specific problem set.
After being briefed, the students were left alone to build teams by themselves and figure out who will work on which project.
As part of their projects, students will conduct on-site assessments and interviews as they create viable solutions that are capable of being implemented.
Benefits to all
U.S. military organizations receive valuable assistance from engaged graduate students yearning to learn and eager to solve problems using the techniques and processes they have learned throughout their years of study.
“What [the students] do is really hands-on consulting work,” said USAG Wiesbaden Directorate of Human Resources Chief Chris Pittman.
Projects that have been implemented in previous years have included a local national employee performance review pilot program, methods to communicate easier with German utilities to better facilitate bill paying and out-processing, and streamlining the vehicle registration process – results that were all put into practice.
“It is good to know that all past projects resulted in pilot projects on the U.S. side that were eventually implemented,” said University of Applied Sciences Professor Dr. Britta Rathje.
In addition to elective credit towards their advanced degrees, the Mainz students will also receive real world, problem-solving knowledge while working with the U.S military.
Understanding and grappling complex issues that require solutions is part of each student’s university curriculum, and is a key aspect to career success.
“This is the opportunity for the students to apply knowledge that they learned from various classes,” said University of Applied Sciences Professor Dr. Sven Fischbach.
Fischbach partners with German economic and public agencies, as well as the U.S. military -- giving his students opportunities to further their education and receive practical experience solving problems.
“Before graduating at the end of next semester and being released into the labor world, this is their chance to practice what they [have] learned,” he added.
Before their project briefings, the students received a tour of Clay Kaserne as an introduction to life on a U.S. military installation – a tour that was eye-opening to some.
Several of the Mainz University students were unaware that the U.S. military hires and employs local nationals as part of the installation’s workforce.
Local hires from communities around military installations are an integral part of the mission success and functionality of any installation, whether inside or outside the continental U.S.
“It is a cool opportunity to get to work with the U.S. forces as a possible employer and I was not aware that the U.S. Forces employ Local Nationals at all or that I could get on post even,” said MBA student Julius Kies.
“This shows that what the students work on really has an impact,” added Rathje.
Students will brief their project results to senior military leaders at Ramstein Air Force Base, June 21.