Five MSE Students Enter Bladesmithing Competition

This is the finished blade produced by five MSE students.
This is the finished blade produced by five MSE students.


Five materials science and engineering students recently completed their entry for the TMS Bladesmithing Competition that will take place February 26-March 2, 2017 in San Diego, California. Their entry included producing a sword blade 20-120 centimeters long made by hand/trip hammering or forge pressing. They also submitted a ten-page report, five-minute video and a poster.

The students participating in the competition include:

Randa Brice– Materials Engineering, senior

Aishwarya Srinidhi– Materials Engineering, senior

Ashton Mellinger– Materials Engineering, senior

Calvin Sobczak– Materials Engineering, freshman

David Brice– Materials Science and Engineering, Ph.D.

This competition is open to university teams around the world. They will be judged on the following:

  • Blade- aesthetics and presentation, effort and difficulty level, creativity and originality
  • Report- content, scientific merit, characterization, communications and style
  • Poster and video- content, communications and style

They are competing for the grand prize of the TMS Wadsworth-Sherby Bladesmithing award of $2,000.

The students crafted their own forge using a bucket.
The students crafted their own forge using a bucket.

The team of students began working on their blade December 26 and completed all of the work over winter break in the hot work certified lab of Dr. Peter Collins. Dr. Collins, Associate Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, is the main faculty advisor for the team. Between the five students in total, they worked 500 person-hours on their entry. They performed Scanning Electron Microscopy, Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy, and hardness tests on three samples including the original material, forged pre-heat treated materials, and forged post- heat materials.  The team noted that the most tedious part of constructing the blade was the polishing.

Randa Brice said, “We initially wanted to make a larger blade, but we needed a bigger furnace. We also had such short notice. We decided to build our own forge that was bucket sized. Then we ordered our tools and made more of our own to work with so we could complete the blade in the little time we had left.”

There are currently 31 other teams competing in this competition. Most teams had a full year to prepare their entry, but because of the lack of awareness about the competition existing, the group of five had about two weeks to pull something together that would make them proud. This is the first team from Iowa State University to enter the TMS Bladesmithing Competition.

“I knew that if we could push for it, we could get it done,” Brice said. “It came together well with a lot of work. We learned trust, teamwork and dedication.”

When asked about what Brice is looking forward to most in the competition, she responded, “I am most excited to see what we are up against. No matter what the outcome is, we are very satisfied and got what we wanted out of it.”

Through the bladesmithing competition work, there has also been a sparked interest in starting a new student organization: a metals club called Metallurgica. The club is in the process of becoming official, but they are looking forward to having a focused group of like-minded individuals interested in metalwork.

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