‹ Back to Columns

Fostering a Love for Foundries and Lifelong Careers

Pam Lechner

What do Chris Burroughs, Liz Medina Balliet and Derek Orlikowski all have in common? Same alma mater? No—Burroughs attended Missouri University of Science & Tech (formerly Missouri Rolla), Medina-Balliet—Tec Saltillo, and Orlikowski—Wisconsin Platteville. Same majors? No—Medina-Balliet graduated with a materials science and engineering major, Orlikowski with an industrial technology management major, and Burroughs with a metallurgical engineering major. And their entry positions at their current employer were all different: quality assurance engineer, manager of technical services, and production supervisor.

The common thread is FEF. These three individuals were all involved in the metalcasting program at an FEF school, and they all work for Neenah.
Burroughs has been with Neenah for 28 years and is currently a metallurgist/austemper manager; Medina-Balliet has been with Neenah for seven years and is currently senior manager-advanced data science, and Orlikowski has been with Neenah for one year and is currently quality assurance engineer.

The path they each took to metalcasting is also different. For Burroughs: “My father was an engineer in a steel mill. I always showed great interest in the metals industry. It was a perfect combination of my favorite subjects in school (chemistry, physics, math).”

For Medina-Balliet: “Foundry Days at Saltillo Tech and my professors were huge factors in me switching paths; I originally intended to go into the biomaterials field.” For Orlikowski, it was getting involved with the AFS Student Chapter at Wisconsin Platteville.

When speaking with these individuals, it is easy to see what they do have in common—they love the foundry. 

“Before college, I had no idea that I would end up working in a foundry,” Orlikowksi said. “Now, I don’t know if I could see myself working anywhere else.” 

Medina-Balliet added, “I chose the foundry industry as a place to build a career; when it comes to the job itself, there is nothing that I do not like about metalcasting.”

Burroughs shared this thought: “FEF (College Industry Conference) presented an opportunity for me to be exposed to the foundry industry. I continue to be impressed with the knowledge that is shared through FEF, AFS and the foundry industry. It is important that the younger foundry professionals continue this practice and respect the experience that exists in our industry.”

For nearly 75 years, FEF has been a part of the foundry industry. Its mission has been and always will be to influence young people to enter this industry. Burroughs, Medina-Balliet and Orlikowski are prime examples of college students “won” for metalcasting. AFS has been a great partner in FEF’s mission as have many companies and individuals who see the benefit and the importance of continuing to inform, educate, and influence the next generation.

If your company is looking for its next metalcasting lifer to fill an open position, contact FEF or watch your mailbox for information on the College Industry Conference to be held November 18-19 in Chicago.   

Click here to view the article in the July 2021 digital edition of Modern Casting.