Bradley W. Hostetler – 2019 Steel Internship Scholar
This summer I had the opportunity to work as the melt shop metallurgy intern at Nucor Steel—Berkeley County. My experience with Nucor was more valuable in my development as a student, researcher and worker than I could have imagined. The reason I felt my summer was such a positive experience was due to the amount of responsibility I was given. I was working on projects for the betterment of the melt shop, not just tasks in order to alleviate the work schedule of the metallurgists in the department.
My work in the melt shop focused mainly on processes in the ladle metallurgy furnace (LMF). The first major project I worked on was a ladle sand investigation. I used the thermodynamic simulation software called FactSage in order to research if chemical differences between ladle sands used in the past and present at Berkeley County influenced their free-open behavior in the ladle. This project appealed to me because minimizing the rate of non-free opens results in safer and higher quality operation at the caster, plus I was able to significantly increase my competency in FactSage, a software I was introduced to at school and will continue using for the rest of my graduate work.
The next large project I worked on — which ended up taking about half of my summer — was an investigation on the calcium modification of inclusions. The major purpose of the investigation was to develop a foundation of the system SparkDAT in which optical emission spectroscopy is used to measure the inclusion distribution via determining the insoluble fraction of elements in the steel sample. This foundation was mainly understanding the effect different sampling and sample prep parameters had on the accuracy and precision of multiple SparkDAT burns on an individual steel sample. In order to determine the accuracy of SparkDAT results, I used the automated feature analysis program on an ASPEX Explorer SEM for each sample for a second measurement on the inclusion distribution.
I am immensely grateful for the time I spent at Nucor Steel—Berkeley County. Along with the professional development I received, another benefit gained from this summer is confirmation that I want a career in ferrous metallurgy, since this was my first work experience in the industry.