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Molding future foundry workers

Krystle Wagner • Mar 21, 2018 at 12:00 PM

FRUITPORT — After a gas furnace melted aluminum, seventh-grader Justin Laus helped industrial arts teacher Jamie Stahl pour the liquid into a sand-cast mold.

As the group waited for the aluminum to solidify, fellow Fruitport Middle School students created their own molds using patterns of turtles, frogs and jets.

Members of the West Michigan chapter of the American Foundry Society and local foundry workers volunteered in Stahl’s industrial arts class for “foundry in a box” on Tuesday. Using the equipment already in the classroom, the volunteers provided a hands-on opportunity to understand metal casting.

Through the experience, the students also learned about physics, chemistry, math and hard work, said Jim Perreault, a past-president of the society’s West Michigan chapter.

Perreault said he’s visited Stahl’s class several times, and the students are always engaged and working on hands-on projects.

The class had previously welded cars and tested them down a ramp, said seventh-grader Mecka Dueber.

Dueber, 13, said she’s enjoyed the class so far because it gets them active and communicating with their peers. She also likes the class because it provides a chance to use machines and learn about potential jobs.

As seventh-grader Samantha Hutchins brushed sand off her finished product, she said the process was fun. The 12-year-old said she liked carefully pouring the molten tin into a sand-cast mold.

“It’s just really cool to watch,” she said.

Perreault said he hopes the kids take away a sense of pride having made their own molds and seeing a part of foundry work.

Over the years, Perreault has worked for businesses such as Steel Foundry and Eagle Alloy. He also started his own business, Services Foundry.

Perreault said he volunteered to work with the middle school students Tuesday because he enjoys working with kids, and he would like to see more of them enter the industry because it is lacking skilled workers. He said they need more young people in the industry filling a variety of roles — on the foundry floor, in sales, in robotics and more.

“We would like to see young people in the trades,” Perreault said.

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