Ask a group of 5th graders what they want to be when they grow up, and you'll get a long list of answers: firefighter, detective, athlete, musician, astronaut. These (and other top kids' dream jobs) are certainly vital to our society, but as proud and forward-thinking manufacturers, we have to ask: Wouldn't you rather be a metal caster, or a machinist, or a Six Sigma coach?
Maybe the answer is "yes," but the issue is that not many kids have been asked this question. That's where programs like Foundry in a Box come in. Dedicated professionals in the manufacturing industry visit schools and introduce students to the basics of metalcasting, and manufacturing careers, through hands-on projects. Programs like this not only expand students' horizons, but they're also vital to the future of manufacturing in the United States.
Foundry in a Box is exactly what it sounds like: a portable kit containing everything needed to create sand-molded metal castings.
Every session begins with a bit of background, where industry professionals discuss sand casting terminology, processes, and careers in the foundry industry. Students are then involved in the hands-on process of creating sand molds, pouring molten tin into the molds, and cleaning the resulting castings.
Below, casting professionals and teachers bring Foundry in a Box to the Muskegon Christian Schools STEM Club, a group composed of 5th and 6th graders.
|Casting professionals from the Eagle Group lead students in preparing sand molds||Instructor pours molten tin into prepared sand molds||Student displays excellent examples of tin castings|
Throughout the process, workshop leaders explain the many variables that go into creating a perfect casting. Students get a chance to see certain defects firsthand, learning why they occur and what they could have changed in the processing of the mold and casting that would have improved the part's final quality. They also learn about finishing through hands-on interaction with cast products.
Foundry in a Box is an excellent supplement to the standard education curriculum, demonstrating important principles of science and math that are often only discussed theoretically. Most importantly, the workshop offers students a glimpse of the productive potential of metal casting, and the wide world of manufacturing.
Firefighters are tough and astronauts are cool, but manufacturing jobs are great, too.
Good wages, opportunities for advancement and high levels of job security are just the beginning. Manufacturing is also a very rewarding industry, offering opportunities to flex creative, logical and managerial muscles on a daily basis. It's also very much a part of the future, especially as high-tech manufacturing jobs are returning to the United States.
The goal of Foundry in a Box, and programs like it, is to introduce metal casting early on as a potential career. At the end of the workshop, students might not be ready to bump "rock star" off the list just yet, but at least metal casting is on the radar.
Written by AJ Menefee
AJ Menefee is VP of Technical & Engineering at Eagle Precision Cast Parts in Muskegon, MI.
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