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Kroehling Advanced Materials Foundry Opens
April 28, 2011

Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering is continuing its tradition of hands-on, minds-on education with the newly opened Kroehling Advanced Materials Foundry, a metal casting facility located just off campus on Plantation Road.

John Kroehling

The 4,500-square-foot, $1.7 million facility includes a 125-kilowatt induction furnace capable of melting aluminum, copper and bronze, iron and steel, various mold making equipment including no-bake and ceramic shell, a rapid prototype, and other high-tech equipment that students likely will find themselves using upon entry into the metal casting and related industries.

The facility, hosting classes for undergraduate and graduate students since January, was dedicated April 5th with an open house. On hand for the event were John H. Kroehling, a decorated World War II veteran and 1948 graduate of the College of Engineering, and his wife, Joan.

Kroehling, a member of the advisory board for Virginia Tech Materials and Sciences Engineering Department, provided the initial funds of $500,000 for the foundry project, overseen by the Virginia Tech Foundry Institute for Research and Education (VT-FIRE) program. The group’s mission is to support student interest in the area of foundry science and the metal casting industry.

Among the engineering faculty leading in the foundry’s inception was Bob Hendricks, a professor with the Department of Materials Sciences and Engineering, and Paul Huffman Jr., an adjunct instructor within the same department who also is president of Roanoke, Va.-based Dominion Metallurgical Inc. Huffman is an alumnus of the college.

Hendricks said the equipment – induction furnace, casting area, mold-making equipment and the like — used in the foundry match those of high-tech companies. It’s also Earth friendly, with strong controls on fumes and other pollutants, and a computer-monitored lighting system that will conserve power usage.

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