Madison R. Pixler – 2021 Steel Intern Scholar
Less than a week after completing my sophomore year of college, I started as a quality intern with EVRAZ Pueblo. This was the first experience that really showed me how I will be able to apply my chemical engineering degree within the industry. EVRAZ is very focused on the quality and safety of the steel that they produce. I was introduced to the steel mill by sitting in pulpits and absorbing information from experienced operators. Watching the electric arc furnace charge and listening to the ladle refining furnace operators talk about how they adjust chemistries in real-time were critical steps in helping me get more comfortable with the scale at which the shop operates. Though, most of the time I spent throughout the summer was focused on the analysis related to the caster.
Within my internship, I had the opportunity to research two different quality projects that focused on issues that were affecting the rails. I had just completed a statistical analysis course, so it was invaluable to be able to transfer those skills directly into two important steel-making projects. Throughout the projects, I used both Minitab and Microsoft Excel to examine large sets of data. The goal of the projects was to find process variables that affected the total number of defects in the steel. Critically thinking about how to visualize the sets of data points was an important step in the research process. I was also able to work with Ph.D. metallurgists and six sigma black belts, gaining their advice on the significance of variables and starting to apply my findings to potential changes within the process. I was also very thankful for the opportunity to present my findings to the leadership team at EVRAZ. Not only was I able to gain new data analysis skills, but I was also able to gain important practice in professional communication.
Toward the end of my internship, I spent some time in the chemistry laboratory. I was able to help in the installation and training of the new X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer. It was exciting to be able to get the hands-on experience of preparing the standards for the XRF. I had used spectrometers in the past, but the scale and applications of this machine put the others to shame. Learning about how the XRF operates and the ways that it will be applied in terms of slag analysis was extremely interesting.
I am thankful for my time at EVRAZ Pueblo. Apart from contributing to two research projects, I also had the chance to learn new skills such as laboratory practices and implementations of Minitab. The quality control team have been wonderful mentors that truly helped me get the most out of this internship experience.