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Student Casting Competitions Provide Learning Experiences

Pam Lechner

For the past two years, one of the events at the AFS Wisconsin Regional is a casting competition for college and university students. 

In 2020, teams participated from seven universities, including University of Wisconsin-Madison. Individuals making up the Madison team were: Cadell Van Den Heuvel, Max Wessel, Callie Mataczynski, Margaret Rivest, and River Carson. The casting project that the team chose was a cast iron anvil. 

When asked why these students chose to participate, Van Den Heuvel said “because I wanted to help be a part of the revival of Wisconsin’s foundry (program). Additionally, having a repeatable anvil pattern will be helpful in both providing anvils for our local AFS forge nights, as well as for selling to help provide funding for future AFS projects and activities.” 

“I knew I would learn a lot and even though I didn’t know much about casting, just putting myself out there helped me more than I ever thought,” said Wessel. “I think that every engineering student needs an experience like this; it really gave me a sense of what my passions are as an engineer.”

There are several hoped-for outcomes for participating in a project like this, not the least of which is learning. 

“I learned about…methods you might use to prevent things such as shrinkage or the mold not filling properly. I learned how to be part of a team too; when the time came and it seemed like there wouldn’t be enough time to get the project done, we buckled down and made it happen all in one go,” Wessel said. 

Van Den Heuvel’s biggest takeaway was on the organizational side of things.

“It’s clear to me how much has to be prepared before you can make a mold, let alone pour it,” he said. “However, I think those challenges have better prepared me for taking over casting related projects, at any stage of development, in the future.”

As for the results, the project overall was a success. 

“Although we didn’t win any awards at the competition, the anvil turned out really nice and only took one try to cast,” Wessel said. “We all learned a lot from the process, and it was really satisfying to see a project go to completion.”

FEF thanks the AFS Wisconsin Chapter, as well as other chapters, who provide experiences for FEF students through casting competitions, and we look forward to the castings produced for the numerous 2021 events.