By Abbie-Meredith, News Editor –
The creation of an aluminum pitcher pump from castings has won third place for its
creators, a team of MCC technology students.
They placed third at the 78th Annual Wisconsin Regional Foundry Conference and
Exposition casting competition this year, held in Milwaukee. This is the third year in a row that
MCC has placed in the competition.
This year’s team included Mac Ruiter, Jacob Hetcel, Phil Daneff, Brad Cook, and Caleb
Schuitema. They were accompanied by John Johnston and Mark Houston, the MCC foundry
The teams from invited American Foundry Society (AFS) student chapters worked
together to design, manufacture, and present their castings at the conference.
This year's competition was slightly different than the last, as the team used parts that had
been previously. The pump body was used for the first year’s entry and the other component, like
the handle and base, were projects in the machining and CAD classes.
This year’s casting included all the internal parts needed for the pump, and as soon as the
fall and winter classes began, the team had good start on making the part.
The team had to make all the parts in the foundry in addition to machining and
assembling the parts into a finished, working product. They completed the assembly a week
before the competition.
The team decided to make an aluminum pitcher pump because they wanted to finish an
interesting project that had been started by previous chapter members. The team as a whole felt
very accomplished to be able to complete the project.
The team faced some challenges along the way that they were able to remedy. Students
were having difficulty with the machining side of the project and had to use various techniques
to get the desired outcome.
“ Mac Ruiter, our main chapter member who worked on the machining, had to use both
manual and CNC equipment to get our desired finished machined part,” said Schuitema, “That
ranged from drilling and tapping large pipe threads to setting up and programming a CNC lathe
to cut both external and internal threads on the parts that held the seal.”
With the help of Daneff, the students figured out the process.
Another challenge encountered was the porosity in the finished aluminum part. Hetcel,
the main chapter member who focused on the foundry aspect of the project, experimented with
different melting temperatures of the aluminum.
He found that raising the temperature seemed to help with the porosity issue.
The materials used in the creation of the pump pitcher were donated by multiple local
business. In addition, the team was also provided valuable advice and knowledge to help them
with their project.
The team was exposed to different ideas and approaches to the castings that other
colleges and universities used. Industry leaders and companies looking for employees made
several job offers to students.
The businesses at conference were eager to help students with their education and donate
materials to be used because they know they benefit it will be to the student’s learning and the
progress of the industry.
“I personally learned quite a bit about G-code programming,” said Ruiter, “as well as
brainstorming different ways to properly machine parts, using the tools you have to get the job
done, and most importantly I learned even more about what actually goes on in the foundry. This
includes troubleshooting sand mold issues or even the temperature of the melted aluminum.”
The experience from the conference opened up new doors of opportunities for the team
members and will benefit future students. Johnston commented that the conference allows
students to see directly what is happening in the nationwide while competing against other top
universities and colleges.
“There are a couple different processes we hope to setup and use in our foundry for next
year's classes and competition,” said Schuitema, “[like] getting another furnace going to melt
cast iron and to try two different methods of treating the metal during the melting are some
things we got information on at the conference from people willing to help.”
MCC was awarded a $500 cash prize. Michigan Tech won the $2,500 first place award
and University of Wisconsin-Platteville took the $1,000 second place prize.
Featured Image: Brad Cook, Jacob Hertel, Caleb Schuitema, Phil Daneff, and Mac Ruiter