Lena Steffan is responsible for extrusion at the Nordhorn site. Her career at RKW in Nordhorn is based on her dual study program, which she completed as an engineer in plastics technology - including IHK training in process engineering.

Lena Steffan is the first dual student at the Nordhorn site, and the fact that she got there at all is something she has worked out for herself. In 2011, a year before her high school graduation, Lena applied to RKW and the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, "because I thought this combination of studies and practical relevance was great, and I still do. After an initial trial internship, she started in August 2012 after graduating from high school.

In a dual study program, students are employed by the training company and, similar to a Chamber of Industry and Commerce apprenticeship, have practical periods in the company and classes at the university. Since the plastics technology degree program also includes an apprenticeship and examination as a process mechanic, the standard study period for the bachelor's degree is four years. "Initially, I started with a full semester at the university, after which I spent three days at the plant and two days at the university per week," Lena explains. During her practical days, she could count on the full support of all her colleagues, and as a trainee she was fully integrated.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in 2016, Lena also completed a job-integrated Master's degree in technology analysis, engineering and management, and at the same time was active as an assistant to the production manager: "That was a great thing, in the Master's degree I was able to learn even more with regard to analytics, technology and management. At the same time, I was able to learn a lot in my job."

A good one-and-a-half-year assignment at RKW's Belgian site in Hoogstraten paid off for Lena, earning her first spurs and taking on the role of Manager Operational Excellence in Nordhorn; she successfully completed the part-time master's in 2019. Her commitment to RKW and willingness to continue learning alongside it continued to drive Lena forward most recently; in June 2021, she took up her position as Manager Extrusion in Nordhorn.

"The dual study program is an optimal form of training in which the close interaction between theory and practice is applied. By integrating it in a company, the scientific and analytical work from the studies can be directly deepened and applied. This has a high added value for both the students and the company to drive improvements. I can unreservedly recommend the dual study program," Lena sums up.