Nicolas R. Manfred – 2021 Steel Intern Scholar
This past summer, I was awarded the satisfying opportunity to work in the Research and Innovation Center at Cleveland-Cliffs in Middletown, Ohio. This experience was unlike any I have underwent before, and I learned an enormous amount about steel and manufacturing. In my capacity as a Research Intern, I was afforded the opportunity to work with highly-intelligent experts and to take the reins on areas of active research in the steel industry. During this time I made lasting connections with the researchers, engineers and technicians in my facility.
My project over the course of the 10 weeks I spent with Cleveland-Cliffs was to study the effect of copper when alloyed into advanced high strength steels, and to corroborate prior research into its influence on hydrogen-induced cracking. The work was important to understand and mitigate cracking and corrosion due to hydrogen absorption, for automotive applications. I was tasked with planning and conducting the experiment, writing laboratory procedures, collecting and analyzing microstructural and compositional data, and performing various tests and manufacturing processes.
An epiphany I had while working at the Research and Innovation Center came when I proposed a change to the manufacturing process for our experimental samples. My mentor advised that the modification would not be feasible, not because the laboratory lacked capability, but because of manufacturing design criteria at our steel mills, which require continuous process capability. That is when I realized the larger scope of our work, and the impact of what real engineers do. It was eye opening to see that our actions had real-world implications.
Overall, I learned a lot about the steel industry during my time at Cleveland-Cliffs. Because of this, I have an enhanced appreciation for the men and women that work to manufacture steel for the U.S., and many other countries around the world. It gives me comfort to know I will one day join such a knowledgeable community.