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High school interns get hands-on research experience in welding engineering

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Posted: June 9, 2023

The Manufacturing and Materials Joining Innovation Center (Ma2JIC) hosted another team of high school interns this academic year. The internship program was developed to expose high school students to welding engineering and laboratory sciences, allowing them to learn more about education and career pathways in engineering.

The program matches high school students with current welding engineering graduate students (student mentors). After an application and acceptance process, high school students are assigned research projects and work independently under the direction of the mentor to learn the skills needed to conduct research in a traditional engineering research lab.

The experience culminated with each intern presenting their capstone presentation and poster to faculty, staff, students, and invited guests on May 24 at Ohio State's Welding Laboratory. A recap of each project is below.

Alexander D'Agostino

High school: Metro Early College High School

Capstone title: Brazing Alloy Database Assembly Utilizing CALPHAD and Python

Graduate student mentor: Nathan Daubenmier

Alexander D'Agostino Metro Early College High School

Alexander D'Agostino  |  Senior, Metro Early College High School

Alexander set out to find braze alloys with ideal properties for use in medical, aerospace and defense applications. Over 2 million simulated alloys were presented in thermodynamic software before Alexander manually organized usable data containing ideal properties. He wrote script in Python to compile source data housed in OriginLab, a software that can manage large volumes of data points (2.2 million data point for Alex's project). This process allowed him to sort data by liquidus temperature, STR and element composition.

Physical samples were mounted in machines and tested for specific properties using a micro indenter.  

The Python script he wrote can be used for other projects. 

"The experience helped me become a better critical thinker and problem solver. The task of automatically compiling data into OriginLab was difficult because I was previously not familiar with Python syntax, and I had to rely on limited documentation. Finding ways to solve the problem was a demanding process that took a lot of workarounds, but it was extremely rewarding once the program worked."

Alexander also participated in the Ma2JIC high school internship program during summer 2022 and researched stress mapping, destructive testing and fractography. 

He will be attending Ohio State in the fall as an honors pre-aerospace engineering major. He is still considering welding engineering as a major.


Malcolm Pierce

High school: Metro Early College High School

Capstone title: Investigating the Effects of an Additional Interlayer in Steel-Aluminum Welds

Graduate student mentor: Liya Amanuel

Malcolm Pierce Metro Early College High School

Malcolm Pierce  |  Senior, Metro Early College High School

Malcolm studied welding dissimilar materials for applications in the automobile industry. Benefits of welding dissimilar materials are the ability to use lighter weight materials, a lower energy requirement for production, greater material manipulation, and stronger welds.

Malcolm learned that stronger welds are produced by using an interlayer during the joining process and took it a step further by applying multiple interlayers to steel-aluminum joints. Adding an additional interlayer during joining resulted in the intermetallic zone decreasing by 2µm. 

He tesile tested three samples of steel-aluminum welds. The interlayers did not stick to the aluminum when pulled apart but stuck to the steel. More force and energy had to be used to separate the steel-aluminum welded sample with two interlayers than for a single layer or no interlayer. 

"This internship has been a great experience for me, and I have gained a lot from it including learning a research process at a university, attaining a goal using multiple paths, understanding what a graduate student does as part of their educational journey, and learning about a new engineering field."

Malcolm will be attending Ohio State in the fall as a Mechanical Engineering pre-major and plans on participating in engineering research as a freshman.


Kameron Mitchell

High school: Columbus Alternative High School

Capstone title: Fabrication of micro-actuators by laser impact welding of nitinol wires to brass plates

Graduate student mentor: Biswanath Paira

Kameron Mitchell Columbus Alternative High School

Kameron Mitchell  |  Junior, Columbus Alternative High School

Nitinol is a shape memory alloy. Some forms of welding cause nitinol to lose inherent properties, which is detrimental in certain applications like the fabrication of actuators. Kameron studied laser impact welds of brass to nitinol to determine nitinol's strength and shape memory retention. Initial tests found that the nitinol was successfully bonded to the brass, and the inherent properties of the nitinol were still intact.

Using a high-powered microscope, he saw that the two materials mechanically interlocked at the microstructural level by means of a wave formation. Kameron measured the distance and height of the waves to graph the height-distance magnitude from origin. As impact angle and distance increased, magnitude heights increased in mechanically interlocked wave interfaces. This proved that impact welds are formed by angled collisions, not straight on, and impact velocity - until the angle gets too big. The impact velocity and impact angle determine the length of the joining interface and strength of the joints.

He tested the strength of the nitinol-brass bonded samples using lap shear testing to determine its strength and found that they retained 72% of their original strength compared to the base materials. The strength of the bond in concert with its property retention after the welding process means nitinol is a candidate for micro-actuator applications.

"This experience restored my love of learning. It combined freedom and work. I am now more comfortable making mistakes and overcoming challenges. While I want to become a mechanical/electrical engineer, this experience allowed me to recognize the importance of materials science with the realm of engineering."

Kameron is a junior. He is interested in doing a chemical engineering internship next. His plan is to attend MIT and work in the biomedical field.


Edwin Sandoval Nonato

High school: Columbus Alternative High School

Capstone title: Corrosion properties of no backing gas (NBG) austenitic stainless steel GMAW welds

Graduate student mentor: Claire Cary

Edwin Sandoval Nonato, Columbus Alternative High School

Edwin Sandoval Nonato  |  Junior, Columbus Alternative High School

Backing gas is used in open gap pipe welds to prevent oxidation in a weld root. Its challenges are: it is costly, root welds are difficult to reach, and there is a risk of inhalation during inspection. Stainless steel corrodes differently based on the welding process, and shielding gas can alter corrosion behavior. Edwin compared different welds with different backing and shielding gas conditions to observe corrosion behavior under different temperature conditions.

Edwin made three welds under different conditions: 

  1. ARBG control weld with 100% argon gas
  2. NBG weld with 98%Ar-2%CO2 shielding gas
  3. NBG weld with a tri-mix 90%He-7.5%Ar-2.5%CO2 shielding gas

After a series of optical imaging, materials characterization, polishing, etching, and testing, he found that the NBG Ar-CO2 weld showed different corrosion behavior compared to the other two welded stamples. It contained pitting that never stabilized while the other samples did not encounter pitting. The heat tint of NBG Ar-COindicated a lower peak temperature, which affects the structure of the weld metal. No pitting corrosion occured in any sample at 21° C and 32° C. 

"This internship helped me understand what welding engineering is. I loved how this internship was very hands on. I can see a career path in welding engineering or in materials science and engineering. It's helped me broaden my career paths."

Edwin is a junior and will continue his internship at Ohio State's Welding Laboratory. He plans to go into mechanical or welding engineering at Ohio State.


Wyatt Starkie

High school: Columbus Alternative High School

Capstone title: Design and additive manufacturing of custom track spikes

Gradute student mentor: Jacques Berkes

Wyatt Starkie, Columbus Alternative High School

Wyatt Starkie  |  Senior, Columbus Alternative High School

Wyatt began his research on powder bed fusion as a participant in the Ma2JIC high school internship program during summer 2022. He rolled that experience into a research project that was personal to him.

Wyatt is a seasoned track and cross country runner and will be continuing his running career in college. As part of his recent internnship experience, he designed custom spikes for his track racing shoes and printed them using the laser powder bed fusion method. The advantage of additive manufacturing parts is the capability to print complex and intricate shapes. It's an expensive means of production and can be time consuming, but it was a valuable experience for this intern and proved successful on the track. 

The size of spikes are regulated in track racing, but material and shape are not (at least at the high school level). Wyatt capitalized on the lack of customized options available by making improvements to design and material. He began by creating a model of traditional spikes in SolidWorks then printed them on the Concept Laser 3D printer. The additive manufacturing process uses a laser to melt powder layer by layer according to the model.

Minimal post processing was required, and the custom spikes fit into Wyatt's track racing shoes. He raced using his custom-designed and additively manufactured spikes this season. They are still in tact and retained their sharpness throughout the racing season.

Wyatt's design, production and testing open the door to replacement spike customization. He hopes to refine his spike design so they are even lighter and more durable than what is commercially available. To do so, he hopes to spend time performing more mechanical and parameter testing and using different shapes, materials and powders.

"I was able to work with someone who is well-versed in additive manufacturing and LPBF during this internship. Having access to commercial-grade equipment was extremely valueable to my research and internship experience."

Wyatt will be attending Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in the fall and majoring in electrical engineering.