(Intern Grace Snyder-Hansen.)

When a foundry needs to test a material’s performance or an insurance company needs to investigate why a material malfunctioned, they can rely on Engel Metallurgical to investigate for them.

Since its founding in 1983, Engel Metallurgical has established itself as a dependable engineering testing and consulting laboratory for a variety of industries. By hosting internships every year, Les Engel -the company’s founder- aims to expose new engineers to the world of material science and all the applications therein.

“Using SciTech has been a big help,” Engel said. “In the beginning, we had to go out and look for interns ourselves.”

Engel has utilized the SciTech Internship Program to recruit engineering talent for the past four years. This summer they hired Grace Snyder-Hansen, a material science and engineering major at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, adding her to their team in Sauk Rapids. Originally from North Mankato, Snyder-Hansen secured lodgings fifteen minutes away from work, staying with friends of Engel’s who regularly provide free rooms to college students over the summer.

The show must go on
Due to COVID-19, internships with large companies were harder to come by. So Snyder-Hansen turned to the SciTech job board in search of a small business opportunity in her field of study.

“This posting really popped out to me. I was super excited that I got a response for it,” Snyder-Hansen recalled.

“When the virus came up we decided, no, we still want to do this and we’ll figure it out,” Engel added. With daily temperature checks, masks and social distancing, business was able to continue safely. Come May, Snyder-Hansen was moved in and ready for her internship to begin.

Theory versus application
After receiving training on their material testing procedures, Snyder-Hansen was put in charge of designing an experiment for Engel Metallurgical’s technicians. The goal was to test and improve their ability to interpret a material’s reaction to different heat treatments.

“It was all new to me. I had never designed an experiment before,” said Snyder-Hansen. But after researching industry standards and consulting regularly with Les Engel on the experiment’s goals and desired outcomes, her design started to take shape.

The experiment she created involved taking a 12 foot-long bar of steel and applying four different heat treatments to four separate sections, in order to analyze the changes in mechanical properties and microstructures.

Being familiar with a technique learned in school is a far cry from knowing how to use it in application. This experience, she said, allowed her to try out new concepts and put theory to practice. “It’s one thing to read about a thing and see pictures, it’s another to do the entire process yourself and get a greater understanding of it. Now that I’m actually doing this, I know more about how to apply it,” Snyder-Hansen said confidently.

An inspired outcome
“When I came here, I didn’t know what to expect,” Snyder-Hansen said. “I was nervous about how I’d move forward. But I was welcomed so wholeheartedly and that really contributed to my learning. Everyone here is so friendly, I can ask questions and we joke around. It’s been a really positive experience.”

That’s what it all comes down to. “Adding interns to your team isn’t about getting a cheaper workforce,” Engel said. “After so many years you need to decide, ‘how do I want to give back?’ We view this as a learning experience. There’s a lot of exposure here that students don’t get in school and in the end it’s more about giving back to young people and hopefully inspiring their interest in engineering.”

Get involved
Looking to inspire and instruct students while strengthening your small business workforce? Get started today at SciTechMN.org.

Are you a returning SciTech student? Send your current transcript to SciTechMN@mntech.org to reactivate your account.