WIESBADEN, Germany – Graduate students from the University of Mainz presented defense-related MBA projects to U.S. military organizations during a presentation at Ramstein Air Force Base, June 21.
The projects represented real-world challenges that the students worked on behalf of the U.S. military as part of the MBA curriculum at the University of Mainz’ School of Applied Sciences.
Academia and industry coming together, in concert, to offer student-developed real-world solutions to complex industrial problems is not a novel concept.
The University of Mainz has often worked hand in hand with German companies on numerous occasions.
However, it is relatively recently that the university has partnered with elements of the U.S. military in Europe to bring real-world problem sets for students in the University of Applied Sciences MBA program to analyze and solve.
“We have established a strong working relationship between the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force and the University of Mainz,” said the U.S. Air Force’s 435th Construction and Training Squadron Resource Chief Frank Duenkelberg.
For the third and fourth semester students, this project is their last hurdle before starting their master’s thesis and earning their diploma.
This is the third time that the School of Applied Sciences at the University of Mainz and the U.S. Army and Air Force have brought graduate students and military challenges together for the students to solve while earning college credit and valuable complex problem-solving experience.
“We really hope there will be a fourth time,” said University of Applied Sciences Professor Dr. Britta Rathje.
Collaboration between academia and the U.S. military in Europe brings solutions to key Army and Air Force challenges while providing practical experience to the Mainz graduate students.
Each group was given a specific problem set requiring analysis, research and group work before presenting their findings and recommendations to U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden and 435th Construction and Training Squadron personnel.
The MBA students received their projects during a visit to USAG Wiesbaden, where the students were briefed about the specific challenges their groups would tackle before presenting their findings and recommendations at the 435th CTS facility on Ramstein AFB.
The ultimate goal of the program is to bridge the gap between academia and the real-world to create solutions for challenges such as military recruitment, performance, compensation and program management, while providing valuable practical experience to the Mainz University students.
Critical to their success was relying on what they had learned – throughout the course of the masters and business studies – and putting that knowledge into practice to find workable solutions to Army and Air Force problems, explained University of Applied Sciences Professor Dr. Sven Fischbach.
“[It is very exciting to see the] students embrace real world challenges, our challenges, and provide valuable advice from their perspective,” U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Directorate of Human Resources Workforce Development employee Thomas Schulze.
Schulze provided support and advised the group focused on the USAG Wiesbaden tradesman wages and compensation problem set.
Wage and compensation results
The student work groups, as part of their analysis, studied German companies to create a benchmark allowing them to contrast those wages and compensation offered to members of the U.S. Army’s local national trade and craftsman garrison workforce.
Important to the research and analysis, the student groups conducted surveys and interviews to gather information from the current local national workforce to determine factors that led the employees to decide to seek employment with the U.S. military.
Factors that were central to their decision included time off, potential earnings, available childcare, transportation to and from work, and work life balance.
Throughout the course of their analysis, it was determined that the most desired benefit offered to local nationals who are employed as members of the U.S. military workforce was increased holiday time off.
Local nationals, who are part of the military workforce, receive paid time off for all federal German holidays as part of the hiring collective agreement entered into between the U.S. military and Germany.
However, in addition, they also receive paid time off for all federal U.S. holidays, which their counterpart members of the German workforce do not receive.
This was a key benefit that made working for the U.S. military an attractive option.
Whereas receiving paid time off for all American holidays, as well as German holidays, was seen as a positive aspect about working for the U.S., the lack of some benefits such as childcare and fewer transportation options were considered as less favorable aspects about working for the U.S. military.
For example, on many military installations, childcare is offered to Soldiers and their families and to members of the U.S. civilian workforce, but it is not available to the local national workforce.
Often, German employers will offer job tickets, or passes for public transportation, which allow employees to use public conveyances such as bus and trains to travel to and from work. This benefit is, also, not part of the compensation package offered to the U.S. military workforce.
However, each group concluded that – overall – the wages and compensation offered by the U.S. military were comparable to what is provided to local nationals who work in the German sector.
The students, while analyzing the collected data, came to a surprising conclusion – many of those interviewed were unaware that the U.S. Army routinely seeks to hire local nationals from the Wiesbaden area.
“Often, those interviewed were not aware the U.S. military has a presence in Wiesbaden, despite living so close to a major U.S. Army post with its own operational airfield,” said MBA student Benedict Ring who is in his third semester MBA student at the University of Mainz.
Ring, who is employed in the finance industry, and many of his MBA peers now understand that the U.S. military in Europe can be a potential hiring option for those local nationals seeking employment.
“Many [did not] see the U.S. Army as a potential employment option,” he added.
The students were all commended for the work and efforts leading up to and during their presentations.
“[This is a] totally different world to them (…) the challenge is to come into this world and understand the issues, and [the students] have to manage it and make their recommendations,” said Fischbach.
“They did a great job,” added Rahtje.
Next up for the students?
The graduate students will take the feedback received from their instructors and prepare for the next step – possible implementation of their recommendations – their theses and, for some, graduation.
“I really want to express my gratitude to the students and their professors for their collaboration with the U.S. [armed] forces,” said Schulze.
After their presentations, the group was given a tour of Ramstein Air Force base hosted by the 86th Airlift Wing and which included a walk-through of a C-17 Globemaster III from Charleston AFB, S.C.
If you or someone you know is a local national who is interested in working for the U.S. Army in Germany, or other locations in Europe or the Far East Region visit the Muli National Recruitment System portal: https://stageportal.chra.army.mil/mnrs?id=m2_landing for information on available employment opportunities.
The MNRS portal allows local national applicants to view and apply online for Civilian Human Resources Agency positions in Europe and the Far East Region.
Interested local nationals can search MNRS for employment opportunities, review requirements, position locations and other information. Potential applicants can create a profile that will allow them to apply for multiple openings quickly and easily.
For additional information: https://www.dvidshub.net/news/442624/garrison-wiesbaden-local-university-partnership-offers-students-opportunity-experience