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Latest News from VT-FIRE and the Kroehling Advanced Materials Foundry

  Investment Casting Institute features ICI member universities in their December 2014 edition of INCAST.  Virginia Tech is one of six member schools profiled, with a nice write-up on the metal casting program, as well as a page featuring MSE-VT senior specializing in metals and foundry engineering. Click HERE to read more.

  FOUNDRY Management & Technology Hall of Honor recognizes VT FIRE Director, Alan Druschitz. Dr. Druschitz is the latest metalcaster enrolled in the FM&T Hall of Honor. His career in research, manufacturing, design, and in education has been guided by practicality and inspired by insights and discoveries, and in that way his experience parallels the progress and transformation in the metalcasting industry over the past four decades. Read the full article HERE 

MSE Senior Design Teams Win Honors at AFS/FEF 2014 Student Technology Contest

Devon Baker, Warren Denning, and Gabriella Mirabelli won second place for "Effect of Chemical Composition and Heat Treatment on the Corrosion Resistance of Cast Nickel Alloy C276."  The team will receive a $1,200 FEF scholarship.  Daniel Diner, Bradley Walters, and Rafael Gil-Figueroa received an honorable mention for "Casting and Heat Treatment of Thick Advanced High Strength Steel."  Both teams are advised by Prof. Alan Druschitz and will have papers published in the winter 2015 issue of International Journal of Metalcasting (IJMC).


  A team of MSE "steel" students, lead by Daniel Diner, has produced the video "Strong as Steel" and entered it in the AIST Steel Video contest.  Click on the photo to visit the AIST video page and scroll down to "Strong as Steel" to view.  Voting is closed, but visit the link to see the videos.  Winners will be announced April 1. First prize is $3000.  Good luck!


November 2013 - The Kroehling Foundry was open for two demonstration events in November.  The first was an open house on November 2 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  MSE students who assisted included Myrissa Maxfield, Daniel Diner, Alliso Popernack, David Lichtman, Devon Baker, Peter Kim, Ian Knudsen, and Rafael Gil-Figueroa. A total of 56 visitors toured the foundry, designed their own sand molds, and watched as close to 200 pounds of gray iron were poured throughout the day. Click on the photo below to view more photos of the open house.

Click photo above to view more open house photos (pdf)

The second event was held November 9.  This was a foundry demonstration for 48 second-year VT architecture students.  The demonstration was run by MSE students Daniel Diner, Devon Baker, David Lichtman, Cameron Reynolds, Peter Kim, Matt Ocheltree, and Samuel Edwards. Below are two photos from the demonstration.


Devon Baker Receives AIST Scholarship

August 2013 - Congratulations to Devon Baker, who received the AIST Southeast Member Chapter $3500 scholarship. Devon, who will be a senior in MSE this fall, spent his summer working at Solar Industries in Tucson, Arizona. He worked as an apprentice machinist and toolroom assistant.

Sara Fleetwood Awarded Two Scholarships

July 2013 - MSE junior, Sara Fleetwood, has been awarded two scholarships. Most recently, she received a $2000 scholarship from H.H. Harris, awarded to students pursuing degrees in metallurgy and metal casting.  She also received a $2000 scholarship from the Foundry Education Foundation (FEF), which included an internship.  So this summer, Sara is interning at Bradken in Atchison, Kansas.  "My overall goal throughout this internship has been to learn as much as I can and get an idea as to whether this is the type of work I would be interested in doing after college.  I've been learning a little bit about everything that goes on at the foundry." In the process manufacturing department, Dan showed her MAGMA software, a mold pouring simulator, and Ron taught her how to weld and arc air.  "Most of my time is spent in the metallurgy department learning about different types of testing that can be done on a part to ensure that it meets both the company and customer standards." 

          Sara (left) learning welding from Ron at Bradken

Myrissa Maxfield Awarded $10,000 AIST Foundation Premier Scholarship

July 2013 - MSE junior, Myrissa Maxfield, has been awarded the Premier AIST scholarship of $10,000 for the 2013-2014 school year. The scholarship also includes a paid summer internship at a steel producing facility in North America. This is the second scholarship Myrissa has received, both awarded within a week. She also received a $4,000 scholarship from H.H. Harris. In the photo above, Myrissa is interning during summer 2013 at RTI-Martinsville in Martinsville, Virginia. Congratulations!

Congratulations to MSE Junior, Myrissa Maxfield

July 15, 2012 - Myrissa Maxfield has been awarded a $4000 H.H. Harris Foundation Scholarship. This Foundation provides scholarships for students pursuing degrees in the areas of metallurgy and metals casting. Myrissa is the third MSE student to receive this scholarship in recent years, and Prof. Alan Druschitz says this is the largest H.H. Harris award he has seen.

AFS-Piedmont Pledges Continued Support for VT FIRE

June 27, 2013 - Paul Huffman and Greg Southerland, representatives of the American Foundry Society - Piedmont Chapter, presented a $24,000 check to COE Dean Benson as a first installment of their new $40,000 pledge in support of VT-FIRE and the foundry at Virginia Tech. The AFS-Piedmont Chapter initially kicked off the VT FIRE project back when the foundry was still in the planning stages with a $45,000 pledge, which was fulfilled in 2012. Pictured below, left to right: David Clark, MSE Head; Greg Southerland, AFS-Piedmont Chair; Dick Benson, VT Engineering Dean; Paul Huffman, AFS-Piedmont Education Chair; and Alan Druschitz, Director, VT-FIRE.


Greg Southerland, Dean Benson, Paul Huffman

Dean Benson displays VT-FIRE shirt, presented to him by VT-FIRE Director, Alan Druschitz

June 24, 2013   VT-FIRE Director, Alan Druschitz, is one of four VT faculty leading an undergraduate project through the summer Scieneering program.  Two undergraduate students are hoping to discover the historic secret used in manufacturing Damascus steel.  Read more  in "Summer undergraduate research: The search to unravel a historic secret." Pictured below, Beck Giesy, sophomore in mathematics, and Veronica Kimmerly, senior in chemical engineering, hammer steel in the Kroehling foundry on an anvil designed and cast at the foundry.

January 23, 2013 - The AFS Piedmont Chapter held its annual "VT-FIRE" meeting at the Holiday Inn in Blacksburg on January 23 and 24. Students from MSE and ME gave presentations Wednesday afternoon highlighting their work at the Kroehling Foundry. Three recent MSE graduates, Jacob Young, Adam Humphreys, and Peter Kim, discussED working in the metal casting industry and the value of experiences gained at the Kroehling Foundry. MSE senior, Mary Seals talked about the value of internships. As a whole, these presentations offered an impressive portrait of the positive impact of VT FIRE and the Kroehling Advanced Materials Foundry.

On Wednesday evening, during the dinner, a total of $10,500 was awarded in scholarships to 10 students. The AFS Piedmont Chapter presented scholarships to Devon Baker (MSE junior), Shawn McKinney (MSE senior), and Drew Snelling (ME grad student). Precision Castparts Corporation awarded scholarships to MSE students Haley Cherniuk (senior), Myrissa Maxfield (sophomore), and Mary Seals (senior). FEF Foundry Education Foundation scholarships were presented to Ruth Kay, Patrick Stockhausen, and Patrick Walsh, all 3 are seniors in MSE.

November 15-16, 2012 - The Foundry Educational Foundation (FEF) held its annual College Industry Conference (CIC) in Chicago this year.  Four student delegates from MSE attended, along with the FEF Key Professor, Alan Druschitz.  This conference brings together students, professor, and metal casting leaders from across the U.S.  FEF Certified and Affiliated schools received $44,500 in special scholarships.  Virginia Tech is one of only 18 universities worldwide to be FEF Certified.  VT students won 2 of the 20 scholarships awarded:  Mary Seals received the Ronald and Glenn Birtwistle Scholarship, and Shawn McKinney received the Modern Casting Partners Scholarship. Click here to read the FEF press release.

Shawn McKinney, Mary Seals, Patrick Stockhausen, Ruth Kay, Alan Druschitz

October 7-11, 2012 - Two undergraduate students, one recent alumni, and one professor from Virginia Tech's MSE department gave presentations at the "Advances in Metal Casting Technologies" symposium at MS&T 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pa.  Prof. Bob Hendricks and Prof. Alan Druschitz organized the symposium, and Dr. Druschitz chaired the sessions.  There were 16 presentations and 13 papers submitted.  This was the first time for this symposium.  Dr. Druschitz will do this again in 2013. 

  • VT-FIRE, Virginia Tech Foundry Institute for Research and Education, Alan Druschitz and Robert Hendricks (paper and presentation). 
  • "Comparison of Wax and 3D Printed Investment Casting Pattern Materials," Mary Seals, Shawn McKinney, Patrick Walsh, Alan Druschitz, Chris Williams (paper and presentation).
  • "Rotor Design and Process Optimization for Aluminum Degassing," Adam Humphrys, Christian Birkett, Matt McCarley, Kevin Penyak, Alan Druschitz (paper and presentation).
  • "Characterization of Shot Blast System," Haley Cherniuk, Robert Hendricks, Carlos Suchicital, Alan Druschitz (presentation only.) 

This is one of the first conferences highlighting some of the work being performed at VT-FIRE.  These students are building the reputation of VT-FIRE and the new casting program at Virginia Tech.

The first VT-FIRE paper and presentation was at the 23rd Annual International Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium - An Additive Manufacturing Conference in Austin, Texas, on August 6-8, 2012.

  • "Lightweight Metal Cellular Structures Via Indirect 3D Printing and Casting," Nicholas Meisel, Christopher Williams, Alan Druschitz.

October 4, 2012 - When the Class of 2014 Ring Premiere takes place on October 18, it will be the start of a new tradition for VT class rings. On May 3, 2012, members of the 2014 Ring Committee, along with Jesse Fowler and Jim Flynn (Class of 1964), and Jim Johnson (Class of 1960), joined Alan Druschitz and Paul Huffman (Class of 1978) at the foundry for an inaugural ring melt. This means gold class rings, beginning with 2014 rings, will include a little VT history. Click the links below to read more and to see photos from the ring melt ceremony held at Kroehling Advanced Materials Foundry.

'Hokie Gold' to be included in many 2014 class rings      Hokie Gold Legacy Program Ring melt photo collage 1 and photo collage 2

Hokie Gold Legacy - A Tradition Begins (YouTube Video)

August 3, 2012 - The VT Human Powered Submarine Team is featured on page 19 of the METAL CASTIING DESIGN & PURCHASING, July/August 2012.  The team was able to cast their propeller blades at the Kroehling Foundry during the 2011/2012 school year.   View page 19 in pdf format.

July 2012 - Congratulations to Haley Cherniuk and Mary Seals! Haley received a $3000 scholarship from the AIST Foundation, and Mary received a $3000 H.H. Harris Foundation Scholarship.

April 10, 2012 - Congratulations to Adam Humphrys and Peter Kim! Their airplane casting won second place in the AFS Birmingham Chapter Student Casting Competition held on April 9 at the Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama.  They received a $250 prize, and the Birmingham Chapter donated another $250 to the VT AFS Student Chapter for participating in the competition.


March 14, 2012 - The Piedmont Chapter of the American Foundry Society held their annual VT FIRE update meeting March 13 & 14 at the Hoilday Inn, Blacksburg.  During the dinner, students gave presentations detailing their experiences at the foundry.  VT-FIRE Director, Alan Druschitz, talked about foundry activities and future plans, and Dean Benson also shared thoughts on VT FIRE and on the engineering program at VT. Three MSE students received VT-FIRE scholarships from the AFS - Piedmont Chapter. (Left to right, Corey O'Connell, Mary Seals, Adam Humphrys)

November 28, 2011 - 2011 Foundry Educational Foundation College Industry Conference held November 17-18.

Adam Humphrys (MSE undergrad) and Alan Druschitz (MSE prof. & VT FIRE Director) attended the 2011 FEF-CIC held in Chicago November 17 and 18. The CIC provides an excellent opportunity for metalcasting related companies to network with some of the brightest students from the top engineering colleges and universities in North America, all in one place.
The Career Information Session (formerly Industry Information Session), held on November 17th, is a cost-effective opportunity to meet with nearly 100 FEF students who are looking for jobs and have established an interest in metal casting. Most of them will be graduating between December, 2011 and June, 2012. Other events include global outlook presentations, including information on the U.S., Canada and Mexico and the awards luncheon, where the FEF/AFS Distinguished Professor Award and student delegate scholarships were given out. A presentation was made by one of the student delegates in attendance. During the FEF Annual Reception, FEF’s highest honor was presented – the E.J. Walsh Award.


August 1, 2011 -   A group from the Air Force Research Lab Manufacturing Technology Division visited Virginia Tech for a week-long short course on "Innovation-based Manufacturing." As part of their short course, the group spent a day the foundry learning about advanced foundry practices.  Click on the thumbnails below to see photos of their foundry visit.



July 12 & 21, 2011 - VT-FIRE welcomed middle school CEED - Imagination campers to the foundry for a tour and casting demonstration. About 50 middle schoolers received an introduction to metallurgy and foundry work as part of Virginia Tech's Center for Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) summer camp Imagination program. VT-FIRE Director, Alan Druschitz, gave the students a tour of the foundry, and MSE Facilities Manager, Carlos Suchicital, presented an introduction to metallurgy. Afterwards, the students created their own designs in prepared sand molds, and then they observed as molten aluminum was poured into the molds to create aluminum castings that each student could take home. Click the thumbnails below to see photos.


 May 5, 2011 - Alan Druschitz has won a Best Paper award in the AFS Lost Foam Division. "Vacuum Assisted Filing of Lost Foam Castings" was published in the AFS Transactions in 2010 and presented at the 2010 AFS Metalcasting Congress. The paper was co-authored by Harry Littleton of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

April 5, 2011 - FOUNDRY DEDICATION Held April 5, 2011 (click to read story) 

April 5, 2011 Foundry Dedication Ceremony April 5, 2011 More Dedication Photos Program April 5, 2011 Gifts

 January 2011 - Classes began at the foundry in January. Click on the thumbnails to view photos.

February 8, 2011 February 22, 2011 February 24, 2011 February 24, 2011 Continued

 January 2011 VTFIRE article in Foundry Magazine, January 21, 2011 (click to read)

  VT Fire Floorplan (pdf)

VT Fire Industry Champions (pdf)


  Other Foundry News Minimize
The Kroehlings and VT FIRE - Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Hokie Gold Legacy - A Tradition Begins - Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Druschitz Rides Submarine - Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Director Alan Druschitz Visits Navy Submarine Training Center, October 20-21, 2011

Click photo for details and more photos!

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