Derek Stake is the forge manager at Mid-West Forge Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio. He is also a member of FIA’s Technical Committee and lives out his belief that “Getting more of our youth exposed to forging is the only way to keep this industry alive!”
Stake has made presentations to students of all ages discussing engineering and other trade jobs related to the forging industry. He has spoken to students at Ohio locations including Hillside Middle School in Seven Hills, Garfield Heights High School, Lorain County Joint Vocational School and Cuyahoga Valley Career Center. He has also guest lectured for professor Chris Yuan’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology class at Case Western Reserve University. Students from Case Western, Cleveland State University and Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) and teachers participating in ASM Materials Camps have toured Mid-West Forge to see the forging process firsthand.
FIERF recently took some time to talk with Stake about his role in attracting students to careers in forging and metalworking.
FIERF: Derek, you obviously have a passion when it comes to student outreach. How did that come about?
Stake: I went to college for engineering and worked at a forge company at the same time. When I started to learn about materials and manufacturing processes, I got excited. I couldn’t wait for the section on steel and, obviously, forging. Sadly, I was pretty disappointed when the book and my professor just glossed over the topic of forging. I was so let down that I spoke up in class about it, and the professor let me explain what I knew about forging at that time, which wasn’t very much.
Soon after graduation I started teaching part-time at Tri-C and Cleveland State in their engineering programs. I felt it was my duty to right the wrong that I had felt. In one of my classes at Tri-C another professor heard my presentation on forging and asked me to visit Cuyahoga Valley Career Center and give a presentation about the forging industry. The students were interested and easy to engage. They asked a lot of questions, and some were excited about the size of the equipment and the heat and force that I was describing and showing via a few videos. It was another outlet for me to continue talking about something that I am passionate about.
I see a lack of interest in the forging industry from the next generation, and I think that it starts in the classroom. The students are constantly exposed to the worlds of healthcare, finance and technology, leaving no time for an introduction to manufacturing.
FIERF: What do you share in these presentations?
Stake: I have a PowerPoint presentation that is based on the lecture I give when covering materials and manufacturing processes in the engineering classes that I taught. It covers an introduction to forging, why forging matters, what materials can be forged, the types of equipment required to manufacture metal forgings and the career opportunities in the forging industry. I have brought cut-up forged components to show the students grain flows and grain sizes. I have also brought metal components that have failed and talked about the differences in manufacturing methods.
FIERF: What type of questions and reactions do you get?
Stake: Most students ask about jobs, what degrees are needed and how much money they can make. Some students ask about some of the technical details and compare it to a sword blacksmithing show on TV. I do get some blank stares, but I can tell there are always one or two students that are really into it. They stay after to talk about how their dad and/or mom are welders/engineers/electricians and if they can do that in the forging industry.