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Education for the future

Career academy students job shadow at Seneca Foundry

—Submitted Eagle Grove Career Academy students, from the left, Chloe Kovacs, Jacob Darland, Cierra Andrews, Sofia Padilla, Jagger Toillion and Paxtyn Terwilliger learn about Seneca Foundry manufacturing May 4 during their tour of the business. Seneca Foundry provides tours and education opportunities to inform the community and potential employees of what all goes on at the foundry.

Six students toured Seneca Foundry in early May. The students are juniors and seniors that attend the Eagle Grove Career Academy. They spent the afternoon learning about the foundry’s manufacturing processes and educational aspects.

The tour was led by Larry Helm, Technical Director, and Lori Mason, COO, Seneca Foundry does on average five to six tours each year.

“We did a tour of the facility and explained our process of what we manufacture and who some of our customers are, and what kind of materials we use,” said Mason.

Colleen Bartlett, Career Academy Specialist at Iowa Central Community College, works with all of the public and private high schools that fall under Iowa Central’s region, including Eagle Grove. She helped set up the tour.

“The counselor at Eagle Grove asked me and my co-worker to set up job shadow opportunities based on what the students’ career interests were,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett has been taking career academy students to the foundry for nearly two years.

“When I work with them, I set up work-based learning activities that help them to know what careers are in our area,” said Bartlett.

The Eagle Grove Career Academy brings juniors and seniors from six different high schools to Eagle Grove to take college credit classes, according to Bartlett.

“We try to set up tours so they too can see what businesses are out here and to put textbook learning into practice,” Bartlett said.

“Our company philosophy is really geared toward education,” said Mason. “We focus a lot on education for our employees, but then it extends beyond that and we want to educate the community and expand everyone’s knowledge base on what it is we do here.”

When students visited the tour was geared towards providing them an overview of the many different steps from making a core and a mold, melting down raw materials to a molten iron that is 2600 degrees Fahrenheit, and using multiple different hand tools to clean gating connections and parting lines off the castings.

“After the tour, we did a hands-on activity called Foundry in a Box. We actually had the kids use foundry sand to replicate the whole process and make a mold,” said Mason.

The students were able to put some of this new found knowledge into a hands on experience with Foundry In A Box. While they were making a mold with foundry sand we talked about what detail is needed to create a quality casting. Melted tin at a low temp was poured into their molds and after cooling the students had an opportunity to clean any excess material from their butterfly, ladybug, starfish, or car castings.

“Lori and her group are absolutely fantastic to work with,” said Bartlett. “They’re really fantastic. They really give the kids a good experience.”

Bartlett hopes to continue bringing students to Seneca Foundry for further education and real-life experience.

“They’re just a really good business to work with,” Bartlett said. “They’re very accommodating and interested in helping out students to know about manufacturing and the foundry.”

According to Mason, Seneca Foundry hosts tours at every chance they get for students, parents, and community groups of all ages that are interested in learning more about the foundry manufacturing process and iron casting products.

“There are many different kinds of advanced manufacturing career opportunities that we are presenting to students as they consider what they would like to be doing later on in life,” said Mason. “A goal in all of our tours for the community is to broaden the horizons and allow everyone an opportunity to see what is available and what different types of successful careers can be made not only at Seneca Foundry but in the manufacturing field in general.”

“The students can see what they learned in the text and actually see it in practice,” Bartlett said. “It also gives them an opportunity to see that we have local businesses around here that they can work at.”“It lets them know that you don’t have to drive to Des Moines or far away to find jobs. That there are jobs here in our area,” Bartlett said. “For the business, it exposes them to students that are potential employees.”

“It lets them know that you don’t have to drive to Des Moines or far away to find jobs. That there are jobs here in our area,” Bartlett said. “For the business, it exposes them to students that are potential employees.”

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