Ajax Tocco, Fireline recognized for CoLab contributions

April 13, 2012  |  
YSU's Colab project with Ajax TOCCO and Fireline was demonstrated in a press conference today. Molten metal was poured from the new furnace.

Molten metal is poured from a furnace during a news conference in the Collaborative Learning Laboratory at YSU.

Ajax Tocco Magnethermic Corp. and Fireline, Inc. were recognized today for their contributions to Youngstown State University’s Collaborative Learning Laboratory (CoLab), a partnership between the university’s visual arts and engineering programs in the colleges of Fine & Performing Arts and STEM.

“I want to thank Fireline and Ajax Tocco for their generosity in advancing this initiative and for again taking the lead in yet another business-university collaboration,” YSU President Cynthia E. Anderson said.

Ajax Tocco of Warren designed and installed a new induction furnace in Bliss Hall that the departments of Art and Mechanical Engineering Technology are sharing to collaborate on various projects, including the creation of metal sculptures and machine parts. The furnace and installation are valued at about $150,000.

“The equipment donation is about providing students with tools and experience for the future,” said Ted Burke, research development manager for Ajax Tocco.

Fireline, Inc. of Youngstown provided the metal vessels for the high temperature furnace and has made a commitment to YSU to continue supplying them as needed.

“We are very happy that we were able to contribute to the establishment of CoLab and play an ongoing support role,” said Mark Peters, Fireline’s director of engineering. “We believe this new equipment will be beneficial to both engineering and art students, giving them real world experiences and better preparing them for their future careers.”

Ajax Tocco designs and manufactures induction heating and melting equipment for various industries and applications throughout the world. Fireline Inc. manufactures high-performance ceramic shapes used in a variety of molten metal applications.

CoLab was created four years ago by Greg Moring, Art professor, and Brian Vuksanovich, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology, to bring students from the two disciplines together to collaborate on various projects. CoLab gives students hands-on opportunities and allows programs from two vastly different colleges – the arts and the sciences – to share resources, talents and knowledge across disciplines.

“The furnace becomes a perfect resource to help us accomplish this,” Moring said.

The two-coil furnace – one coil having a supported crucible for high-temperature steel alloys, the other an unsupported crucible for iron-lacking, or non-ferrous, alloys – expands the capabilities of both the Art and MET programs. Whereas the old gas-fired furnace melted only non-ferrous alloys in 90 minutes, the new equipment melts both ferrous and non-ferrous alloys in 15 minutes, increasing the number of students who can use it.

YSU art students use the furnace in the casting process, where metals are melted to liquid and then poured into a mold to take on a new shape. The process is used in 3-Dimensional Studies classes to create medium-sized sculptures. For MET students in the College of STEM, the furnace is used in casting metals to create mechanical parts for various machines. They will also be able to develop different alloys and metal-forming techniques.

What makes the furnace so significant, said Moring, is its technology. The furnace melts aluminum, bronze, cast iron and alloy steels in a much faster and safer manner, which reduces the time students will spend working with hot metals when melting and pouring them.

For Moring’s students, CoLab is an opportunity to take their projects to the “sellable level” and gain insight into manufacturing and mass production from the MET students. Vuksanovich says CoLab “gets engineering students out of the textbook and gives them a chance to be creative.” He also said that working with art student “clients” gives MET students invaluable practice they will need when working with customers.

About Youngstown State University
Youngstown State University is a comprehensive emerging urban research university that offers over 14,000 students more than 135 undergraduate and graduate programs backed by a strong tradition of teaching, scholarship and public service. As a major educational and economic development resource in the region, YSU is known for its focus on academic research and creative programs that transform its students into successful professionals, scholars and leaders. Located in the heart of the Tech Belt between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, YSU provides opportunities for students to actively participate with accomplished faculty, often in one-on-one settings, on advanced research and creative collaborations. The beautiful 145-acre campus includes high-tech classrooms, state-of-the-art labs and performance facilities, a variety of on-campus housing options and recreational facilities among the best in the nation.