ESCO Provides Research Opportunities for PSU
by Daniel Widlund
August 22, 2018
When I joined ESCO six years ago as Chief
Metallurgist, I had a strong background in metallurgy and materials technology.
My experience and education prepared me to lead a team of metallurgists:
materials scientists who specialize in metals like steel, aluminum, iron and
copper. Our team is now a part of the operations group at ESCO, a division of Weir.
We provide division-wide support on alloy development and optimization and
daily support on other production or quality-related issues.
As education opportunities in the
science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields continue to grow, it’s
important to me that we continue to support the education of the next
generation of metallurgists right here at home in Portland through programs
such as the Oregon Metals Initiative (OMI).
OMI is a consortium of local metal
manufacturing companies and research institutions that “pursues research to
improve the long-term competitiveness of the metals industry and the research
infrastructure in Oregon.”
Each year, OMI partners member companies
like ESCO with a local university to develop and complete a research project.
These projects help the company gather fundamental information on material
properties and behaviors during manufacturing processes and provide research
opportunities to local engineering students. The member companies make
financial contributions to the research projects, which are fully matched by
the State of Oregon.
For the last several years, our team at
ESCO has partnered with the Mechanical & Materials Engineering department
at Portland State University. Because PSU has equipment that ESCO doesn’t have
access to, the students and professors are able to create small sample specimen
that our metallurgists can then analyze and integrate into our product
results and compare it with measured data.
Above right: Me and my colleague, Metallurgical Engineer, Smati Chupatanakul, discuss simulation
Our projects with PSU over the past two
years have involved acquiring thermo-physical properties of our proprietary
alloys and using that data in different simulation software. To do this, we
used PSU’s Gleeble® Thermal-Mechanical Simulator for advanced material
simulations to look at the behavior of alloys during heat treatment where we
heat up and cool down material, in a controlled environment, comparing that
data with our own computer simulations.
At right: An up-close picture of a Gleeble test.
According to Graham Tewksbury, Senior
Research Associate at PSU, this collaboration with ESCO gives PSU students the
opportunity to work on industrially relevant projects, thanks to the funding
from OMI. Tewksbury says that the work his students do for ESCO helps relate
the material science taught in the classroom to the practical application and
importance of heat treatment in an industrial setting.
For me, supporting this type of
initiative hits close to home as I have experience of working with university
research and education. I know the importance and value of these relationships
between industry and academia. The funding provided through the OMI projects
helps make it more viable for the universities to maintain their programs in
material science and metallurgy, thanks in part to the support from the State.
It is vital that we not only continue to
expand our research and understanding of these types of processes, but also
that we support the education and training of our local engineering students.