Student captures top award in Cast in Steel competition 

Once again, a student majoring in manufacturing engineering technology at Pittsburg State University has captured a top award in the national Cast in Steel competition, hosted by the Steel Founders Society of America in Columbus, Ohio. 

cast in steel

Austin Jacks, a senior from Archie, Missouri, earned a third-place finish in the Best Casting Design category for a Celtic leaf sword that took him nearly the entire academic year to create. 

This is his second win in two years: He was part of last year’s team that won first place for their version of Thor’s hammer. This year, he competed as an individual, earning special recognition for a team event typically done by four or more students. 

“This year, the competition required students to produce a sword that was to be largely based on the historical weapon of the ancient Celts,” Jacks said. “My design was largely based on historical examples of this Iron Age short sword using religious and mythological ornamentation.” 

He combined those details with modern-day casting techniques to produce a weapon that would perform well in testing and meet the judges’ requirements. 

He also was required to create a comprehensive engineering report and a video documenting the entire process, which included historical research, brainstorming, networking with potential sponsors, 3D modeling, testing verification, mold creation, pouring, heat treatment, and finishing. 

For the first five months of the project, he focused primarily on designing, modeling, and testing. The blade and brass handle components were cast in January and the finishing and documentation processes were complete April 1. 

Jacks and his advisor, Russ Rosmait, along with other faculty and students from Pittsburg State, attended the competition for testing performed in person and a testing by the judges of the finalists’ blades. His sword was up against nearly 40 from across the U.S. 

“We’re really proud of Austin and proud that our program continually does well in this competition, which pits the best of the best against each other,” Rosmait said. “It’s a rigorous process and to come out on top is really an achievement.”  

Jacks offered a special thanks to companies who played a role in his project: 

  • • Denison Industries in Texas for helping with mold design and creation 
  • • Monett Metals in Monett, Missouri, for working with him to develop and pour a cast steel alloy 
  • • Trojan Heat Treat in Joplin, Missouri, for post processing help in annealing, heat treatment, and tempering of the blades 

He also thanked Rosmait and Professor Jacob Lehman for their mentorship. 

“The competition gives students in metal casting the chance to broadcast their skills in engineering in a hands-on and competitive environment, and it makes me hopeful for my future in metal casting as a foundry engineer,” he said. 

A winning tradition 

Jacks’ win comes on the heels of PSU winning “Most Captivating Design” in 2019 for a Viking axe, and “Best Cast Guard and Pommel” in 2020 for a Bowie knife.   

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Manufacturing Engineering Technology