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Senior Projects Demonstrate Real-World Readiness

Pam Lechner

Graduation is just around the corner. Many hours have been spent listening to lectures, working on concepts and processes, as well as melting and pouring, and finishing course projects. It’s time to put all of that knowledge and experience into one more big, final project – the Senior Design Project.

Sarah Veres and Madison Voyda are University of Alabama students. Veres graduated in December 2023 with a BS in Metallurgical Engineering (minor in Manufacturing) and is currently working at UA in the Metallurgical and Materials Engineering department. Voyda is pursuing her master’s in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering––her undergrad work was completed in May 2023. 

Each of these students became interested in metalcasting after taking Dr. Charlie Monroe’s MTE316 course. According to Voyda, “Dr. Monroe made the course a valuable experience, allowing students to make investment cast models, create sand molds, and pour molten metal. It was through this experience that I developed a burning curiosity for metalcasting procedures and products.”

Voyda says her team “attempted to develop methods to ultimately improve the [investment] casting process and see how our chosen material, Inconel 718, would perform.”

Veres’s team chose a project “producing 4140 steel from existing master alloys and steel available that was poured under an innovative argon drip (degassed) that was compared to a secondary 4140 steel plate that was poured under atmospheric conditions.” 

For this project, Veres had to provide accurate charge calculations, test materials for their composition to be used in the melt, produce usable sand molds, and direct the foundry pour. 

“I chose this project as it was an opportunity to combine materials testing and foundry involvement for the Corrosion Lab,” she said. In addition to proving that her classes had prepared her for this project, she also learned “how an effective pour comes down to teamwork.”
Voyda agreed that the “skills learned in my casting class … prepared our team well for our project.” 

What did she learn during the project? “Learning not only the process of investment casting, but also understanding how the geometry of the mold or how the development of porosity can ultimately affect the finished product––this was a valuable part of the project experience.”
Of course, learning from a project is important, but enjoying the process is also valuable. According to Veres, her favorite part was “being able to actively help in the final pouring of the 4140 steel that I made from scratch, and seeing my work from an Excel sheet transfer to real life was so rewarding!”

Voyda enjoyed working with her fellow teammates to troubleshoot and problem-solve in order to create a solution and improve upon an existing product. 

“One of an engineer’s many responsibilities is helping others, and we believe that if our project was able to ameliorate a design through this process, we have done our jobs as the next generation of engineering professionals.”

Dr. Monroe commented, “Leveraging the information given in their MTE 316 class toward a Senior Final Project allows students to deeply root metalcasting as a preferred and practical manufacturing option.  These projects are a taste of the rich career in the industry and an opportunity to innovate for the products of the future.”

Veres and Voyda are just two examples of the impressive students produced by the FEF network of colleges and universities. If your company is looking to hire the “next generation of engineering professionals,” look no further than the FEF schools: fefinc.org/our-schools.