Student Day Gives Firsthand Exposure to the Art and Science of Steel Production
“When it comes to math and science, the United States needs to do its homework.” -Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Administration.
Representative Miller has the statistics to back up her claim: the share of bachelor’s degrees earned in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields peaked at 24 percent in 1985; by 2009, the share had fallen to 18 percent, according to a report by the Joint Economic Committee Chairman’s Staff Senator Bob Casey, Chairman.
And while we’re just one of many industries eager for more STEM graduates to enter our workforce, we do feel strongly about providing STEM students firsthand exposure to how steel pipe piling is manufactured.
Atlas Tube Hosts Student Day for Undergrad Engineers
Just yesterday, we co-hosted Student Day with the Deep Foundations Institute, where 100 engineering students from Purdue University and University of Illinois Chicago gathered at our Atlas Tube mill in Chicago.
The event began with an overview of steel chemistries, hollow structural sections, pipe piles and geotechnical engineering. Students were then given an opportunity to turn in their résumés to professionals from our parent company, Zekelman, and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for possible internship and employment opportunities.
Our Chicago facility operates two shifts per day, allowing us to produce up to 2,400 tons of steel per day. The second half of the Student Day event included a guided tour, demonstrating exactly how that 2,400 tons is manufactured; students gathered to observe structural rounds, squares and rectangular steel products in production. Students were also briefed on the metallurgy quality lab used for product testing and why we provide original mill test reports (MTR) with every order. Facility managers relayed that each MTR is backed by coil certificates from our raw material suppliers and reviewed before the coils are shipped to our plants, ensuring the product meets the highest quality specifications requirements.
The tour also highlighted a key component, one that separates us from other suppliers: a welded tag tack onto each bundle. Plant managers explained that the information on the tag is very helpful for answering a customer’s question. Our unique tag data system can also be used to provide traceability, both in storage as well as on the job site. From start to finish, students gained firsthand exposure to the art and science of steel production.
The tour concluded with an energetic Q&A session, emphasizing the job market, the construction bidding process and overall product availability. We’re confident our Purdue and UIC guests left with an interest in civil and geotechnical engineering careers, and important insight into the steel pipe piling manufacturing process.
The Need for more STEM Workers
Addressing the need for STEM skilled workers is vital to many interest groups, including politicians, the public and the construction industry, but it’s also a particularly important issue for the geotechnical engineers, general contractors and piling contractors planning deep foundation projects across North America. Empowering students with real world experience will strengthen our workforce, drive growth and keep our deep foundation projects, our infrastructure competitive.