Carpenter Headquarters: Biomedical Advice

Today was my last day shadowing as my independent study was cut short by a mandatory orientation at Penn State. This morning started early, around 7 am with a drive down to the Amtrak station in Lancaster, PA. I arrived at the station 30 minutes early to find that there was no long term parking left. Frantically, I drove around for another 15 minutes waiting for someone else to leave, but with a train approaching and still no parking, I asked a man walking out and he suggested I just park in the employee lot, so luckily I got a parking spot AND free parking.

As I was waiting for the train to arrive, I ran into the same man that helped me with parking, and started talking to him regarding where he was headed; turns out, he’s a Penn State alum and a retired Penn State Professor, so he gave me some tips about State College and how to manage the workload while enjoying what the university has to offer.

Once on the train, the ride took about an hour and went through the farms of Central Pennsylvania. I got off at 30th Street Station, about a mile from the headquarters I was supposed to meet the biomedical engineer at (keep in mind it was 87 degrees out and I was wearing heels). I met him in the lobby of The BNY Building as the executive floor was just offices, so there wasn’t much to see.

He took me out for lunch at a local pizza place and I inquired about his path from college to working at headquarters at the young age of 30. He attended a university in Southern India for his undergraduate degree and then attended graduate school in Long Island. During his time in graduate school he worked on research with his professor and two other peers. Not thinking much of his research at the time of graduation, he began applying to jobs in The United States but none of the companies were offering his desired starting salary to him due to his need for a Green Card. He decided that instead of settling, he would patent and create his own start up company based on the research he had done with his professor.

The product developed was a solution with a much lower concentration of metal than that in our current MRI injection. To give you some background, an MRI works by injecting a highly concentrated metal solution into the bloodstream then using a large machine to send magnetic waves through the body and identify places where tumors reside. The issue with this is that people with kidney problems cannot process these hard metal solutions. He invented a solution with 85% less metals that is just as, if not more effective. After 5 years of working on and developing his start-up, after finishing the small animal testing, he sold his share of the start-up to a major biomedical company, and moved on to work for Carpenter.

I inquired about what an average work day looks like for him and his response shocked me. That day, he had a department meeting from 8 to 9, three separate product meetings from 9 to 12:30, then a quick lunch break, and a conference call from 2 to 3 followed by a staff meeting from 3 to 5. Long story short, his work day is almost entirely meetings.

After learning much about him, he asked me about my plans for college and I explained to him that I was going to major in chemical engineering with a minor in an undecided business field. He was very supportive of my major choice, and highly suggested that if I want to make big money in my future, I should do my best to double major in finance and chemical engineering. With both majors under my belt, it would then be possible to work for a major pharmaceutical company and manage their expenses, which sounded to me like a dream job.

Overall, working with Gharuv was incredibly helpful in realizing and confirming what I’d like to do with my future.

Leadership Conference Last Day

As I was busy with the mill tour yesterday, I didn’t get the chance to visit the third day of the leadership conference. Luckily, day three was not incredibly important, and today they were doing their final project. The men stayed at the conference center until 1 am designing specified “rockets” and “cars” to the customers (Jacqui’s) requirements. Her requirements were that the car be powered by elasticity and must arrive within 10 cm of the rocket which was six meters away.

They began today by doing an exercise, listing 75 key things they learned from the previous three days, and then jumped back into designing their rocket. The design was only a small portion of the assignment, they also had to submit a team roster, materials list, work breakdown structure, and timeline. Any flaws in any of the submissions could cause the gatekeepers or customer to call a redo of that stage. As Jacqui was the customer, she kept changing her preferences with the teams, from no artwork to flames, from pointed tip to rounded, each time making it increasingly more difficult for the teams. In addition to that, the teams had to finish with a profit of $100,000+ to be successful.

The most challenging part for the teams was building the rocket such that it could hold a Dasani water bottle inside of it, and also to keep the project under budget, but ultimately both teams succeeded. The main takeaway from this was that every step of a project must be recorded and the most important things are customer satisfaction and feasibility of the project.

I’ve attached a picture of one of the teams completed rocket below:

Mill Tour

Today I had to come prepared with steel toed shoes as I would be touring the vast number of mill buildings at Carpenter. I didn’t have many expectations for that the mill would be like, I pictured it as I had seen in an occasional movie here and there: dark and scary. The way movies portray steel mills isn’t too far off from how they are in reality; my first impression of the mill was that this is what nightmares were made of. There was 45 ton containers of molten hot steal, smoke and flames flying up from the containers to keep the steel in a molten form, and large metal containers moving from large tracks in the ceiling.

Before I get sidetracked into how intimidating its initial impression was, I should add that I was fully equipped with safety equipment. The steel toed shoes were a necessity (thank you Walmart) as were ear plugs, a hard hat, and a mill jacket made of a special material. Then men in the mill that got closer to the incredibly hot steel wore silver suits that I assume reflected the heat. I have a lot of appreciation for the men in the mill, they don’t have the luxury of air conditioning and work through many safety risks everyday. I was in the mill for only about two hours and felt like I was going to pass out due to the immense heat.

The mill tour was given by a retired steel worker; he said when he retired he didn’t know what to do with all the time on his hands, so now he gives tours about once a week to customers, interns, or new employees of Carpenter. On my tour there was an intern from Penn State and a woman of the Carpenter facility in England.

My favorite part of the mill tour was the coil manufacturing. It started as a red hot malleable steel bar, and a man controlled a machine to make the rod thin enough to enter the first machine. There must have been a total of 50+ machines that made the steel thinner and longer before in reached the end, still with a red glow. It was fascinating and I couldn’t begin to wrap my head around the functions of each individual machine.

Overall I believe the mill tour was important to see the manual labor involved in carrying the new products designed by research and development.

Leadership Conference & Clarity 4D

After a couple very long work days in the lab and office, I joined many of the engineers at a leadership conference at The Inn at Reading. This was a leadership course oriented around the kind of project management necessary for successful project leaders in engineering.

The program was mainly focused around software called Clarity 4D. Prior to the conference, all the men participating (and I say men because of the 20 people in the room, I was the ONLY girl) had to take a test of 20 questions to determine their range of leadership types, represented by red, blue, green and yellow. Red and yellow were more extraverted colors while blue and green were introverted. Furthermore, blue and red were more so thinkers while yellow and green were feelers. You may notice that the classification is similar to the Myers Briggs Personality Test, yet these colors allowed Jacqui, the teacher of the course, and my new friend, to tell the men how to develop their leadership skills and identify which aspects they may be weak in. I’ve attached the meanings of the colors below.

After shadowing the class for much of the day, Jacqui asked me if I’d like to take the test to find out my leadership type and of course, after sitting in the program for so long I was eager to see what it would say about me. I am the most blue, which is analytical, observing, and reflecting, then red, which is decisive, assertive, and action-oriented. One color in which I tend to lack is green, so empathetic and concerned. I was shocked by this because if I had taken this quiz even six months ago I think green would have been my highest, but throughout the year as I took on challenges of my own I failed to remember that everyone else is going through their own adversity, and failed to worry about how others were feeling because I was so wrapped up in mine. If anything, this opened my eyes to the fact that I need to check in more often, with my friends, family, or anyone for that matter because everyone is going through something.

My results above, having the most blue made logical sense as I’m a very detail oriented person; I don’t do well in chaotic environments and need to plan ahead to ensure everything runs smoothly. The red I was slightly more surprised by. Similar to green, if I had taken this test even a year ago, I think I would have gotten very, very little red. I used to be a sheep for lack of better words, I tried to follow what was streamline, I never deviated or stood up for what I truly believed in because it was the unpopular opinion. After the turmoil of my senior year, I’ve found that I’m a far more outgoing and direct individual.

In addition to the test today, then men were broken into three groups and instructed to participate in an exercise in which they had to create a structure out of tape and paper to hold a full bottle of wine above a “dead zone”. The purpose of this activity was to have the teams create a project timeline, assign leadership roles, and then abide by that time to create a successful structure by the end of an hour. It was fascinating to me that a group of engineers… with PhD’s could not build a structure able to support this. Their coach (a director) and I observed that the reason for their failure was the lack of time spent planning the structure, and the clash of the people with strong personalities in the group. Ultimately, they still got their wine but the main take away was the importance of project planning.

Metal Characterization

I spent today shadowing the manager of alloy characterization at Carpenter. The alloy characterization group is responsible for analyzing samples prior to production through tests like the tensile test, the creep test, the charpy force test, and electron spectrometer analysis.

Example of a tensile machine.

The first test I mentioned was a tensile test which essentially stretches out the metal and graphs its elasticity as it is stretched to increasing lengths. I’ve included a graph below detailing what an average graph for such test would look like. The test itself will generally only take 5 minutes to complete prior to the sample breaking. As seen from the graph below, the sample begins with a linear increase in stress which represents the sample reaching its elastic limit. Then, the graph approaches a slope of zero and once it reaches said slope, it is at its upper yield stress. The slope will then proceed to decrease until the sample reaches its lower yield stress. Two very important later points on the graph will be the ultimate stress point which is the absolute maximum of the graph, then the breaking point where the sample will separate into two, and the graph will stop at this point.

The graph produced from the tensile machine, measuring stress vs strain.

The next test used in metal characterization is the creep test, which is similar to the tensile test but takes temperature into consideration. This test has two probe readers to measure strain over time, as, only one could cause the results to be inaccurate.

Creep Test Machine

The graph of a creep test is conceptually simpler than that of a tensile test. It is composed of a primary, secondary, and tertiary stage. The primary stage has a very steep slope as the strain increases rapidly initially. In the secondary stage the strain increases at a slower and constant rate before reaching the tertiary stage where the strain increases rapidly before the sample breaks into two.

Graph produced by typical creep reading.

The next test used is a Charpy Impact Test in which measures the amount of force (load) a material can withstand. A large cement type block is brought up to a locked position as it clicks into place, then an additionally safety latch is used given the sheer mass of the block, and occasionally even a third safety measure, a long pole, is used to keep it up while cleaning.

The Charpy Impact Test in action.

Although this machine calculates the load for you, you could manually calculate the load through forces and equations we learned about in AP Physics 1. You would use the following equation to calculate:

Fg initial = Fg final + Force of Impact

Another very important machine for metal characterization is a Scanning Electron Microscope. This machine can magnify up to 50,000x the naked eye, and is used to identify individual particles or parts of individual particles. Each microscope costs upwards of a million dollars to purchase.

The electron microscope is able to use different crystals with different pheons, which give off certain wavelengths that only react to specific elements, therefore conveying the elemental composition of a material, and allowing materials science engineers to identify what compounds the flaws are in the alloy, and how to best remove those (usually oxide or sulfide).

Scanning electron microscope.

Although nuclear energy isn’t exactly related to alloy development, I believe we got into a tangent over nuclear power when he explained to me a project he was a part of, creating an alloy to hold nuclear waste. To do so, he had to add a substance into the alloy that would absorb nucleons. Boron is an element capable of absorbing nucleons, but that wasn’t enough so he had to figure out how to add cadmium without the alloy cracking. We then got into talking about the process of nuclear waste and an associate of Bill Gates who has found a new way to reuse nuclear energy source. No one in the United States wants possible radiation in their backyards, so it will be tested in China instead. Similar fears arose in Arizona when the government declared The Yucca Mountain a place to deposit nuclear waste. Even the transportation to that facility worried many and they refused to have nuclear waste running though their backyards on trains.

This machine tore through Yucca Mountain to create the nuclear waste repository.

As aerospace remains a popular market for Carpenter to sell to, I inquired about how testing is done for commercial planes and in space, as they would have to take into account any atmospheric change and temperature. He explained that they have other testing facilities that take that into account, generally the space programs themselves only have the equipment to run tests like that.

Lastly, an essential part to metal characterization is the use of microscopes. The engineers use software to identify particles within alloys and pores which would entail some gases in the alloy, unwanted compounds. Theywere dealing with new routines, ( new programming) due to the fact that their computer system crashed for an entire three months and everything was lost.

Overall I’d say that metal characterization has been of the most interest to me so far.

Additive Manufacturing

Today was my first day shadowing and I spent it with two engineers in the additive manufacturing lab. My day started early around 7:30 am in the office; I was given a visitors sticker then The Global Director of Research & Development showed me a presentation of Carpenter’s objectives and processes (much of which I knew from previous research).

Once he headed off to a staff meeting, Dr. Aman, the director of additive manufacturing, took me down to shadow one of his engineers that would be working in the lab for much of the day. Initially, I was given a tour of more or less the entire building including the characterization floor, where hardness, malleability, and cracks are looked into, then the chemistry floor where the composition of the alloys are analyzed, and finally into the additive manufacturing lab where all the 3D printers were working.

3D printing metals are conceptually similar to 3D printing plastics but with many additional steps and precautionary measures. The lab focused on two different types of printing, one with a laser and the other with an incredibly thin layer of glue. In both, the alloys start out in a very fine powder, generally no bigger than 60 electrodes. The powder is sifted out so only the pure, fine powder remains in the metal container, which is attached to the printer. Each metal container holds nearly 100 pounds of the fine powder. Once a printing job is initiated, gravity pulls the powder down, allowing a single layer at a time to be placed before a laser hits the powder and solidifies it. When programming the printer, the power of the laser and the speed of the laser can be controlled, but must fit within the range for the given metal. A laser that moves too fast or too powerfully risks causing cracks in the metal.

Carpenter gets different customers who oftentimes require a personalized alloy wether for aerospace or biomedical purposes. Additive manufacturing creates demos for such companies, and 3D prints a rough model to send back to the company. The Reading additive manufacturing site stays busy, but produces small scale or specialized products, while most of the mass production is in California.

One of the 3D metal printers used.

Regardless of the scale of production, additive manufacturing remains a profitable and expensive business. To produce the highest quality alloys, the excess powder cannot be reused, so it is used for demos (models). For example, the lab makes alloy pens, bottle openers and tees for employees (which I’ll be bringing to the intensive fair). If these items were on the market (not just demos) they could go for hundreds of dollars because of the materials and time taken to manufacture.

Here’s a simplified video explaining the 3D metal process visually to help:

Due to confidentiality reasons, I won’t be able to take personal photos of the labs or facilities, but I’ll be sure to keep including as many details as I can.

Travel Day & Leadership Dinner

The majority of today was spent in the car, driving 8 hours from Toledo to our house in Reading, PA. I got home just in time to help with yard work prior to going out to dinner with a woman from Scotland who would be leading the leadership conferences at Carpenter throughout the week. We went to Texas Roadhouse,

The majority of today was spent in the car, driving 8 hours from Toledo to our house in Reading, PA. I got home just in time to help with yard work prior to going out to dinner with a woman from Scotland who would be leading the leadership conferences at Carpenter throughout the week.

We spoke briefly about the difference in education systems and of the various places she has conducted her leadership classes including Dubai, India, The United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia.

She spoke of her experience teaching in Saudi Arabia, where, as a female, she was asked to cover her hair, and respecting all cultures and religions, she did so happily. What she was not prepared for was their expectation that she teach this week long course from behind a hospital curtain. Upon asking why she must do so if they knew she was female, they said that she was the most qualified, yet could not be seen while giving commands to men. Teaching in most of The Middle East, this had never happened to her before, the most she had to do prior is respectfully cover her hair. For this reason, she said she’d never teach in Saudi Arabia again.

After our dinner at Texas Roadhouse, we dropped her back off at her hotel and returned home.

The Manufacturing Process

Today was my last day of research before I travel to Philadelphia for my work experience, so I spent today doing in-depth research on the process of making steel, specifically Carpenter’s manufacturing process.

The process begins with primary melting, which produces specialty alloys in powdered metal form to be further processed. Primary melting begins with an electric arc furnace, more often referred to as “EAF”. Electrodes are lowered into the furnace and are then hit with a high electric current, creating such a high temperature that the elements are melted down into molten and ready to be put into ingot molds.

The molten metal is then sent to the next step, Argon Oxygen Decarbonization or AOD where carbon is removed from the steel through oxidization; a mixture of argon and oxygen is blown through.

One of the last steps is then continuous casting where the molten steel or metal is solidified, yet still malleable (or hyphenate), into a billet, bloom, or slab. The rolling of this malleable metal will then be finished in the mills. This is the most common type of casting.

After speaking with a few employees at Carpenter about this process, I decided that there were a few key terms that would be beneficial to know prior to shadowing on-site, so I’ve included the terms and definitions below:

Cold Working: Any permanent deformation of unheated steel done by mechanical forces.

Lathe: Finishing unit that uses a carbide cutting tool to turn a finished surface on larger rounds.

Pickle: Chemical or electrochemical removal of surface scale and dirt from steel.

Carbide: A compound of carbon with one or more metallic elements.

Mill Edge: Used to describe the rough, uneven edge left on strip as a result of the cold rolling or slitting operations.

Products & Strategic Markets

Carpenter appeals to numerous markets including defense, aerospace, medical, industrial, transportation, and energy markets and does so on a global market. During my shadowing, I’m aiming to uphold the core values of Carpenter which include accountability, collaboration, respect, and integrity.

I will be shadowing my mentor at the the Reading, PA location of Carpenter, which specializes in nickel, stainless, and specialty alloys. The company has made improved alloys globally through higher wear resistance, increased corrosion resistance, increased electrical efficiency, and high cleanliness & durability.

In one project, they formed a partnership with Rolls Royce, and developed a new special alloy FerriumĀ® N63 steel, with an increased corrosion resistance. The graph below describes its corrosion using the Rockwell scale to measure hardness and at increasing depths.

One major focus of the research & development sector is additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing is also known as 3D printing, or the act of manufacturing products by adding layer upon layer of material. With such new technologies, Carpenter just commissioned an Additive Manufacturing Technology Center in 2017. Currently additive manufacturing with metallurgy is being explored but certain factors must be considered to determine if the metal can be made through 3D printing. Factors include the materials susceptibility to micro cracking, its anisotropic properties (directional strengths and weaknesses), and unknown acceptable ranges of process variation (a semiconductor). The following picture shows two solidification cracks, a type of micro-cracking metals experience when heated to a certain temperature.

*The reason certain details cannot be included in my blogpost is due to the confidentiality of the presentations sent to me by my mentor. Many of Carpenter’s projects are done in conjunction with or for customers like NASA and The United States sector of defense.

Calculus in Engineering

I started the first day of intensives with a riveting 4 hours of AP Calculus testing, leaving me very much brain dead and in a mathematical mindset for the remainder of the day. Already in this mindset I decided to make the most of it and put it towards my research day.

High school students often complain to their pre-calculus and calculus about how high-level math will never be used after college, so I decided to find out how accurate this really was by looking into how calculus is everyday in a career in engineering.

While engineers won’t often run into MacLauren series or Riemann Sums, they utilize integrals and derivative in daily practice of calculating optimization and summation. One of Carpenter Technologies many divisions is their aerospace engineering division, which works closely with NASA. In aerospace engineering, the ideal rocket equation is completed through calculus and, furthermore, the analysis of rockets in stages can be done through the implementation of integrals. More or less all physics models will utilize calculus.

Mechanical engineers are also highly recruited at Carpenter Technologies and often use integrals to calculate the surface area of complex shapes and thus their frictional forces. Using related rates and integration, they’re also able to calculate flow rates for any projects in which liquids may be required. One of the most important laws in mechanical engineering, Newton’s Law of Cooling, a differential equation in HAVC design, also requires integration to be solved.

Some less popular fields at Carpenter, civil and structural engineering depend heavily on calculus to calculate the forces acting upon and within heavy structures. When civil engineerings design storm drains or open channel systems, hydrolysis analysis programs utilize calculus to calculate volume through rate of flow over time. Before even starting to build any structures, calculus is necessary to determine the bearing capacity of the ground and the strength of soil.

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