Colorado School of Mines students in the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering’s Forging & Forming class visited Finkl Steel this spring for the 16th time in the past 17 years, in what has become an annual highlight and a rite of passage for metallurgy students.
Over those 17 years, Finkl has moved locations from downtown Chicago to the South Side, and the class instructor has changed, but the enthusiasm undergraduate and graduate students have for witnessing the making, shaping and heat treating of massive steel forgings has not diminished.
The full-day visit, known as the Finkle Forging Forum, and led by Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Assistant Professor Kester Clarke, consisted of in-class instruction led by experts in each individual process and coordinated with tours on the shop floor. The instruction and tours took students through the entire manufacturing process on-site, including scrap recycling, steelmaking, vacuum degassing, casting, open die forging, heat treating, machining and nondestructive inspection of final products, allowing the group to learn about each process and then immediately see the process in action.
Students who have participated on the tour over the years have invariably expressed their enthusiasm, and this year was no different. Senior Christopher Finfrock noted that “seeing the forging process performed at such a large scale illuminated the importance of understanding the science and techniques of forging and forming. The trip was a captivating culmination of my learning in MME.” Senior Austin Miller added, “I did really enjoy seeing the industry side in action and on such a large scale compared to what we've done in classes,” which reinforces the use of real-world examples to better put classroom and small-scale laboratory work into a wider context.
"Finkl is proud to partner with the FIA and Colorado School of Mines in order to bring the manufacturing experience to the university curriculum," said Elizabeth Bilitz, technical product manager with Finkl. "It is refreshing to watch the students’ expressions as they witness melting, forging and heat treating of steel on a large scale, usually for the first time. As the 20th year of this Forum draws closer, we look forward to working closely with Prof. Kester Clarke, a former Mines Finkl Forum participant himself."
[Photos courtesy of Rebecca Reeve.]