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ESCO Engages Blog

ESCO Provides Research Opportunities for PSU Engineering Students

 

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.

 

Daniel and Smati_E.jpg

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 development processes.

 
Above right: 
Me and my colleague, Metallurgical Engineer, Smati Chup​atanakul, discuss simulation 

results and compare it with measured data.


 

Up close picture of a Gleeble test.jpg

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.