By Raleigh Basinger
Five students from Youngstown State University’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program built a steam whistle for their senior project that has been placed at the football stadium. They call the steam whistle “The Spirit of Youngstown.” When coming up with the idea for their project, they knew that it needed to last.
Kelsey Kridler, mechanical engineering technology graduate, said the idea for the steam whistle started out from an idea from their professor, Daryl Gross.
“Professor Gross brought up the idea of finding and restoring a whistle from one of the local mills,” Kridler said. “When we found out that that would not be possible, we agreed as a group that we wanted to design and build it ourselves.”
Kridler said her role for the project was “to put together a presentation and report about everything they had learned while the other team members began looking into materials.”
Adrian Heston, mechanical engineering technology graduate, did the welding work on the steam whistle.
“I worked as a machinist and on the job there I did a lot of welding work,” Heston said. “I acquired a pretty good welding skill. Throughout the project I did all of the welding work.”
The steam whistle symbolizes a time when the steel mills of Youngstown used to blow their
steam whistle during shift changes and emergencies. The steam whistle would blow three times a day at 7 a.m., 3 p.m., and 11 p.m.
“Youngstown wasn’t on the map until the steel industry boomed,” Kridler said.
Wim Steelant, dean of STEM, said that the steam whistle is part of what Youngstown is all about.
“It’s a tremendous link to the history of the city and everything that goes with it and the steel industry,” Steelant said. “It was a great presentation and it shows what we can do here.”
The students faced a problem with the cost of this project because in order to recreate an old steam whistle it would have cost a lot of money.
“They used to make them out of bronze and brass,” Heston said. “It would have cost us about six grand to duplicate it.”
When trying to find the right material to make the steam whistle out of, they decided on stainless steel because it would not corrode.
One of the major companies that helped contribute to the making of the steam whistle was Trumbull Manufacturing.
Heston actually worked at Trumbull Manufacturing and his boss donated all the materials.
“I talked to my boss and asked him if he can help get the cost on everything. He said he would be willing to donate up to several hundred dollars in material,” Heston said. “After I gathered the list him and I sat down and he said take whatever you need.”
Dearing Compressor donated a couple water jet cut out parts.
Steelant thought it was a good idea to bring President Jim Tressel and YSU head football coach Bo Pelini on board.
“The kids presented everything, the President was on board and Bo Pelini thought it was a great idea,” Steelant said.
The students had to put together a budget presentation in order to show what it would cost to make the steam whistle.
“At their budget presentation they were short 500 dollars in the end. I just took out my pocket book and I personally sponsored it,” Steelant said. “The President said since you’re doing this I will pay for all the physical installation.”
The presentation went so well that the students got support from different companies that helped them out, and some even provided parts to help them.
“So actually it took a small town to create that whistle,” Steelant said.
Steelant has said that the projects that have been made are very innovative and promoted out reach.
“When you have a university in a community it impacts that community no matter what either in a good way or bad way,” Steelant said. “Especially here in a very good way.”
Steelant has been the dean of STEM now for seven months. What he enjoys most about the program is that the students get the chance to be hands on with their work.
Steelant said that he wants to make the STEM program even bigger and stronger.