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Author Topic: TMS Society Meeting "Bladesmithing" competition  (Read 4560 times)
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Michael West
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« on: February 08, 2014, 02:38:56 AM »

Greetings all,
         My name is Michael West, I am a faculty member in the Materials and Metallurgical Engineering Department at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.  For the past several years, the students in our department have forayed into the area of blacksmithing and bladesmithing as an extra-curricular activity that is related to metals and metallurgy.  This has led to some great interactions with our students and folks like Ed Fowler and local blacksmiths Jack Parks and David Osmundsen - and even culminated in the summer of 2012 when we co-hosted the ABANA conference.    I recently told Ed Fowler of an interesting development related to bladesmithing that might interest this group and he encouraged me to post here. 
         Several years ago we were inspired by the PBS Nova "Secrets of the Samurai Sword" special.  In that video they take a look at the traditional metallurgy of making the sword from iron ore to the final product.  We implemented a multi-team design project that involved different aspects of metallurgy (concentration of ore, steelmaking, forgewelding/heat treating).  This design sequence really got the students excited about metallurgy.  Shortly after, we pitched an idea to one of our important professional societies in metallurgical engineering called TMS - The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society.  The idea was to turn this idea into a competition between different universities to create a Samurai sword from raw materials where the students were free to use a modern or ancient methods.  At the time, TMS was interested but the idea never went anywhere.
       Recently, the new president of TMS contacted us (after remembering our Samurai proposal) about the idea of creating a "buzz" at future TMS meetings by having some sort of bladesmithing competition.   Right now we are really in the "idea" phase about what this would be like.  Some ideas we have talked about range everywhere from:
1)  inviting the public and bladesmithing community to enter pieces in the competition
2)  having members from the community conduct demonstrations or judge entries at the TMS conference
3)  having student teams compete for prizes
4)  having different divisions focused on properties, aesthetics, or historical accuracy
        I think TMS really believes this kind of event would create a lot of excitement at their conference by having this connection of metallurgy to art and history.  At this point, I wanted to reach out to you all to see if there was an interest in such an event.   I can just imagine having a tent or booth at the exhibitor area where beautiful pieces and interesting demonstrations or testing would draw people in and make an interesting connection  between metals, art, and history at this scientific conference.
I look forward to hearing any feedback on this idea.
-Michael West
Materials and Metallurgical Engineering Department
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology    

Ed Fowler
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2014, 06:19:19 PM »

Thank you for joining us Michael and welcome to KTO!

This looks like it may be a great opportunity for those of us who seek High Endurance Performance Knives to share what we are learning as we seek our goals. I strongly encourage all who read this to give it some thought, ask questions and must maybe we can participate in the event, both learning and sharing.

Ed Fowler High Performance Knives
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« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2014, 02:36:29 PM »

Hi Michael,

This sounds fabulous!! Ed, Chris and I were at the ABANA conference. It was Outstanding!

I live near Mines, from where my step son will soon graduate with an impeccable Computer Engineering degree. Awesome school, of course. He already has a six figure job waiting. The little puke. LOL!!

I'm very interested in anything that has to do with your Metallurgical Department! I would love to participate, learn, teach or stay out of the way and watch.

Please let us know as things develop. I'm all in!
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