Learning for students and transformation engineers: the practical project at Hof University of Applied Sciences

For the second time, the Hof University of Applied Sciences offered a practical project in cooperation with partner companies in the winter semester 2023/24, which provided a unique opportunity for students to deal with highly relevant issues in the fields of digitalization and sustainability. This time, the practical project of the WARGITSCH Transformation Engineers acting as the "client" centered around the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) and was particularly exciting, and not just for the students.

The participating students from Hof University of Applied Sciences attended from the modules “Digital Infrastructure and Internet Technologies in Practice” from the Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and “Applied Research in Digitalization and IT Technologies” from the Master’s degree in Digital Business Management. They were not only supervised by the experienced lecturers Prof. Dr. Günter Hilmer, Prof. Dr. Christine Brautsch and Tina Wiegand, but also had dedicated coaches among the WARGITSCH Transformation Engineers.
Carsten Gundlach and Michael Urban supported the team, consisting of Denise Bohrisch and Sharareh Maleki (both Master Digital Business Management) as well as Susanne Ludwig and Benjamin Veits (both Bachelor Business Administration), with the task “Integration of current AI tools/processes in management consulting”. The project provided the students with practical insights into management consulting and also gave them the opportunity to deal with the forward-looking topic of AI and put their theoretical knowledge from their studies into practice.
Working together in a newly formed team was particularly challenging, as only two of the students knew each other beforehand. “Working together as a team and the task of managing an agile project together was a valuable learning experience for all of us,” commented Denise Bohrisch. Benjamin Veits recognizes further learnings: “The project showed us how important open communication and structured time management are in order to be successful together as a team.”
The students explored AI tools and created a comprehensive catalog that can be used as inspiration at WARGITSCH. The way these tools can be used in management consulting was an important insight for career orientation. Weekly jour fixes with the supervisors from WARGITSCH and weekly coaching sessions with the professors made it easier to work on the topic and gave the team a good insight into working methods in companies. Many of the tools that the students got to know while working on the project were previously unknown to them, and agile working and the distribution of tasks in a team were also an important practical exercise. Presentations of the results and the final project were also part of the requirements of the practical project and offered the students the opportunity to further develop their skills. A well-rounded and impressive experience for the student team, whose most interesting learning was summarized by Sharareh Maleki as follows: “A good mood can make all the difference!”

The cooperation with Hof University of Applied Sciences was also of great benefit to the WARGITSCH Transformation Engineers. In addition to an AI catalog, the collaboration with the students also resulted in an exciting expert interview with Prof. Dr. Peinl on the responsible use of AI, in other words digital ethics as well as research on some building blocks for a training module for employee training. This collaboration enabled the Transformation Engineers to look at AI from a new perspective and develop concrete recommendations for improving work processes with the help of AI. Another important aspect was the interpersonal level. “It was inspiring to work with such motivated and professional students and personally enriching to get to know four such likeable young people,” says Michael Urban, summarizing his experience of the collaboration.

The practical project at Hof University of Applied Sciences was therefore a win-win situation for everyone involved, about which the university has also reported. But even after the project, there are still opportunities for collaboration. This is perfectly illustrated by the success story of our Transformation Engineer Lukas, who is now involved in exciting projects and is following a steep learning curve.