The visit was a return trip in an exchange programme run by Darlington College and Berfuskolleg Technical College, in Mulheim, Darlington’s twin town.
Students were able to hone their CAD and 3D design skills in college as well as tour the Mercedes and Siemens plants.
The trip also offered opportunities for cultural enrichment as they attended the Rosenmontag Carnival, the second largest event after Rio, and visited local steel and coal mine museums and Koln Cathedral.
For Level 3 extended diploma in engineering student Helen Bolam, 19, of Barnard Castle, it was the first time she had visited Germany.
“The Mercedes factory was amazing, there were so many robots,” said Helen, who hopes to secure an apprenticeship in HGV maintenance.
Classmate Jonathan Leonard, 20, of Carlton Husthwaite, near York, added: “At the Siemens factory there was one crane that could lift 600 tonnes which loaded items straight on to barges on the river.”
Matty Martyni, 18, of Darlington, said: “Everyone was interested in us, was open and very friendly. They knew a lot about Darlington and even had a park named after the town.”
Curriculum manager for engineering and science Neil Bowen said the study trip had been funded by a grant from the Erasmus Programme, the European Union initiative for education, training, youth and sport.
He said: “The students were truly inspired by the trip. They all received a certificate of completion, which will enhance their CVs and they will produce a final report on the visit, as well as design posters covering the engineering and cultural aspects of their experience.”