Tech Materials Students Enter National Video Competition

SOCORRO, N.M. January 31, 2012 – A group of materials engineering students have created and submitted a video on steel to a video contest hosted by the Association for Iron and Steel Technology.

Directed by senior Amanda Kuker, the “Strong as Steel” video features Tech students and professor Dr. David Burleigh demonstrating various activities that use steel, benefits of a career in steel and properties of steel.

“Steel isn’t a big research topic on campus,” Kuker said. “But Dr. Burleigh works on corrosion and has some students working with him.”

Everyone is encouraged to visit and vote for “Strong as Steel.” New Mexico Tech could win $5,000 for the Materials Club. The voting closes February 29, and the video is also on YouTube.

Kuker said materials engineers learn about the basic properties of steel through introductory courses, but she learned much more through research for the video. For instance, steel was first discovered not from natural ore deposits but from meteorites.

The three-minute video opens with a scene of Kuker handling a meteorite – a loaned item from the museum at the Bureau of Geology.

The second segment includes information about blacksmithing and the rise of Damascus steel. Kuker filmed a short scene of blacksmithing and another of two student members of the Society of Creative Anachronism engaged in mock combat.

Another segment features student Jacob Kolar demonstrating the safety gear required for working with steel. Burleigh provided a demonstration of how tempered steel becomes brittle. Student Mitchell Maier contributed several animated sequences.

Other student contributors to the video are Thom Noblitt y Gonzalez, David Gregory, Evan Green, Alex Thayer and Ryan Bouffioux and Jared Kuker. Thomas Powers, a blacksmith from Lemitar, also appears in the video.

“I think our video is really good,” Burleigh said. “We’re just a bunch of amateurs, but when you compare Amanda’s video to the others, ours is the best.”

The contest did not allow videographers to mention their university, but several scenes contain recognizable landmarks from Tech, including the Athletic Field.

“Amanda pulled it all together,” Burleigh said. “She was walking around with the video camera for days. The hard part, though, was assembling the videos into a coherent stream. She learned all the software and that was hours of frustration.”

Kuker – and two classmates – entered an industry-sponsored song-writing competition last fall and won $500 for the Materials Club. She is also the current “Stand-Out Techie” on the Tech website.

“She got really psyched up by winning the song competition,” Burleigh said. “She said, ‘OK, we’re going to do this video.’”

The top prize for the video competition is $5,000, with second place getting $2,500 and third place $1,000.

“It’s hard to do fund-raising,” she said. “We’ve had bigger success getting money for the Materials Club through competitions and this one came up and seemed kind of cool.”

The “Strong as Steel” video is aimed at teenagers who are considering engineering. Kuker said she hopes the video helps future college students choose materials engineering as a major or the steel industry for a career.

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By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech