By Keith Gushard
“It’s great — we’re learning why we use certain materials for certain applications,” Bryce Mullen said at a tour of Meadville-based industrial furnace maker SECO/Warwick on Wednesday.
Mullen of Meadville is one of 10 high students from Crawford and Erie counties interested in a science or engineering career who took part in a free two-day program by the northwest Pennsylvania chapter of ASM International.
On Tuesday, students conducted classroom experiments with different materials at Allegheny College in Meadville and toured and did experiments at Channellock Inc., the Meadville-based maker of hand tools. On Wednesday, the students did case studies and presentations in addition to taking a tour of SECO/Warwick.
“It’s a great hands-on experience and it builds on RoboBOTS,” Mullen said, referring to the region’s high school robot building competition sponsored by the northwest Pennsylvania chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association. Mullen, who will be a junior at Meadville Area Senior High School this fall, also participates in RoboBOTS.
Trying to get high school students to see the connection between manufacturing and engineering is what the ASM Materials Camps are all about, according to Paul Huber, a member of the local ASM chapter, and retired president of SECO/Warwick.
“In the last 15 years, we’ve seen a (national) decline in enrollment in the fields of materials, science and engineering,” Huber said. “It’s important to society to have these skills here and it doesn’t bode well for manufacturing (if the decline would continue).”
Students apply for the free camp through their respective high schools and applications are reviewed by members of the local ASM chapter, Huber said.
The cost of the two-day free camp is borne by Allegheny College, the ASM Education Foundation, and the northwest Pennsylvania Chapter of ASM.
“We’ve done it for about five years,” Huber said. “First with Edinboro University, and for the last two years with Allegheny.”
At SECO/Warwick on Wednesday, students were able to see a variety of furnaces — used to treat everything from making parts for nuclear-related industries to aerospace manufacturers to ice cube makers.
“Hopefully, this will get them motivated to a career in science and engineering,” said Eric Schreiber of SECO/Warwick, who heads the thermal processing group at the company.
SECO/Warwick’s furnaces are used all over the world by a wide variety of industries, according Schreiber.
“The average size of the furnace we make is the size of a house,” Schreiber explained to the students, noting each furnace is custom built to the customer’s specifications. Some furnaces can be longer than a football field or more than three stories high.
The average time to design and build a furnace is 40 weeks, but projects can last longer, depending on specifications and size, he said.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.