Levi R. Dickson – 2022 Steel Intern Scholar
Nucor Steel–Indiana in Crawfordsville, Ind., USA, was an amazing experience to start my metallurgical career. The Crawfordsville mill has shown me a great culture within the steel industry. Learning about the inner workings of a CSP mini mill truly made me utilize my knowledge the entire time I worked.
My position at Crawfordsville was in the hot mill, where I focused on high strength low alloys (HSLAs) and high alloy steels. I was assigned a wide variety of interesting projects that covered such areas as surface grain refinement to prevent hot shortness in HSLA steels, microstructural characterization, transformation and shape in high alloy steels, and mill performance improvement utilizing process audits. These projects gave me the chance to work with other metallurgists and production members to optimize my assigned production issues. Working with a wide range of topics and people strongly influenced my understanding what a metallurgist really is.
I had a few projects with HSLAs regarding their properties, use and the issues that arise when producing them in a CSP mill. The microalloying process of the HSLAs all played a different part in the strengthening and grain size of each coil. My main project working with niobium-grade HSLAs. My project was to investigate if we could refine the grade’s surface without lowing the mechanical properties below what we could sell. I was able to conduct my trials with production to decide which coils were going to have the refinement method and the resulting thermal practices. Doing my own trials and looking at my gathered data gave me real-life experience as a metallurgist in the industry.
My second main project was looking at edge wave with one of our high alloy steels. Another intern and I worked on the project together. We needed to understand where edge wave appears in the coil. We recognized a late phase transformation on the coiler which we suspected was driving shape differences throughout the coiled steel. Together, we took samples of the alloy to develop an experimentally fitted time temperature transformation plot filled with experimental cooling and thermodynamic data. We finished this trial by taking microstructures of the coils through width and at two different lengths to see how their different cooling rates played a part in how the microstructure formed. Finally, the two of us presented our findings on the phase transition’s effect and recommended future trials that should take place. My teamwork skills developed from a typical student to someone who can work aside other professionals and experts through this project.
Nucor’s culture made me feel welcome from day one. All my mentors and supervisors viewed me as an equal during my time at the mill. I was encouraged and challenged to talk to as many managers and supervisors to understand their part in the process. Every engineer, production teammate, and supervisor gave me the ability to succeed in my time at Nucor this summer. Safety is infused into every action within the mill, giving me an environment to learn about steel safely while also being responsible for the well-being of everyone I interacted with. I am proud of my time at Nucor Steel.