Mines students show materials knowledge, bladesmithing skills

Colorado School of Mines students demonstrated both their materials expertise and practical skills at TMS 2017, taking second place in the Materials Bowl and finishing third in the Bladesmithing Competition during the annual meeting of The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, held February 26 to March 2, 2017, in San Diego, California.

Undergraduate students Jordan Carson and Rachel English and PhD candidates Andrea Bollinger and Brian Kagay competed in the Materials Bowl, a materials-themed knowledge and trivia competition. Mines won the contest in 2015, and also took first place in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

For the Bladesmithing Competition, a group of undergraduate and graduate students forged and crafted a straight razor with a Damascus pattern, with some material coming from Clear Creek in Golden.

“The rubric stated that the blade should be of historical significance,” said undergraduate student Stuart Shirley, himself a blacksmith and one of the team leaders. “Our team decided to make a straight razor—this is a knife blade that has played an essential role in daily life,” he explained. While not a weapon, soldiers and officers often carried it into the battlefield to bring a sense of normalcy, he said. The straight razor also transcended economic status, and is now making a comeback for those looking for the best shave.

Shirley and fellow undergraduate student Michelle Hoffman learned techniques from Denver knife maker Owen Wood and put them to use in blacksmith Dan McNeil’s Golden shop. They also conducted several thermite burns to create hunks of iron, with the original ore coming from the iron-rich sand in Clear Creek. “A piece of the smelted iron was used as the handle spacer, a critical component that allows the blade to open and close properly,” Shirley said.

Also helping to forge the blade and make the steel were undergraduates Marshall Boyton, John Copley and Chanise Hoffman and graduate students Alexandra Anderson, Tom Boundy, Brett Carlson and Hunter Sceats.

Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu
Megan Hanson, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science and Engineering | 303-384-2358 | mhanson@mines.edu

About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future.