Future Materials Engineers

(Photo by Duane Zehr)

By Matt Hawkins
July 29, 2014

Thirty high school students made figurines out of molten tin, tested metal’s flexibility and toured local metalworking facilities during the annual ASM Materials Camp.

The weeklong camp gives students real-world experiences and a better understanding of materials used in everything from industrial tractors to children’s toys. Bradley’s Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering and Technology department organizes the camp with help from the Peoria Chapter of the American Society of Materials.

The 10th-year camp teaches students about the properties and uses of metals, plastics and bio-materials. Presentations and projects at the end of the camp also help build teens’ presentation and teamwork skills.

“We hope we get students thinking about the world of material engineering and ignite a spark that grows into a bigger interest in the future,” said camp chair Marv McKimpson. “Students may have an idea what engineering involves, but they may not have an idea what material engineering involves.”

This year’s participants toured Caterpillar’s Mossville facilities, Peoria’s U.S. Department of Agriculture lab and a local blacksmith shop. They also watched the metal casting process at Bradley’s Heuser Art Center.

In the classroom, students examined the way metals — and even chocolate bars — cracked. Additionally, they explored the Titanic’s sinking from an engineering perspective and learned how different conditions and loads affected different types of metal.

Students were using the week to consider how materials engineering could fit into their long-term career goals. The exploration opened the eyes of Dunlap junior Aushi Kumar, who was thinking about a medical career.

“I know the medical world is using a lot of machines, but this could direct me toward engineering if I don’t go to be a doctor,” she said.

Peoria Heights senior Logan Monast was open to engineering as a complementary academic option to his computer science hopes.

“I enjoy experimenting with new things. I like the technology side with things like computers, but I wanted to get a feel for engineering,” he said.