Kevin Slezak - 2018 Steel Intern Scholar
My internship was with Signicast, an investment casting company with locations in Wisconsin and a recently acquired plant in Texas. Signicast makes products for aerospace, recreational vehicles, fluid technology, and many other industries desiring unique parts of varying design, size, material and application. Process engineer interns worked collaboratively with the process engineers and were each assigned a project that would be their primary focus over the summer.
Prior to starting our project work, we spent time at each station in our processing plants, working with the production workers and technicians who were experienced in those functions. We worked with the wax injection machines and sprue assemblies, then the dipping station where the ceramic coatings were created. Melting and finishing followed and through the entire time, I only needed a few bandages and packets of burn gel. It’s likely that my “help” during that time did little to boost production. However, the time was necessary to solidify an understanding of the process and would greatly aid in directing my projects over the future months.
My two projects were dedicated to improving processes. The first project involved utilizing software on the newest spectrometer, eventually to be used in advanced chemistry quality control for our numerous alloys. The second project explored possible ultrasonic applications to our processes. Instrument testing and data acquisition was the focus of the spectrometer project, while the ultrasonic project largely studied theories and emerging technologies. Both projects largely accomplished their initial goals, and if our company seeks to pursue those projects further, the research is ready to be utilized by another engineer.
Determining what was needed and what resources I had available to obtain that information was a challenge. These difficulties were eased as I become more familiar with the available equipment at Signicast and by interacting with the engineers and production workers.
The internship helped solidify my plans to work within the steel industry while simultaneously expanding my perception of job opportunities. My senior design project that concluded the month prior to starting this internship focused on investment casting, but I didn’t fully understand my knowledge gaps until I worked at Signicast. Similarly, the experience of working directly on the production lines and with the employees could not be replicated in a classroom environment.
I am very thankful to AIST for helping me with my education, and for Signicast and its employees for answering my questions and teaching me new skills. I plan on utilizing the resources provided by AIST in future job hunting and throughout the duration of my career.