What's Your Holy Grail?
The saying that the more you know the more you don't know has rung particularly true for me in these last two weeks. I spent one day at a manufacturer's exhibition alongside industry veteran Mark Morel, Morel Industries, Seattle, who spoke to each inquisitive soul with commanding knowledge about whether their part could be cast, should be cast, in what process and what alloy. Then this week, I sat in on an iron metallography testing workshop delving into the minutia of iron metallurgy, chemical analysis and microstructure. When I first began writing for Metal Casting Design & Purchasing eight years ago, I was aware I didn't know anything about the industry. But with each new nugget of information learned and understood, I am opened up to 50 times more metalcasting knowledge I have yet to process.
Of course, this concept is not new, but it hit home for me the necessity of continuing a quest for education, whether through mentoring, classroom training, workshops, or job shadowing.
With this importance in mind, AFS and its Institute has launched a new initiative to update its courses with new content and formats as well as add new classes to meet industry needs, including classes for designers and purchasers of castings. These classes range from entry level to advanced and have been designed to be shorter, more interactive and more practical for the adult student who can take the ideas learned in class and apply them directly to the job. Maybe they can find the answer to why they keep producing a certain defect or how to improve casting throughput with processing software.
But knowledge is gained in more ways than in a classroom, and this is where mentoring is key. In a recent visit to O'Fallon Casting, O'Fallon, Mo., General Manager Vince Gimeno pointed out all the new technology the company has added in the last five years. He mentioned O'Fallon puts its young engineers and managers in charge of many of the projects, so they can exercise and develop their own inventive muscles--a skill strongly needed when they are the ones running the whole company.
The quest to fill the ever expanding black hole of the unknown is where innovation is born, so saddle up and start seeking.