American Foundry Society prepares students for careers

October 19, 2005

2005_10_19c.jpgPLATTEVILLE - Being a student involves many things - classes, talking with professors and working on group projects - but two things that should not wait until after graduation are learning to network and learning about today's industry. That's what the University of Wisconsin-Platteville chapter of the American Foundry Society (AFS) believes. Members and non-members benefit from listening to speakers and learning about internships, co-ops and jobs at monthly meetings, and members experience the unique opportunity of visiting foundries and the WI Chapter of AFS.

The university's AFS website describes itself as a club that "Fosters academic and professional growth in students preparing for careers in metal casting/metallurgy." Although many members of AFS come from the Industrial Studies Department, the club welcomes all students from all majors.

Currently, there are about 30 members and 10 non-members. It is free to participate the first year, with $15 renewals afterward. With membership, students receive the magazine called "Modern Casting." Meetings are usually held the second Wednesday of the month at 4:30 p.m. in Room 5 of Russell Hall.

Every monthly meeting has one or two speakers, who either work in or deal with the foundry industry. One was Carl Loper Jr., an internationally known expert in foundry science and metal casting that holds nine patents, was named "distinguished key scholar" by the Foundry Education Foundation and is the author of several books. Other speakers have included Vinnie Markowski from Metals Technologies, Brian Johnson from Grede Foundry and Dave Murrow from Kohler Company. Sometimes speakers accept resumes from students and offer internships or co-ops.

At the end of each meeting, explained Greg Gauerke, president of the UWP chapter of AFS, "We normally pour some type of metal - usually grey iron, ductile iron, or aluminum ... [All students can] cast their own casting using either one of the patterns we provide or something they bring in on their own."

In addition to learning from speakers, members get to visit foundries, such as the Neenah Foundry in Neenah, U.S. Steel in Gary, Ind., the Falk Corporation in Milwaukee, and the Caterpillar Mapleton Foundry in Mapleton, Ill. These trips allow students the opportunity to see what's happening in the industry today - a chance that is unusual once a student graduates and gets a job in the industry. Companies rarely open their doors for their competition; however, they do welcome students. Therefore, as students, members of AFS get a unique education.

Gauerke said the trips give students "exposure to as many different processes in industry as possible. They have [also] proven to be a great source of employment for students. Many companies in the metals fields are hiring and often encourage us to bring resumes to the tour."

The trip to the Milwaukee Tool Expo and the Falk Corporation Foundry allows students to "see everything and more of what Kyle [Metzloff, professor of industrial studies] teaches us in class," said Gauerke.

Members may also attend a WI Chapter meeting, a professional chapter of AFS, which includes CEOs and other employees from the industry. These meetings always have two speakers, such as employees from Wisconsin Public Service, who discuss how foundries can reduce power waste, and the CEO of the Waupaca Foundry. Gauerke said that going to these meetings is a great way to get to know the operations of the industry and meet contacts. He said, "[The UWP chapter has] a pretty good reputation there. We have a good program. They hire a lot of people from here."

Anyone interested in learning more about the club may call Gauerke at (920) 213-4550, e-mail him at gauerkeg@uwplatt.edu or visit the AFS website at http://www.uwplatt.edu/org/afs/.

Contact: Greg Gauerke, president, American Foundry Society, (920) 213-4550, gauerkeg@uwplatt.edu

Prepared by: Kate McKinney, UWP Public Relations, (608) 342-1194, mckinnka@uwplatt.edu

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