University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: Teaching the Next Generation

Pam Lechner

Since 1980, The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Continuing Education has held its College for Kids & Teens program, offering summer courses to K-12 students on many subjects. 

According to Chris Beimborn, UW-Milwaukee EnQuest Coordinator and STEM Outreach Manager-College of Engineering and Applied Science, “In 2016, the UWM College of Engineering & Applied Science took on the delivery of the ‘Engineering Wonders’ courses to bring these pre-college students hands-on experience in research and teaching labs and interaction with college student and faculty role models.” 

“I participated because it is important to teach young women that they can work and, indeed, excel in fields historically dominated by males,” said former student Hannah Ullberg. “I enjoyed watching the students become engaged and enthusiastic about engineering by creating castings and memories within the time they were in the foundry.” 

Ullberg graduated from UWM with a major in Materials Science and Engineering and is currently employed at GE Aviation as a CMC mechanical component design engineer.

“I took part in this program when I was a little kid,” said graduate student Swaroop Behera. “It introduces younger students to  metalcasting in a fun and creative way. It allows them to become aware of foundry engineering as an option before they get to college and improves the chances of them taking materials science/foundry engineering as a major. And there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the spark ignite in kids.”

College for Kids is also important for the college students. It allows them to share their interests with younger kids and helps them grow as individuals through the avenue of teaching. It gives them the opportunity to pass on their excitement for the industry and demonstrate the importance of castings.

In addition to the College for Kids program, UWM students have had the opportunity to make a presentation to a science teacher at an area high school. This high school has a small tin melting pot that they have used in the past for experiments, and the school has shown interest in incorporating tin melting into their curriculum. The next step is to provide them with a Foundry in a Box.

Students attending FEF colleges and universities across the country are great ambassadors for metalcasting. They are all excited about the industry, how they fit into the industry, and sharing their experiences and expertise with the community. And that’s good news for the metalcasting industry … the current generation is hard at work influencing the next generation.