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When Campuses Are Suddenly “Closed for Business”

Pam Lechner

What happens when without warning, the college campus is closed…you can no longer attend classes in person and the foundry lab, where you love to spend your time, is off limits.

As we all know, that’s exactly what happened in mid-March. All FEF colleges and universities went from a beehive of campus activity to “closed for business” and online learning. This unprecedented development led to several opportunities and changes for FEF students.

With foundry activity curtailed, Pittsburg State (Pittsburg, Kansas), put their supply of N95 respirator masks to good use. They donated nearly 500 to the local hospital. The University of Northern Iowa fired up its 3D printer and printed facemasks. This personal protective gear was then distributed to healthcare workers across Iowa.

In addition to FEF schools helping out their communities, they also modified the events usually held during the spring semester. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Plattevill’s scholarship ceremony.
One of the highlights for FEF students is finding out if they were chosen to receive one of the professor scholarships provided by industry donations to FEF. Sometimes these scholarships are presented during AFS Chapter Meetings, but with large gatherings prohibited, how can the student receive the recognition that comes with earning a scholarship? That’s where technology comes in to play.

In late April, University of Wisconsin-Platteville FEF Key Professor, Kyle Metzloff, scheduled an electronic version of their spring scholarship presentation. He invited the students from his program, parents of those students, alumni, industrial advisory committee members, and fellow professors. Twenty students were selected to receive scholarships; most were graduating seniors, while others will be continuing their education at UWP in the fall. All of the students expressed gratitude for the scholarships and excitement for what the future holds.

“Normal” life may have changed over the past several months, but FEF students took the opportunity to engage…with community…with industry…with professors…with each other. The learning process didn’t stop – it was modified.