Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Engineering Classes - IE 311: Metal Casting

Me welding in a Captain America Welding Helmet

IE 311 is an manufacturing elective based on metal casting, metal welding and some plastic processes. I learned a ton about metals, even got to weld and had a great time getting a general knowledge of manufacturing. I give this class a 9/10 for keeping me engaged and teaching me a ton! The professor for the semester (it changes), Dr. Paul Lynch, is a great professor. He is one of the best professors I've had at Penn State. I've learned so much from him and he's excellent at breaking things down into simple terms. I may not be the best student in the whole class but I know I learned a lot and I respect that so much. I've never had a professor that is so immersed in his work - he gets in at like 6 am and works until midnight. He gives back exams up to a week later and quizzes the next  class. He makes himself so available to his students and he is just awesome! 

The main use of this class in engineering is to understand the processes used in making metal and plastic parts. We had a two hour lab with this class once a week and even though it was annoying to dress in steel toe boots and t-shirts every Tuesday, it was so cool! We actually did most of the work ourselves, got taught actual foundry practices, and made cool things like a cast aluminum dog and a laser cut lion head that I will put in every home I live in. I also MIG, TIG, STICK and Spot Welded. It was pretty fun! I have so much more respect for people who weld for a living. Paul was telling us in class that they can get paid up to $100/hour for outside welding jobs if they are good and $200/hour for underwater welding. It's insane money! The skill needed to weld is high and they are held to very high standards. The importance of welding in this world is unparalleled.  How does a bike frame, gas lines or even hotels come together? Welding

In my daily life, I notice a lot more how things are made or how they should be made. It's very important that the right manufacturing process is used to make a product. People do not like anything low quality whey they pay you to make it and they do not want something that could fail in a critical place. I inspect things for joints and welds. It even applies to clothes! I always check all the critical parts of an item when I buy it. You can't change certain things like seams or collars - just like the main assemblies and joints in a part. You can change buttons or zippers to be exactly what you desire - those are like heat treatments or machining on parts. 

The other thing I liked about this class is the knowledge it gave me. On a plane ride back from an interview, I sat next to a man who worked at a Powder Metallurgy company. We talked about green parts, the processes at his plant and metals in general. I was so impressed with myself that I had the knowledge to make conversation with this man for a long time as well as that like everything I learned is really being used in industry. He even gave me his card and told me to email him when I am applying for full time. 

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