From Student to Employee Through College Industry Conference

Niki Cherry started working at Tyler Union on May 21, 2018, as a quality engineer. She met the head of the HR department at the November 2017 College Industry Conference (CIC). One of the most important things she got out of the CIC, was learning about the different foundries that were looking for employees.

“I chose Tyler Union (McWane), because I really liked the company and what they stand for,” she said. “All of the research I did on the two companies showed that they were great places to work.”

Cherry chose to pursue metalcasting at Tennessee Tech in 2015 after going on a tour of a facility that melted metal down to powder. After seeing that process, she knew she wanted to do something related to that. Cherry went back to campus and told the college of engineering dean that she wanted to change her major to what would help her get there. He sent Cherry to see Dr. Fred Vondra, the FEF Key Professor at Tennessee Tech.

“He is an awesome professor that taught me everything about the foundry,” Cherry said. “I fell in love with the foundry so much I became his teacher assistant and the president of the AFS Tennessee Tech Student Chapter.”

When starting a job right after graduation, having hands-on foundry experience walking through the door is always a plus, and Cherry was able to get that experience in her classes at Tennessee Tech.

“The fact that I know the casting process from start to finish is important,” Cherry said. “I enjoy everything about my job, but the best part is knowing we are the ones to make sure the quality of the product is meeting our customers’ expectations.”

Steve Johnson, assistant general manager, Tyler Union, said he and his company look forward to the FEF’s CIC.

“(We) are excited that we get to meet students with a passion for the foundry industry like Niki Cherry and offer them the opportunity to come join the Tyler Union family, he said. “Because of their knowledge of the foundry industry and their exposure to foundry operations while in school, FEF students walk through the door on day one with an understanding of what we are all about and are ready to face new challenges head on.”

Vondra echoed that.

“As the Key Professor at Tennessee Tech I couldn’t give that opportunity to my students without FEF support,” he said. “Niki Cherry is only the latest of my outstanding students that found an interest in a cast metal career. She has set a new bar for my students in her interest and desire to be a leader in the foundry industry.”   

College Connection is a recurring feature that runs in MCDP highlighting the metalcasting programs at FEF schools across the country.

Click here to see this story as it appears in the September/October 2018 issue of MCDP.