Over this past summer, I was fortunate to have an engineering internship at SanCasT, an iron foundry in my hometown of Coshocton, Ohio. At SanCasT, sand is mixed with water and a clay bond and is then compressed to form molds. Molten iron is poured into these molds, where it hardens to form iron products which are then sold to industrial corporations. My project while I was interning was to figure out a way to improve efficiency in the sand mixing process, which was a task that the engineers had been hoping to do for a while but lacked the spare manpower to do. I started by doing periodic tests on different samples of sand in the foundry’s sand lab. I tested quantities like permeability, compactibility, and moisture composition, all of which determine how well the sand holds together when making molds. I also calculated the efficiency of the muller, the machine that mixes the sand with the water and clay bond. After several weeks of running sand tests and collecting data, I began analyzing the data using Minitab statistical software. I looked for trends in the data and how each measurement correlated with the other measurements. I also looked at variations between batches of sand and variations within a batch of sand. After my initial analysis was completed, I presented my findings to the engineers and managers at the foundry. I concluded that it was reasonable to assume that decreasing the sand mix time by 10% would improve efficiency. To test this, the engineers decreased the sand mix time and I repeated my data collection and analysis process. The new data confirmed that the muller was indeed working more efficiently, and sand production had increased, meaning more molds and more products could theoretically be produced. I presented my findings to the management at the end of my internship. Two months later, I received an email with a chart from my employer. The chart shows that the downtime from waiting on sand has decreased since my project was completed in early-mid August.
From this internship, I gained valuable skills in communicating with other engineers, through both my work and presentations. I gained real-world experience working in industry, which made me consider working in industry as a possible career. Previously, I hadn’t wanted to work for a foundry or a plant instead preferring to work in a lab, but my internship changed my mind on that. I have applied to more industry-related internships for this next summer as well, and having experience in industry increases my chance of obtaining one. Also, my internship influenced my undergraduate studies by helping me realize that many engineering skills are built through experience and not just classroom learning. As a result, I have joined more engineering related groups like Society of Professional Engineers and am also looking for a research assistant position where I can do hands-on work. I am most proud that I was able to make a significant real-world difference to help my employers. I enjoyed the data analysis process and working with the statistical software. I also enjoyed that much of my project was open-ended and I was able to approach it how I saw fit and tackle it as I saw fit. Overall, my internship at SanCasT helped me prepare well for my future career in engineering.